Znojmo, Czech Republic – Retrofit is the buzzword of the moment, and as more and more existing building stock becomes available for reuse, architects and designers are responding to the increasing challenge of adapting heritage buildings. Two seemingly incompatible buildings – a traditional 19th-century brewery and adjacent technical warehouse from 1970s – have been integrated by architecture and urban design practice Chybik + Kristof into a wine bar with tasting rooms. House of Wine sits in the heart of the Moravian region; and while the Czech Republic is well known for its brewing heritage, Moravia is better known as the country’s wine region.
The challenge for the architects: identifying the individual characteristics of each building and bringing the two together as a coherent whole. On the one hand, the former brewery underwent extensive restoration in order to preserve the historic fabric and extend the building’s life as an exhibition space where visitors can learn about the history of the region’s wine culture. On the other hand, a more liberal and experimental approach was taken for the newer technical hall, which was gutted – except for the outer shell – and the walls whitewashed.
The internal space is divided into a series of cocooned balconies, constructed as rounded steel and timber volumes, floating at different heights and interconnected by staircases. This allows guests to sample the wines in an intimately private setting. The architect refers to House of Wine as an 'echo of the original buildings and the town’s history of transformation' with the dark and mysterious ambience of the material palette reminiscent of the region’s traditional wine cellars which were made up of interconnected cave-like rooms.
In another call-back to the historic Movarian region, windows are inserted seemingly sporadically around the building perimeter, opening the interior to views out over local points of interest, such as the neighbouring Gothic church and 9th-century chapel. By situating the buildings within the context of local history and the surrounding environment, Chybik + Kristof has tackled the complication of adapting two conflicting structures into a single centre for celebrating the region’s wine.