Design: Petr Hájek Architekti

Location: Vrchlabí, Czech Republic

Date: 2014

Text from Petr Hájek Architekti:

The project of the Krkonoše Mts. environment Education Centre (KCEV) presents a new education institution established and administrated by the management of the Krkonoše Mountains National Park (KRNAP).The intention of KRNAP was to significantly extend their educational activities concerning the public.



Seen from a distance the city Vrchlabi doesn´t have its centre of gravity within the main square, but rather in the park surrounding the castle. The park in fact has the potential to become the cultural centre of the city. The beautiful environment and strategically convenient location offered a spatial reserve that enabled the necessary implementation of the institutions. Another significant reason for the location is the site´s history, which was during the Renaissance used for production facilities. Except the castle and the park around, construction activities took place spontaneously and did not introduce any significant achievement into the urban planning. At the beginning of the 18.century the appearance of the city was dominated by the Augustinian monastery, which gardens were adjacent to the castle grounds.



The Site for the new centre was set in the park next to the existing administration building KRNAP. The site opposite the castle, not far from the main axes and the former Augustinian monastery (now Krkonoše Mountains museum) was selected appropriately for the importance of KCEVs educational institutions.



The main idea was, that the building in its principle, could simultaneously be seen as an object or doctrine to study the topography of the Krkonoše Mountains. The object is a hybrid between a building and the landscape. The geometry of the object refers to the geometry of the Krkonoše Mountains landscape - each single angle and slope has its natural counterpart.

The building is situated close to the KRNAP building. The space in between is used as an entrance platform. The ambience of the public space is emphasized by a glazed wall, which conveys the inner life to pedestrians and provides indirect participation in lectures, seminars and tuitions. The building itself is energy efficient with a minimum of heat loss and is heated with a heat pump. The main load-bearing structure and underground walls are smooth, exposed concrete, whereas inner partitions and furniture consist of timber. The design of furniture as well as dimensions of its basic parts are adapted for the size of plywood plates and because of that there are no wasted residues.



KCEV was intended to become a place for education and discussion of environmental problems, and should serve the organization of public lectures, international conferences and research projects. At the same time it will be a centre for educating students, who will thus gain deeper awareness and respect for natural values. For this purpose the building contains a lecture hall, a laboratory, a library, a classroom, an exhibition hall, technical rooms, facilities and storages.



The roof refers to the geometry of the Krkonoše Mountains and is a visual demonstration of the forces, which once formed it. It could be seen as an abstract model to study the basic relations of the unique topography. As a result the roof is not some minimized cut-out , but contains information about the allover formation of the the Krkonoše Mountains. The exterior is designed like a "mountain meadow". whereas the in the interior, the ceiling consists of face concrete, which symbolizes the rocks.

The edges connecting the single parts (correspond to the vectors taken from the mountains topography) are highlighted by a graphic symbol and the description of the specific mountain.

The reinforced concrete structure got realized with the aid of a virtual 3d model, without it, it would have been difficult to convert concept drawings into technical drawings and final construction plans. The model significantly served to control the completed parts and walls of the roof. During the construction the concrete shell got scanned and according to the data another model got compiled for the completion. This model was subsequently compared with the initial 3d model. Therefore it was possible to determine where the construction is imprecise and where it could be compensated in further layers, without having an impact on the final shape. The suppliers documentation was similarly prepared and corrected based on the 3d model.