From the design to the final inspection in 104 weeks
The reconstructed industrial compound, originally a villa built in 1912 with adjacent manufacturing and stock spaces in the site of the Jihlavancompany, is situated near Jihlava’s city centre in Znojemská street. The client approached us following a positive experience from our previous collaboration on his house. We were asked to come up with a complex project documentation ranging from the initial sketch to the workshop documentation for the manufacturing of interior elements. It was clear right from the beginning of the project that time will be tight. We started working on the project in the autumn of 2011, and as it was a candidate for a European grant, the whole preparation process took a rapid course. The construction took twelve months from the issuing of the building permit. This included interior furnishings with furniture designed by us. The final inspection took place two years after the first meeting about the design. This was not only a great success, but also an accomplishment of our initial goal.
A complex resolution
In Palmovka we got the chance to complete the whole project. All the project- and coordination-related work was left to us, which was quite challenging. The opportunity to work even on the smallest details brings great complexity to the job. This brings not only a huge responsibility for the architect, but is also a big challenge for the whole team.
Uncovering the old
The compound was in a very bade state. The old villa and the manufacturing site were both affected by the years in which they used to serve as a manufacture for airplane components. The main principle of the reconstruction thus became finding the old hidden qualities of the site and adding contemporary design so as to create a site for administrative buildings and an educational centre. By removing old layers of plasterboard, plastering and carpets we found residues of the original materials, which we then tried to bring back to life in our project. Each control day was full of ‘on-line’ decisions about which fragments to keep and which to replace with new design.
We don’t throw away old material
We found many remnants of the old history of the venue on the site. Everything that we could re-use we did. We covered the concrete ceiling and slopes of the old manufacturing hall with sand, we left the industrial lamps in the interior of the building and we used the original wooden floors to make new furniture. The interior is not a museum of old materials, we used all the original artefacts and livened them up with their original function or a new one.
Designing a table is a science
There’s over twenty newly-designed interior elements in the whole compound. We designed several tables, bookshelves, and chandeliers. Finalizing the complete idea of the design is the best reference for an architect. The amount of work you have to put in, however, is very bug and it is important to realize the extent of it in the beginning and also reflect upon it when asking for your payment. Financial modesty of the architect is not suitable here, as a badly estimated financial reward can lead to a collapse of the whole team or can have negative effects on the quality of the design. Clients asking for these services should realize that the added value of a complex design is positively reflected in the homogeneity of the design itself and the value of the whole site.
As part of the interior there is an art piece by Richard Loskot, which simulates atmospheric effects. It was made thanks to a competition organized by us, in which about twenty artists, graphic designers and architects took part. The main positive outcome of the competition was not just the piece of art itself. Thanks to the competition we found several other talented people that we would like to work with once we have the opportunity.
Grants: friend or foe?
We established with the client right at the start that we would try and obtain a grant from the EU funds. An educational centre for the qualification of technicians of machines working with plastic seemed to be an ideal candidate. Unfortunately, this fund had already gone when we were applying, and so we had to apply for the program of Housing/workshop for renovating, testing and upgrading shaping machines in the end. That actually turned out be a more suitable option, as it precisely fulfils the functional core of the project, thanks to its focus on brownfields. In our opinion EU grants are an interesting motive for the initiative for technological development, the creation of new working positions and strengthening the local economy, but their success taken from a global perspective is debateable. I’m referring to a large number of projects which are tailor made for the grant programs just for enriching the people participating in them. It is essential to say that in this case we are dealing with purposefully-spent money. The harmonogram of the grant title came with an uncomfortable level of pressure. Fortunately there were no big mistakes made during the realization of the project, but more of an ease concerning time would probably improve the enjoyableness of our work on the project. One of the main reasons of the success of the whole project was also the fact that our client is an excellent project manager and he was thus able to overcome all the problems that came with the building process. Based on our experience we could safely say that applying for grants and working on the project at the same time presents much greater demands on the individual members of the tem. It is necessary to increase the workload and to be prepared for many non-standard procedures connected to the process of applying for EU grants.
Description of the architectural layout
The entrance lobby and the connected outdoor space
The pedestrian entrance into the compound is through a gate in Znojemskástreet. Post boxes from rusty metal plates are situated on the entrance gate. This point is also lit by lamps made of loudspeakers. There is an automatic gate which ensures entrance for cars, and is followed by sheltered parking slots. The garages were built from the original steel hall, which was reduced and adjusted. The entrance into the building into the building is after crossing a small bridge, which crosses over the original approach platform to the passageway. The passageway is used as another commercial venue, and the original approach platform was thus remade into a small garden with wild grass. The entrance lobby with the reception works as a junction of the individual operations, as well as a meeting point. The entrance area is separated from the educating wall by a glass wall, and so the visitor can take a peek at the process of work with plastic. The lobby as a relaxation area is also livened up by the art installation by Richard Loskot.
The ground floor
Apart from the lobby, there are also toilets, a conference room and offices on the ground floor. The bridging in the glassed in passage connected previously divided areas.
The first floor
Stairs from the lobby come up to the first floor. An open office space was created by knocking down the original wooden partitions. This is followed by a newly built space for the kitchen, an outdoor sheltered terrace and toilets. In the future we are thinking of using this space for business meetings.
By passing through the offices we get to a second staircase which leads into the attic.
Client: MP Plastics, s.r.o.
Architect: Mjölk architekti
Designer: Mjölk architekti
General Contractor: Sebapol , s.r.o.
Supplier of interior elements : Alois Šuhaj joinery
Construction time : 12 months
Final inspection : July 2013
Floor area: 1300 m2
Budget: 600.000 E
Interview Mjölk architekti vs. client(Marek)
Mjölk: Hi Marek, can you tell me what you do?
Marek: I’m a completely normal person who just happened to be in the right place at the right time. When I was studying I started working with GN Thermoforming, a Canadian company that produces shaping machines for plastic food cartons. We deal with consultancy and engineering throughout the whole of Europe and in the Middle East.
Mjölk: How did you join the project?
Marek: It was basically a coincidenceJOriginally I didn’t want such a big venue. We had been looking for a site for new offices in Jihlava’s city centre for years. For a long time we couldn’t find the sleeping beauty and bring her back to life. Only thanks to a random coincidence did we finally find this house. I was slightly afraid. Palmovka did have a unique “genius loci” right from the start, but at the same time it was one big mess. The size of the compound made my hands and my wallet ache in advance. But then we got an idea. We decided to make our long-term dream come true and start modernizing shaping machines and also start experimenting with new materials and technologies. The old villa with the tech. shop floor seemed to be ideal for that purpose.
Mjölk: How did the project come along, starting with the initial idea?
Marek: But I told you to come look! Do you not remember?:) We spent a lot of time in the archives to find out all that we could about Palmovka. We were interested in the history, the period drawings and even in why Palmovka is called Palmovka. We found many base documents, as well as building documentation from 1912 including the original statistical calculations.
Mjölk: What obstacles did you encounter during the whole process?
Marek: Many. The biggest obstacle were the architects who worked too slowly (or maybe they were working at a standard speed, but the standard speed is not our speed J ). At the end of the day it is not speed that counts, but the quality, and we are really happy with that. (note by architects: Mara is extremely hyperactive)
Mjölk: Why did you decide to work with architects?
Marek: That’s an interesting question. My problem is that I don’t understand people who don’t work with architects. Each person should stick to what they know. I come from a family of architects and I love architecture. I have huge respect for the field, and so I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to work with professionals who have their own style and who I’ll get along with.
Mjölk: Why did you choose us?
Marek: It was fun. I had already cooperated with one of you on my house. It was a perfect and quite successful cooperation. We are very good friends with Lukas. It was interesting. But I was a bit scared to choose an architect I’ve got a personal relationship with for the Palmovka reconstruction. I wanted the best one. When I asked you whether you’re interested, on the one hand you were terrified but on the other one I was unable to get some reasonable idea of how you would deal with it. I asked another renowned and fairly experienced architect to draw me a study. After you found out, you worked on a draft two days and two nights, and finally I was persuaded. You probably needed some heads up. All of a sudden, there was a draft and I knew I wanted this one.
Mjölk: Are you satisfied with the result of our work?
Marek: Me? Yes. Aren’t you? ;-) I’m very glad that it ended up this way. Every day when I go to work I take a breath and still cannot believe it is so beautifulJ. Recently I went to see my doctor. She measured my heart-rate to be 59 and asked me whether I’m a sportsman since I have such a slow heart-rate. I think you raised it a bitJ. From time to time you were impossible. Neither me nor you had realized how complex the project would be. We went through every single detail, every little piece of technicality that makes architecture the art that it is. And that is the reason why we achieved this outcome. I’ve sent some pictures of Palmovka to one of my partners in Germany recently. He replied: Nice, creative, refreshing, very good! I was really delighted. We achieved what we all wanted. To go our own way, to enjoy what was raising in front of our eyes and to build up a fine architecture.
Mjölk: Do you think cooperation with architects adds value to the project?
Marek: I never thought about it like this, but it probably does. The question is what you see as an added value. We definitely built an architecturally valuable and beautiful building. Did we add financial value as well? Of that I’m not sure. The financial value is based on the willingness of others to pay the sum of money that you’re asking for. But as you surely know, most reconstructed and even newly built compounds sadly don’t have much architecture in them, which means that most investors aren’t interested in architecture and don’t see design as an added value. What I wanted was for all of us to be happy with how the project came out and I didn’t think about adding value to it. Call me in fifty years when we’ll be selling it and I’ll tell you how much we got….hahahaha
Mjölk: How does the reconstructed compound work when it’s working?
Marek: There haven’t been any problems so far, everything goes according to the plan.
Mjölk: Part of the interior design is also a piece of art by RíšaLoskot. Could you describe how it works?
Marek: Ríša Loskot is a great guy. It’s amazing to work with people who are enthusiastic. Ríša made the Rainbowmachine for us. It’s a strange machine which randomly generates a rainbow and stars in the lobby. Me, my brother and a colleague who’s a technician went to Brazil after Christmas. We visited the beautiful museum of Oscar Niemayer in Curitubra. My colleague kept telling me that we should send the machine there. He said it would go great there and that we should buy a lizard instead of the art piece. I must say that Ríša’s installation is much better than a forklift.
Mjölk: What’s your favourite place at Palmovka?
Marek: The whole of Palmovka is my favourite place!
Mjölk: Why did you decide to use the EU grants to fund the project?
Marek: Because thanks to the grant I can start the project more quickly. We would manage even without the EU fund, but we would need much more time.
Mjölk: What advice would you give to those who are asking for grants?
Marek: I would tell them to be extremely patient with the whole bureaucratic apparatus. It’s not easy, but it does pay off.
Mjölk: What’s your idea of an ideal candidate?
Marek: One with a boy full of wine bottles? An ideal one doesn’t exist..:)
Mjölk: Is it true that you would want to get married at Palmovka?
Marek: I think I won’t have any other choice. The family of my fiancé is so big that we wouldn’t fit into a normal space ;-)
Mjölk: Thank you for you answers!
Marek: No problem! And good luck to you guys.