Beneath the new skylight, the ambient comfort will elevate visitors' engagement in this exhibition space that stands as a national symbol for two European nations.
The Czech and Slovak Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
Stepping into the Czech and Slovak Pavilion, a 1926 creation of the forward-thinking Otakar Novotný (1880-1959), one immerses in a space marrying functionalist aesthetics with classical architectural language. The grand skylight that doubles as a roof bathes the interior in gentle zenithal light.
The pavilion encountered a setback in 2018 when a towering tree took a graceful fall, shattering a portion of the skylight and prompting the National Galleries of Prague and Slovakia to embark on a comprehensive restoration of the entire structure.
Beyond skylight restoration, our clients, spearheaded by the Czech Atelier MCA architectural project, envisioned the integration of a cooling system, a new lighting arrangement, the necessary adjustments of two small service rooms to align them with the Italian legislation standards. The floor, warn by foundation movements and the weight of equipment over the years, also required our attention.
Simultaneously, our clients stressed the importance of maintaining historical authenticity—capturing not just the forms but also materials and construction techniques.
We underwent substantial revisions to the original design from our Prague colleagues, adapting it with Italian standards, especially structurally, and addressing new requirements that surfaced during the process.
The impracticality of restoring the original skylight became evident, as the existing metal framework fell short of supporting glazing compliant with Italian regulations.
The new, heavier structure, bearing more weight than its predecessor, demanded a detailed analysis of masonry and foundations, with meticulous planning ensuring strategic reinforcement of the original building materials.
It was also very complex to fit the hydronic air conditioning system in such a way that it did not change the external appearance of the building.
The result? A project that blends historic preservation with modern functional requirements, propelling the Pavilion into the next centenary of its illustrious history without losing its essence.