Lasvit translucent glasshouse headquarters awarded Czech Architecture Prize

Headquarters of Lasvit glass company in Nový Bor, photo: archive of Czech Architecture Prize

The headquarters of the Lasvit glass company in Nový Bor, combining historical timber-frame houses with a striking new building covered in translucent tiles, has won this year’s annual Czech Architecture Prize. The international jury praised the Prague-based architecture studio ov-a for combining traditional values with modern design.

The new headquarters of the world-renowned glass design company Lasvit in the north Bohemian town of Nový Bor has become known among the locals as the "glass timber house". It is located on one of the town’s squares, surrounded by traditional 19th century houses. Štěpán Valouch from the architecture studio ov-a is one of the authors of the project:

“There were two charming timber houses from 1792 standing in the place. In the past two centuries, they underwent many reconstructions, the last one in 1985, which left them badly bruised.

“We wanted to give the buildings their original look by stripping off the additional layers of polystyrene and getting rid of the concrete extensions. We also designed a new building which reflects the skills of today’s Czech glassmakers.”

Headquarters of Lasvit glass company in Nový Bor,  photo: archive of Czech Architecture Prize

Štěpán Valouch and his colleague Jiří Opočenský completed the existing houses, which were formerly used as glass workshops, with another two abstract buildings, which are similarly sized and shaped.

The first one, covered in translucent glass tiles, serves as an office café on the ground floor. On the floor above, covered by a concrete domed roof, is a meeting room and an archive of design samples.

The second building is entirely clad in black metal plates, reflecting the traditional architecture of the region, explains Jiří Opočenský:

“It is a reference to the material used here in North Bohemia, around the town of Nový Bor, to the roof shingle plates you can see on many local houses.

Headquarters of Lasvit glass company in Nový Bor,  photo: archive of Czech Architecture Prize

“I think that by reflecting the traditional architecture through new means we can help to incorporate modern buildings into the historical context.”

Štěpán Valouch says that they initially considered even more radical designs, but in the end they chose the more traditional one:

“At one stage, we were even thinking of interconnecting the existing houses with the new ones. But the end result is more conservative – the volume of the new buildings is closer to the originals ones, so that they function as partners and neighbours.”

Apart from the main award, handed out by the Czech Chamber of Architecture on Sunday, the four partners of the event also had prizes to hand out. Among the winners is a fire station in Líbeznice and the observation tower on Velká Deštná.

This week, the Lasvit headquarters also won the prestigious Dezeen Awards, run by architecture and design website Dezeen. The translucent structure was named this year’s best business building.

In the future the company plans to construct two more buildings on the site to fully enclose the courtyard and complete the town block.