Prague’s Invalidovna set for major reconstruction

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One of Prague’s largest Baroque monuments, the Invalidovna in the city’s district of Karlín, is set to undergo major renovations. The Czech National Heritage Institute, which administers the building, has just unveiled plans that include striking new extensions made of glass and steel.

The massive Baroque complex Invalidovna is one of the most important works by the renowned Prague-born architect Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer, best known for St. Nicholas Church in Prague’s Malá Strana quarter. The former home for war veterans was built in the 1830s and was originally intended to be nearly 10 times larger.

Visualisation: Czech National Heritage Institute

Several years ago, the building in the Karlín district became a protected national cultural monument and then entrusted to the National Heritage Institute.

The current renovation project is partly based on the original plans, explains the head of the National Heritage Institute, Naděžda Goryczková:

“We are continuing in the direction of the former grand plan for Invalidovna, which was never carried out. So we want to expand toward the south by extending the east and the west wing of the building.”

Visualisation: Czech National Heritage Institute

The winning plan to renovate the beautiful Baroque complex was designed by the respected architect Petr Hájek. The winner of the 2018 Architect of the Year Award, he is known for his renovation of the water tower at Prague’s Letná or the extension of Prague’s DOX art center.

Hájek’s design features two brand new wings covered entirely in profiled-glass plates.

Visualisation: Czech National Heritage Institute

“We wanted to add a new, modern layer to the building, which has a great historical value.  The glass serves two purposes. First of all, it helps us to enhance the contrast to the former building, which has a painted façade.

“The glass surface should also contribute to a special atmosphere in the evenings, when people are waiting outside the building for concerts or other public events.”

The glass plates will be made in cooperation with top Czech company Lasvit and there will be a 60-centimetre space between the wall and the glass panels to enable their maintenance. Petr Hájek again:

Invalidovna, photo: Štěpánka Budková

“The glass is partly translucent and each of the plates is an original. They are made using special forms, and then placed in a glass furnace, which gives them a characteristic shape.

“For us it is important to have a façade which is not sleek but has a special structure. It is like a dressing the building into a suit or a gown for a special occasion.”

The renovation project should be completed in 2027 at the earliest and its cost is currently estimated at CZK 1.9 billion. It is the biggest investment project of the National Heritage Institute and the biggest historical renovation funded from state coffers.

In future years the building should house the National Heritage Institute and the Prague Philharmonic Choir. It should also be open to the public, offering a space for exhibitions, concerts, lectures and other events.

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