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New headquarters of the Faculty of Humanities

Kuba & Pilař architekti converted a 1980s cafeteria building into the new headquarters of the Faculty of Humanities at Charles University in Prague. While retaining the exterior form and proportions of the original building, their main intervention was the creation of a generous central hall that will serve as the social hub of the faculty, lit from above. The 1980s building, constructed using a challenging lift-slab construction method with its deep square central layout, had an unquestionable architectural quality at the time of its construction. The cafeteria itself was never fully utilized, so a radical change was needed to accommodate the new needs of the Faculty of Arts.

The conversion project preserves the exterior form, height and proportions of the original cafeteria building. The main intervention is the creation of a generous central hall, lit from above, with daylight entering between the skylight trusses. The hall is the heart and social center of the faculty, spatially connecting all three floors of the building. The lobby, located at the level of a raised plateau, allows for a simple connection of all floors via two differently shaped one-ramp staircases. Cantilevered galleries around the perimeter of the hall provide access to seminar rooms, faculty offices, and two elevators with fire escapes. The lower level of the hall houses large common rooms, the auditorium, the faculty library, and the deanery. The predominant materials in the interior are exposed concrete combined with thin wire mesh on the ceiling, black floor screed, and white wood elements and furniture.

The space is dominated by orange seating furniture. The exterior structural glazing is designed primarily as an effective acoustic protection against the noise of a six-lane bypass in the immediate vicinity of the building. The double-skin facade allows for natural ventilation and regulated shading of the interior space. Rounded glass corners are a link to the original architecture.The cafeteria conversion is part of a large complex that includes two high-rise dormitory buildings that share a common base. Completion of the exterior areas, access roads and landscaping will be the subject of the next phase of construction that will see the rise of a state-of-the-art campus in keeping with student needs.

Project: New Headquarters of the Faculty of Humanities, Charles University
Architect: Kuba & Pilař architekti
Year: 2020