Svobodová Blaha: The project brief was to refurbish the interior of one floor of a multi-generational Secession villa and to allocate a separate apartment unit due to the need for a greater degree of privacy for a young couple. The concept of three main passage rooms was retained, which now serve as a living kitchen, the middle room as a study with a library, and two separate dressing rooms. The third room within this enfilade is completed by a bedroom, from which a second bathroom with shower is newly accessible.
The latter originally served as a kitchenette, accessible only from the level of the intermediate staircase. The second zone of the apartment is understood and used rather as a more spacious working bathroom with a washing machine and a spare room for a guest or possibly a child. The design of the dividing wall with the entrance door, which divides the stair hall and changes its proportions, became an important and sensitive issue. The new layer is strong sculpturally and in its expression, resulting in a complex design.
It works with different types of glass and mirrors, and with the colour of the dark stained ceiling beams. Their rhythm and distinctive pattern on the ceiling remain continuous even after the staircase has been partitioned. The dividing wall is deep and provides much needed storage space when entering the apartment. Its geometry is slightly disturbed and turns the mirrored surface into the centre of gravity of the staircase landing.
It becomes an object, a sculpture that creates spatial tension while maintaining the generosity of the lobby with confidence and humility to the existing interior. A similar concept of colour, material solution, and the conception of individual pieces of built-in furniture as authorial and artistic objects is continued in other parts of the apartment. The rooms are enlivened, for example, by a layer of original ceiling paintings, which were discovered during the construction process and could be partially restored.
Elsewhere, the ceilings are complemented by a new layer of paintings that blend with atypical and distinctive furniture, steel lintels, or vaulted ceilings, creating different characters and moods in each room. The cabinet furniture is designed in stained and oiled plywood combined with stained and lacquered MDF, complemented by fragments of original furniture, drawers, etc. The furniture surfaces are combined in many almost imperceptibly different shades and darknesses of brown and blue-green. The bathrooms and kitchen are materially complemented by stone and brass used in the construction of the dividing wall or as cladding for the kitchen worktop, gradually acquiring a natural patina.
Svobodová Blaha is an architectural studio of Anna Svobodová and Ondřej Blaha. The studio is not focused on any specific assignment or typology - it strives to develop and implement projects with an awareness of contemporary themes and references, while creatively responding to specific constraints, client individuality and the specifics of a given context. In terms of the architect's work leading up to implementation, the studio, in addition to the obvious task of fulfilling the brief as fully as possible, also sees as essential the legible authorship of designs and solutions, which in turn necessarily implies taking responsibility for one's work.
Both Anna Svobodová and Ondřej Blaha are graduates of the School of Architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts and the Faculty of Architecture in Prague and architects with work and teaching experience gained also abroad, mainly in Munich, Germany.