Expansion and renovation of the New Preposition in Prague. The historic building once again impresses

The New Preposition is a historic building from 1877, built in neo-Gothic style, located next to St Vitus Cathedral in the heart of Prague Castle. The concept for the restoration of the monument focused on reopening the inner courtyard to visitors. Two modern annexes have been built on either side of the restored square, where the coach house and stables were once located. Outdoor seating in the café allows visitors to relax in a picturesque corner and enjoy views of the other castle buildings. The viewing terrace is complemented by a fountain made of granite and bronze.

The building was originally intended as a preceptor’s residence before being confiscated in the early 1950s and has remained largely abandoned ever since. During the communist period, the courtyard and nearby outbuildings were completely destroyed and the main building was used as a barracks for workers. In 2016, the New Presbytery was returned to the Church under the Restitution Act.

Nowa Prepozytura

Two new annexes have been built on the site of the former outbuildings. One will serve as a café and the other as a service facility. In addition, another commercial unit is located inside the renovated building. The annexes are characterised by an austere but soft design, with glazed facades. The western annex is more open and vertical, designed for catering. The eastern is more compact and enclosed, suitable for universal use, from retail to offices. Despite similarities in design, each retains its own unique identity. The northern edge of the courtyard has been enhanced with an observation deck and fountain. The space is also designed for outdoor events such as theatre performances and corporate meetings.

The main aim of the works was to protect the historic building and to renovate its interior and façade. The façade has been meticulously restored to reflect its late 19th century appearance. The interiors have been partially restored to their historic state while modernised, creating a harmonious fusion of contemporary and original elements. This fusion of styles is particularly evident in the main staircase, which is complemented by a delicate circular chandelier that harmonises with the stark geometry of the painted wooden ceiling.

The renovation concept is characterised by the use of durable and timeless materials and a symbiosis of original and contemporary colour schemes. Historic doors and windows have been carefully restored, floors have been tiled in appropriate formats and patterns, and parquet floors have been renewed or restored. New structures, such as glass partitions, have been designed so as not to dominate the historic interiors. On the historical traces of the original outbuildings (stables and coach house) in the courtyard, new outbuildings were created with commercial purposes aimed at tourists visiting Prague Castle.

Nowa Prepozytura

The shape and appearance of the annexes were designed to harmonise with the historical surroundings of Prague Castle, while at the same time standing out subtly. This balance has been achieved by using timeless forms and materials typical of the castle’s surroundings, with modern details and compositions. One notable detail is the narrow skylight that connects the roof to the north facade of the annexes, creating a play of light and shadow in the interiors. Another notable element is the design of the corner of the western extension, where the glass extends almost to its very edge, emphasising the gentle support of the massive roof. Key materials used in the new buildings include sandstone cladding from the Vyhnánov quarry, patinated copper details, discreet tile and wood floors and a glass façade with subtle steel frames.

The idea of a viewing terrace suspended over the edge of the castle walls originally came from architect Josef Mocker, but was never realised. The courtyard renovation project develops this concept and presents a contemporary solution. The fountain consists of a stone obelisk and a pool with bronze edging. Water flows from the cross, runs down the names of the three saints and soaks into the ground. The poem carved into the stone on the viewing terrace was written by one of the historic prelates who once ministered here.

The new Prepository has now returned to its original function as the administrative seat of ecclesiastical institutions, in particular the Metropolitan Chapter of St Vitus, and has added new functions.

Office: Studio acht
Lead architect: Václav Hlaváček
Co-authors: Mikuláš Wittlich, Pavel Jakoubek
Design team: Barbora Janů, Anna Halaburtová, Lukáš Dejdar
Client: St. Vitus Metropolitan Chapter in Prague
Project location: Hradčany 34, Prague, Czech Republic
Year of completion: 2023
Photographer: Tomáš Slavík
General contractor: ARCHATT

Read also: Architecture | Metamorphosis | Renovation | Monument | Prague

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