With real estate prices in the Czech Republic among the highest in Europe, the local market lacks affordable housing and therefore calls for alternative development solutions that would also be able to strengthen the quality of public spaces.
Name: DADA Distrikt
Architecture studio: KOGAA
Design team: Alexandra Georgescu, Tomas Kozelsky, Viktor Odstrcilik, Lenka
Kostíková, Oleksandr Voropai, František Košńar, Martina
Pappová, Kateřina Baťková
Photo credits: Kubicek studio, Quali Bau
Location: Brno, Czech Republic
Client: DADA Distrikt
Size: 1600 m2
Interior designer: Radka Vašut
Year of completion: 2020
Main contractor: Šigut – stavby s.r.o.
Facade finish: Quali Bau
DADA Distrikt provides a locally unique proposition to the problem: the previous storage facility has been adapted into a mixed-use and residential complex with a variety of shared and community spaces. It’s relatively economic reconstruction was made possible through shared funding and direct sales, therefore avoiding additional investment returns to developers and fees to real estate agencies.
The building is located adjacent to the brownfields of the historical industrial Zbrojovka area in Brno, facing the river Svitava which is now activated by just a bike lane, and bears the potential of becoming a mediating element to change the whole district. With this intention we designed a corner entrance to the building, transforming the intended residential function into a high-quality urban and urban-communicating multifunctional facility. To further connect the function to the street we planned at the ground level a generous open space plan for hosting commercial and office spaces.
The assignment itself, as well as the choice of the object, underlines its industrial aesthetics as an added value. Player’s in today’s real estate market are looking for elements that have an overlap. If this overlap also has a history and a certain degree of complexity, it is all the more attractive. This is, for example, the reason why there has never been any speculation regarding the removal of the elevator car in the courtyard of the building. It is a sculpture of the frozen history of the place and thus becomes an element of luxury of the project.
Each adaptive-reuse project needs to be treated based on the potential and complexity of the building itself, and in the case of DADA Distrikt the inspiration laid in the historical combination of its industrial and functional content with a decorative accent on the facade. Another original element we maintained and highlighted is the rounded corner of the staircase, which gives the whole material a unique look.
Designed as a shell-and-core, the main load-bearing structure has been cleaned up to its most elementary and therefore strongest form. This process revealed the possibilities on how to shape the layout solution. When adapting an existing building, it is important to be let guided by the building and adapt it to its essence. The opposite procedure leads to a disproportionate price of the reconstruction, or the reduced operability of the project.
In response to the issue with floods in the Country and the building’s sensible closeness to the riverside, we designed a green roof as a tool for water management. The roof becomes a filter for the rainwater, slowing down the flow and therefore making the building a responsible player at the urban level of the area. The greywater is also used throughout the building for its internal functions such as washrooms and irrigation.
Founded in 2015 by Tomas Kozelsky, Alexandra Georgescu, and Viktor Odstrčilík in Brno, Czech Republic, the studio has now an office in Prague and gained both local and international recognition for their unique approach. KOGAA is Design Vanguard winner 2021, and 2020 the studio was selected by Dezeen Awards among the top twenty architecture practices in the world. In 2019 the founding partners lectured at RIBA, the Royal Institute of British Architects on the topic of alternative approach to development. The same year the studio won the main prize for workspace design at the BIG SEE awards for their Distillery project, and in 2018 they were chosen as the top ten emerging architecture studios by Archipreneur magazine.
‘At KOGAA we create substance for the built environment, committing to projects with a positive impact on users, communities, and the local context. Through our projects, we tackle the issue of inactive structures and their adaptation into substitute functions. Our Distillery, KUMST, and DADA Distrikt projects are representative examples of how vacant properties can become vibrant locations, playing an active role in the urban and economic transformation of the surrounding neighborhood and life of the city.
We are dedicated to make a change in the real estate market and create an alternative to development. Through our experience, we have learned to respect the built environment and the work and energy others before have put into it. Our role as architects is to enhance and adapt the inherited qualities of a site, rather than destroying and building from scratch. This we believe is the right way for the progress of humankind, in which the economical aspect of a building coexists with the social, historical, and cultural planning for the future.
Based on a strong belief that the more the architect is involved in the whole process, the more efficient, coherent, and sustainable the building is, we take pride in leading projects throughout the whole process from the strategy and business plan, though concept and feasibility studies, to technical documentation and getting the permissions, all the way to construction administration, and the strategy generating attraction.’
‘Creating diversified platforms to educate clients, team, and contractors is a fundamental element of KOGAA. Our internal breakfasts embrace informal exchanges, while pin-ups support exchanges of creative and techincal knowledge, and where all voices are heard. Contractors are brought-in for team-building occasions and self-organized sports or cultural events and on a broader scale. Our self-started Social Reactor project provides a platform for our community to support collaborations and exchange of ideas, such as the newly started REACT event. Partnerships with research institutes, governmental bodies, and universities are handled by our parallel Next Institute, and our annual Brno Design Days connects local creatives, universities, companies and international players to enrich the City for the four days of the festival, and beyond.
We strongly believe in the hands-on approach, where the team is in direct contact with the construction and learns the tooling. Respecting and understanding the physical work results in smarter, more efficient and innovative design solutions, while also teaching the importance of planning, and on-site responsibilities.
REUSE AS A METHOD:
We reuse in everything we do, it is a way of thinking, and behaving, holistically. Our office interior, for instance, was designed based on materials and structures we preserved and stored in time from our events and projects. Solving where to store material, and what to do with it in the designing phase is crucial for efficient sustainability.
Building good-quality spaces cannot be done from a bad-quality office. Our office is designed generously with large working spaces, and designated areas that support the variety of working typologies we run in the company. The office is a physical representation of the way we think, what we stand for and how we work.’