Located in the historic town of Znojmo in the Czech Republic, House of Wine by Czech architects CHYBIK + KRISTOF is a case study for how the restoration of historical buildings need not abide to a single set of rules. Built on a rock in the midst of South Moravia’s winemaking region, Znojmo is a compact town of Medieval fortifications, Gothic churches and neo-classical halls whose layered architectural heritage is exemplified by the two buildings the architects were tasked to convert into a wine bar and exhibition space, namely a 19th-century brewery and an adjacent technical annex constructed in the 1970s. By adopting two distinct approaches in renovating each building, boldly tampering with the latter while respectfully restoring the former to its original splendour, they immersed themselves in the town’s heritage and landscape, whilst as founding architect Ondřej Chybík explains, “establishing the House of Wine as a part, a reconciliation and a continuation of its architectural history”.
While the century-old brewery has been faithfully restored - the classical edifice hall now housing a historical exhibition space that invites visitors to explore the rich history of Moravian wine culture - the adjacent technical facility has been radically reconfigured. Preserving only the building’s outer shell, the interior has been completely gutted and whitewashed to create a single, double-height space that contains a sculptural arrangement of interconnected platforms. Generously illuminated by a series of new windows that puncture the once blind facades, the new wine bar boldly redefines both the hall’s initial architecture and function.
Clad in dark timber, the rounded volumes of the stacked platforms reference the form and texture of wine barrels while evoking the atmosphere of the region’s traditional wine cellars by providing a series of intimate cave-like balconies where guests can sit and sip their glass of wine. Aligned to each platform, strategically placed windows of different shapes and sizes open up the space to surrounding views of the town and the river valley beyond, firmly anchoring the building to the historic town, and forging a connection between the bar’s wines and the land they come from.
The project’s dual approach to restoration can also be seen in the treatment of the building’s exterior. While the pastel hue of the historic brewery has been meticulously refreshed, the chalky beige paintwork of the Communist-built technical hall draws attention to its architectural dissonance, yet at the same, by echoing the colours of the neighbouring buildings, the renovated complex affirms a sense of architectural and historical belonging.