CHYBIK + KRISTOF (CHK) win the design competition to transform a former textile factory into a new contemporary art gallery and cultural space at the heart of Usti nad Orlici in the Czech Republic. Pearl Gallery presents itself as the city’s new contemporary art hub, expanding its existing cultural infrastructure and forming a new creative community.
Reflecting CHK’s commitment to preserving architectural heritage, refurbishing and upcycling existing urban fabrics, Pearl Gallery will rise from its prosperous textile industry legacy, paving the way for a new cultural identity of the city. Eager to preserve a piece of this eminent past, the city announced a competition to create a fresh vision for the city’s centre.
Following a decline in the prosperous textile industry during the 20th and the 21st century, the former Pearl factory was shut down in 2009, and demolished in 2017. Only the three most prized buildings remained, a production building designed by renowned Czech architect Pavel Janak, an office extension of the block, and a machine building from the 19th century.
In reconceptualizing the restoration of the factory’s remains, CHK divided the existing mass into two buildings, providing the future gallery with multiple functions, and creating new public pathways and spaces between the buildings. Set across 3,200 m2, the newly divided area forms three exhibition spaces, each carefully designed for a particular purpose.
Stretching across the prominent area of the right wing, the main exhibition hall is reimagined as a white box space, set to house the main exhibitions. To the left is a connected space accessible through a small entrance, housing a black box space. Surrounding the main hall from above is a balcony gallery designed as a textile cabinet paying homage to the building’s history.
This mezzanine space can be easily divided and separated from the view of the main hall with curtains, increasing flexibility for future curatorial purposes. Preserving Pearl’s architectural memory and existing material, CHK utilized crucial construction elements through design preservation and restoration.
Certain existing surfaces were stripped back to reveal the original material’s uneven texture resurfacing its former splendor, while additional construction elements, such as tiles and railings are treated and covered with a polished, metallic sheet embracing the revitalized spirit of the place.
The industrial chimney deprived of its primary function is enriched with a reflective pearl motif becoming a new landmark and a beacon of its namesake, visible even from distant parts of the area. As part of its multifaceted cultural expansion, Pearl Gallery acts as a new meeting place for the community – activating the surrounding area and public space to foster social interaction in the gallery and its surrounding neighborhood.
Image © CHYBIK + KRISTOF
The site is enriched by a new public courtyard located at the forefront of the building, united by the cafe – a vital link between the vibrant main street, and a calming urban interior. “Pearl Gallery’s design sees an increased development in the urban fabric, designed to elevate local culture by weaving together and upcycling its architectural past and creating a new future in the form of a vital arts district for the city,” says CHK co-founder Ondrej Chybik.
Underpinned by both a forward-thinking design and respect for the building’s original heritage, Pearl Gallery showcases the vital role of architectural transformation as a focal point in any cultural and social revitalization. Source and images Courtesy of CHYBIK + KRISTOF.
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