Zeitgeist AM at the Conservatory Conference in Warsaw

16-17 October 2020

History creates value. How to fit restored historical buildings into a dynamic urban landscape.

We coexist with history. It makes up our national identity, builds communities, strengthens bonds, creates a sense of stability. For an urban tissue, a history so understood is the most valuable asset. We're convinced that it should be the foundation for designing modern urban spaces so that they harmonize with their cultural heritage.

The value contributed by history has become an inspiration and a starting point for the operations of Zeitgeist Asset Management company, which is involved in the restoration of historic real estate in the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary. This is a long-term approach, which assumes providing revitalized interiors in the form of a short- or long-term lease. This process involves active dialogue with the city and local communities. This approach translates into the quality of renovation work and materials used, where every detail must not only be compatible with the nature of the building but also must meet the test of time.

Myslíkova, Palác Dunaj, Karoliny Svetle, and others.

At the presentation, examples of buildings located in the Czech Prague, where Zeitgeist has already acquired and developed 25 properties since 2014, with the total area of 22,151 sq m, were shown. They include examples of the Czech architecture such as Myslíkova, Palác Dunaj and the historic tenement house at Karoliny Svetle Street. The history of the tenement house at Myslíkova begins in the second half of the 14th century. This is when two buildings were erected to facilitate a malt shop (brewery) and a bar called U Goliatů "," U Drabku ". The building gradually deteriorated until in 1868, when, according to the plans of the outstanding creator of the Czech neo-Renaissance architecture, Josef Schulz, both three-story buildings were reconstructed, along with a residential building in the courtyard. The neo-Renaissance facade was changed in 1889 by F. Tichna. In 1921, the building was taken over by the Central Saving Bank for Legions. During the construction works, the façade was rebuilt in the of modern expressionism style. Another historic property, the constructivist Palác Dunaj from 1930, is considered one of the best designs of the German architect Adolf Foehr. It is distinguished by several unique architectural solutions, such as the still-operable bead elevator (available to visitors) and the viewing terrace overlooking the Prague Castle and National Theatre. Whereas the old town tenement house at Karolina Svetle Street, located near the Vltava River and Charles Bridge, dates back to the 15th century. Now, but also in the future, it provides accommodation for Prague visiting guests.

The goal of Zeitgeist revitalization works is to provide restored spaces on attractive terms for future residents. This applies to properties with historic elements, as well as buildings located in the city centre. Examples of this are the apartments offered today in renovated tenements, such as Na Zderaze, Na Struze, and Křižíkova - built in 1909-1912. All of them are under conservation care.

From detail to urban function

Dialogue with history in architecture involves responsibility for documenting and proper examining the historic fabric of buildings. In the context of the properties listed above, it is worth noting the cooperation of Zeitgeist with Professor Petr Urlic from the Faculty of Architecture History of the Czech Technical University in Prague (CTU), who now writes a book on Palác Dunaj. Another example is the commitment to examine the tenement house at Karolina Svetle Street of Dr. Josef Holeček, a respected expert in the monument protection in the Czech Republic. The Zeitgeist projects in the Czech Republic are coordinated by Tomáš Eckschlager, an academic lecturer composition in architecture at the CTU's Faculty of Historical Monuments Protection, who currently also conducts a commissioned research of ​​tenement houses built in Czech Prague in 1885-1915.

The studies of monuments under the Zeitgeist care allowed to identify numerous architectural elements worth preserving, the reconstruction of which was given a lot of attention. An example is the neo-Baroque building Na Zderaze, with Art Nouveau ornaments on the facade. It stands out with its mansard roof type, connected to the corner tower. Other interesting elements are the enfilades in the neo-Renaissance Na Struze building. During the renovation, the original arrangement of rooms and doors was preserved, faithfully reconstructing the door woodwork. In turn, the Křižíkova tenement house is an eclectic combination of the neo-Renaissance style with elements of Art Nouveau. The elements restored there include the decorative facade with baroque details.

Projects in Poland

Also in Poland, Zeitgeist has decided to engage in the revitalization of buildings that remain in full or in details under conservation care. In the coming years, the company would like to start work on recently acquired properties. They include, in Warsaw: the complex at Nowogrodzka/Św. Barbary Streets, the buildings at Wrzesińska Street 2, and Długa Street 44-50. The company has also launched projects in Krakow: the Main Post Office building at Wielopole Street 2 and the buildings at Cystersów Street 21. The properties, once restored, will be offered for short- and long-term rental, for example in the form of apartments, student flats or a hotel. While working on its properties' future designation, the company pays special attention to the needs and guidelines of the city's architecture departments, monument protection, and urban planning, so that the projects meet the current needs of the city and conservation requirements.

About the Presenter:
Luiza Grunwald, an architect with a degree in Architecture and Urban Planning of the Cracow University of Technology, a scholar of The University of Tennessee in Knoxville, USA. For almost 20 years she has been designing and managing construction projects. She began her career as an architect designing office and residential buildings, including the adaptation, extension, and revitalization of a 1930 tenement house at Warecka Street in Warsaw. The next stage of her professional development was the management of class A office building projects in Warsaw, including the Ambassador Office Building, Nestle House Ocean Plaza and Artico in the area of Domaniewska Street. She's been associated the longest with architectural firm Aukett Fitzroy Robinson and the Kronos Kapital investor. Ms. Grunwald joined the Zeitgeist Asset Management team in 2018, currently serving as the managing director in Poland.

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