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The architects of the FA BUILDING

Lukáš Ehl, Tomáš Koumar and Alena Šrámková about their concept and about the building’s dos and don’ts.

The new Czech Technical University building filled in the last open lot of the university campus designed by the regulation plan of Professor Engel from the year 1924. We wanted to build a reasonable building in this spot, a bit more meagre to lead students to modesty, something simple or even ordinary. (...)

The artistic decoration of the building includes a colour emphasis on parts of the layout. The block of lifts and the block of sanitary facilities have intensive colours in all the over-ground floors of the building. The blocks of lecture halls, including their penetration from the exterior, are also emphasised with an intensive colourful paint.

The building structure is cast-in-situ reinforced concrete with a basic module of 8000 mm. The ceiling panels are designed to be beamless with a constant thickness. The internal walls are concrete and load-bearing and brick with acoustic treatment. (...)

From the perspective of operating expenses, the entire building is deigned to be highly energy efficient.

STUDENTS

When we just started thinking about the concept of a new school, we kind of unwittingly reacted to the environment of the old school. Why was it that everybody only went to school when they had to for lessons, consultations and that was it? The teachers moreover for their work. Nobody went there to make friends, chat, play, read or think.

Everyone who was sitting in the school did not know one another. Contacts were made outside of school: in the dorms, in a club or perhaps at lunch in the library. Nor did the school architecture seem to be all that stimulating to us for students of this particular discipline. So, we reacted to the existing environment and were a bit scared that a modernly equipped, quite automated building with lots of glass would not indicate to students that the discipline of architecture is something unusual, and thus that architects are somebody extraordinary. But, of course, we wanted the architecture of the new school to be the best in the world.

And so we designed an ordinary building for the school. Quite confident. A building that is not too sensitive to clutter, has an internal dignity and, as we believe, is without an exclusive modern design. It also contains a few elements that are not used all that often these days. In some ways it is old school – this is so that it will not get old in the future, so that it is a bit outside of time.

This is the case with the use of glossy paint, which used to be a matter of course, though today it is unusual. Matte paints cover the curvature of the undercoat, though they are not glossy and less colourful. The thorough partitioning in the bathrooms is also of an older date.

We consider the skew of the walls of the lecture halls, on the other hand, to be reminiscent of today’s state of the building industry – just so it is evident when the building originated. But it is a bit outside of the main mass.

We think that the building has a kind of dispositional logic, where nobody can get lost, where you can see where everybody is and, mainly, where nobody is, and it is a place where students will perhaps work more at school than at home.

We were not completely able to defend a purity of the layout. We were forced to increase the teacher’s spaces at the expense of the student’s spaces, and we mainly had to divide the large classrooms and offices in half. That pretty much ruined the simplicity of the layout inside the building, the lighting of the atrium and also the façade, where we had to divide the large windows into smaller ones. It was a request for the new proportion of the school, where there are now more students, and thus also more teachers compared to the plan in 2004.

It probably shouldn’t be possible to paste anything wherever around the school. The pink/violet wall on the ground floor was intended for information, ads and various notifications. Otherwise, nothing should be stuck on the coloured walls around the building. And, mainly, nothing should be stuck on the concrete surfaces at all.

No wiring can be led along the surface of the walls. It can be set into the masonry parts, but it is not possible in the concrete, because the grooves cannot be properly cleaned.

Definitely none of the openings to the glass hallway windows should be screened, which is a problem of the concept of the building and the manners of its users. Those are probably all the dos and don’ts.

We wish you joy in studying the most beautiful discipline of them all.

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