An Ethics of Materiality  

In connection with landscaped and natural environments, the idea of ‘revitalisation’ means a renewal of the functioning of ecosystems, a renewal of their survivability. And in architecture it is not too different.

Revitalisation is not merely reconstruction. Revitalisation means something much deeper and more essential than the simple re-creation of a building. It is a return to life, a renewal – or a change – of the vital functions that allow a fully valid integration of building and place in the current and the future world. Architects Pavla Melková and Miroslav Cikán characterise the goal of their work as the “revelation of hidden potentials of new life and new functions in historic structures, and their embodiment through a new architectonic intervention… the search for methods of recycling extant built structures as the conditions for the sustainable development of cities and landscapes”. The stress on the viability of architecture in their understanding reaches far beyond the common technical and operational view of this concept: for them, it is an ethical and existential content within architecture, manifested through aesthetics. We will return to the link between the “ethical” and the “aesthetic” later; for this moment suffice it to say that the important aspect of the unification of these two apparent opposites is the unity of building and place.

Photo: Filip Šlapal

Photo: Filip Šlapal

Photo: Filip Šlapal

Design Architects: MCA atelier (Miroslav Cikán, Pavla Melková)

Assistants: Peter Buš, Pavel Košťálek
Location: Prague 2, Nové Město – Karlov
Investor: District government of Prague 2
Chief contractors: Swietelsky, Konstruktiva Branko
Costs: 35 million CZK
Built-up area: 1870 m²
Project: 2007 – 2010
Completion: 2010 – 2011

The complete article is published in Autumn issue of Piranesi No. 31 Vol. 20.

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