A new multifunctional hall is being built in the historic building of the Imperial Baths in Karlovy Vary, which will be used by the Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra for its concerts, among others. It will also host other cultural events and events, for example film productions and theater performances or balls.
In order for the hall to be able to meet the needs of various events, its space had to be variable. Thanks to the adjustable height, the auditorium can quickly be transformed into a conference or ballroom that requires a flat floor. The hall will be complemented by multimedia expositions presenting the history of spas in a global and local context, a cafe, an information center and a research room.
The design of the hall can be characterized as a light, even cautious touch of contemporary architecture and the original building. It’s not by accident. The Neo-Renaissance building of the Imperial Baths from the end of the 19th century has been protected as a national cultural monument since 2010, which is why drastic construction interventions were unthinkable. That’s why the architects designed a building that floats in the middle of the hall on six steel legs and that consistently avoids any direct contact with the historic building and with the original cast-iron columns on the perimeter walls.
A house full of music resembles a giant speaker
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Like a ship in a bottle
The technical point of interest is that the individual parts were inserted into it through the opening roof and assembled into a compact unit on the spot. “It was like building a sailboat in a bottle. First, we had to make everything and assemble it in the hall in order to know that nothing was missing. Then everything had to be numbered, disassembled and reassembled in the atrium of the building. It was a painstaking job, which was supported by amazing technicians from Gradior Tech and AVT Group,” explains architect Petr Hájek. All necessary audiovisual, scenic and acoustic technologies are therefore part of the embedded object. The building is connected only to electrical installations.
All the new elements that have been added to the Císařský lázně building are thus not only clearly noticeable, but above all, from a historical point of view, they can be easily removed.
Visitors to the new hall will surely be impressed at first sight by the distinctive red color of the built-in structure. “Our proposal is based on great respect for the historical space. We knew from the beginning that we would tiptoe around the original building. We want to carefully complement it, enrich it, but not disturb it. For some, the shape of the hall resembles a movie transformer, for others a red crab that has space for music in its arms. The red color chosen is archetypal with many other overlaps. It represents the excitement and emotions, but also the machine aesthetics of the end of the 19th century,” adds the architect.
The first visitors can arrive as early as June
“Petr Hájka’s proposal conceives the building as an autonomous object. At the same time, it fully respects the limits of monument protection and at the same time fulfills the acoustic, operational and technical requirements of a top-class hall for the music production of the Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra, as well as other bodies and groups that will use the space here not only for concerts,” says Karlovy Vary Region Governor Petr Kulhánek.
The aforementioned acoustic properties of the built-in hall can be described as unique. The stage is equipped with a sliding acoustic wall and adjustable rotating panels that adapt the space to various sound requirements. Each side of the rotating triangles in the ceiling has a different function. One absorbs the sound, the other reflects it and the third scatters it.
In this way, the architects created ideal conditions satisfying the various – and sometimes conflicting – needs of performers and various forms of programs. In addition, the panels are decorated with a fine structure based on the morphology of the Slavkov forest. Classic audiovisual technologies are then installed so as not to disturb the overall impression. An integral part of the design is the organ, which, however, will be installed in the hall later.
The public can look forward to the grand opening of the Imperial Baths on June 17, 2023.
Do you like the design of the new hall?
I would need to see it with my own eyes. I don’t know that way.
A total of 7 readers voted.
The Vltava Philharmonic is a life challenge for me, says the winner of the architectural competition Bjarke Ingels
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