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From a sacred space to a concert hall—The rebirth of a church interior

Music is an essential part of religious liturgies—the majestic, almost heavenly sound of the organ is a striking interruption to the scenes of worship, but how can other musical tools fit into this setting alongside the Queen of Instruments? The Church of St. Anne in České Budějovice in the South Bohemian region has been home to the South Czech Philharmonic since 1988, thus masses have been replaced by concerts—and in a setting that’s clearly out of the ordinary.

The Czech church—and now concert hall—has undergone a massive reconstruction lately, based on the design plans of Atelier A8000, founded by Martin Krupauer and Jiří Střítecky. The choice was ideal, as besides having founded one of the top Czech architectural firms, Martin Krupauer has also personally defined the development of the region. The main objective of the church reconstruction was to create a modern building, in a style that is a continuation of the original, which meets the requirements posed by the current, changed functions, and with special emphasis on acoustics and temperature control.

To meet the above, the hallmarks of the reconstruction were simplicity, symmetry, and clarity. The old acoustic ceiling, heavy suspended corridors, and side balconies have been replaced by minimalist elements that elegantly highlight the original structure of the hall. The space is now characterized by simple lines, and a limited choice of colors and materials, such as wood, and black and white tones. The harmony of stark colors and aesthetic humility prevails down to the smallest details: the newly added interior elements are made of wood, the original elements of the hallway and the acoustic panels under the ceiling are white, all doors and windows are painted black, the surface of the walls is sculpted only by the shadows of the acoustic panels. The most striking and perhaps the most spectacular feature of the interior are the bright “acoustic clouds” hanging from the ceiling, which together evoke the sky and a classical depiction of the heavens. By removing the previous elements, the hall has been transformed into a much cleaner and more liberated space.

The philharmonics’ vital need was to improve the acoustics, which played a crucial role in the development of the concept. In the renovated space, the sound is reflected in multiple directions, partly due to the aforementioned acoustic cloud-elements. Besides other things, the previously malfunctioning air-conditioning system has been refurbished to ensure proper storage of the instruments, and the acoustic wood paneling on the back wall of the hall reflecting the sound of the organ is also a major innovation.

Atelier A8000 has transformed the space into a pleasant environment that creates a high-class atmosphere for concerts—a project that was particularly important for the city of České Budějovice, as it did not previously have an acoustic space of this standard, with 172 comfortable seats. The Roman Catholic Church of St Anne dates back to 1620, and its unconventional history has taken a new direction once again thanks to the reconstruction: a conductor will dictate from where a preacher used to stand. 

Photos: Ondřej Bouška

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Source: Czech Design

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