Where dishes once used to clink, gravy used to fill the air and sweaty cooks served mashed potatoes from behind the counters, today art is being served as the main course. We are no strangers to Ústí - we know that this city hidden under a veil of smelly aromas can surprise. It started with a phone call. The dean of the Faculty of Art and Design called and offered us a dessert amid the architectural challenges: the conversion of the canteen into a House of Art. A similar challenge doesn't come along every day. Transforming a building that used to cater to basic human needs into an institution of such a lofty character was a challenge, so we grabbed onto the project faster than the canal covers in Předlice are disappear on a Friday night.
The intention of the Faculty of Art and Design was to completely refurbish the building and transform it into a key cultural and educational institution for the entire city and its region. The intended House of Art was to become a hub where academics and the public would meet, a place that would present contemporary art and provide space for various lectures, workshops and discussions.
The design was based on the requirements of the faculty. It was not easy to elevate a former catering facility into a sanctuary to the Arts. However, through the new design, we have given the old building some of the grandeur that such an institution undoubtedly deserves. The new design reveals the hidden qualities of the original building. By partially freeing up the layout, we have brought more light and a touch of refined charm to the sunken spaces. The new layout of the house meets the high demands of contemporary gallery practice, complemented by a multi-functional hall and student residence.
Water rushes under Koucký's bridge and the former canteen is now an art space. The transformation took years ,and they were not exactly easy ones. The project was challenging not only in terms of the technical condition of the building, but also because of its distinctly different typology. Today, the stress of the construction process is veiled in a blur of memories. What stands before us is a proud institution born from the ruins of a canteen scented with condiments and letter soup. The House of Arts stands proudly among the apartment blocks. The white phantom among the colourful facades is a fresh air to the sour atmosphere of industrial Ústí and shows that better times are beginning to dawn here.