Yoga Garden & Art Gallery Brno / RO_AR Szymon Rozwalka architects
Text description provided by the architects. The architecture designed for the Yoga Garden and Art Gallery Brno is the result of a search for a natural and at the same time abstract space. We wished to create a space without the deceitfulness of nostalgia (industrial fake) or false spirituality (exotic cliché). Within our European context yoga, just like architecture, too often succumbs to the false of preconception, which we have attempted to avoid. The original building was a post-industrial structure within a historical block development, a severed fragment of a former whole. A fragment in which certain traces of the past were visible, others hidden and others still entirely forgotten. All of these traces were interesting and could have become the initial point of departure of the project. However, we decided on a different manner of radical intervention – without fear, but with respect for the old. The result was not intentionally determined in advance but was the result of individual decisions.
Wherever the existing building obstructed us, we decimated and transformed it. We demolished fragments of it in order to create new gardens, we demolished pillars in order to enlarge the space, we ripped out its innards to give ourselves the freedom to create something new. Wherever it was in accordance with our visions, we incorporated it into the project. We merely renovated the old skylights, carefully cleaned the construction beams and timbering, but left all the traces of wear and tear. Some of the plasters in the interior were only partially cleaned, and still, show signs of the original damage. The process was an open dialogue in which the new dares to be new, while the old dares to be old.
Our aim was to create an expansive space full of light, and simultaneously full of subtle connections between the individual fragments of the interior. The entrance area can be seen from the gallery, followed by the greenery of the garden, and in the next plan, people practising yoga. In a similar manner, we have attempted to interconnect the interior with the world around it. To feel the city of which we are apart. We see fragments of buildings, trees, the sky, while the space at the same time provides us with the option of easily forgetting them and concentrating on ourselves.
In a number of places, the original brick constructions of the pillars and walls, the wooden beams, and frames have been strengthened with new reinforced concrete and steel constructions, bringing a contemporary aesthetic to the building and also infusing the resulting space with an almost abstract lightness. Two new atria have been incorporated into the design of the building, with greenery designed by the garden architect Mirka Svorová. The first atrium surprises visitors with its contrast between the confined, articulated space of the entrance corridor and the open gardens full of light. The rear atrium is an autonomous microcosm. It becomes a background, scenography for the main hall – an image that changes according to the season of the year.
One of the fundamental values of the Yoga Garden is: “sustainable growth and minimising the impacts of our society on the environment.” We have attempted to apply the investor’s approach here within the project. The gardens hold rainwater, and thanks to their low-tech design they do not require watering – the accumulation layer retains water, which is sufficient for sustaining the vegetation. As architects, we have to face the challenges of today, both climatic and cultural-sociological. We are convinced that architecture functions most strongly on a subconscious level.
The subtle, almost abstract undermining of the given is our way of learning to live in a state of subconscious uncertainty – an essential skill for embracing the contemporary “liquid” world. The architectural example of an attempt to introduce such a delicate uncertainty can be found in the main hall, where following the demolition of the concrete pillar a wooden binding beam “levitates” in its incredible length as to if it wished to defy gravity, which is further accentuated by its crossing with the strip of the LED light. An abstract space with subtle elements of uncertainty.