Karlin is an interesting and diverse quarter, with good urban scale and close proximity to the center of Prague. There exists here a friendly, cultivated character, full of life, diversity and culture. The quarter is bordered to the north by the Vltava River, and, to the South by Zizkov Hill, which gives Karlin even more attractive urban, European character. Karlin has been in a phase of tremendous growth and transformation for the last ten years, and is an excellent example of successful regeneration, with an exceptional number of brownfield/industrial conversions.
In a transitional context of residential blocks and former factories (solitaires), we found the site for AFI Karlin BUTTERFLY exceptional in essentially three ways – it is at the unique moment of transition on an axial street crossing the entire district; it sympathizes with of the diagonal geometry marking special buildings nearby; and, it is one of few, modern office buildings with direct contact to Zizkov Hill and its majestic green.
Obviously conceived of as tactile and ‘friendly’ modern object, the building has essentially four thematic gardens that create important intermediate spaces between itself and its context– North (winter), South (summer), East (spring) and West (fall) – which both invite the public into the site and as well create a dialogue between the object, the neighborhood and the people living and working in the surroundings.
CMC was inspired to super-position here an inversed form - an elliptical, bi-winged object - which at once speaks to the machine factory history of Karlin, while at the same time assimilates the organic, park character of Zizkov hill. It was invented as a conceptual marriage between two opposing phenomenon. The result is a surprising new identity, with richly detailed facades, open public gardens, and a building bringing a friendly open face to its context.
The AFI KARLIN BUTTERFLY is as tactile as it is intelligent, with a clear ecological goal of not only a high-level of energy certification, but also of visual and physical comfort of is users and visitors. It is intended as a ‘living work’ with human scale and the enhancement of its sensory level environment. CMC is creating a dialogue between the district and one of its remarkable assets – Zizkov Hill. The result is almost of Baroque character, of movement energy, but in a quiet confidence, as if the building has been here for years already.
The facades of AFI KARLIN BITTTERFLY are its dynamic – they qualify the object as a living organism, which grows, changes and moves in time, while also insulating the building and creating oxygen in the immediate context. The vertical gardens as well contribute to improving the acoustic character of the surrounding neighborhood. Technically, the facades are a curtain wall assembly, composed of layers including low-e, high-performance triple glass, exterior textile blinds on sensors, metal insulated panels, KINGSPAN backing boards and over 40 000 potted plants with automatic irrigation. Natural ventilation is achieved via metal panels in the glazing system.
The central atrium was invented as a space for the building to ‘breathe’, where people go out and can still be inside. It’s a multi-functional space with a dual psychology – normally it’s a contemplative zone where curves surround you, green engulfs you and water relaxes you – but it can also be an event space, which is active, lively and cultural.
For centuries, architects have collaborated with artists successfully in many ways, including interiors and featured works of art in public spaces, lobbies and special rooms. CMC is convinced that this collaboration enriches buildings and spaces, not only for the users, but also passive observers. At AFI KARLIN BUTTERFLY, we had a compelling desire to give more meaning and interaction between the building and its place in Karlin. We brought the notion to AFI EUROPE that the power of the overal concept could be significantly enhanced if CMC would invite Maxim Velcovsky (LASVIT), who we have previously collaborated with,, to invent original art pieces for the four entry lobbies/reception spaces.
Maxim came with several interesting approaches, however, the most exciting for CMC and AFI EUROPE was that the ‚DNA‘ of Karlin is deeply connected to pioneers, or strong people from its history, including KRIZIK, KOLBEN, BAVORSKA (Princess Karolina) and the actress SCHEINPFLUGOVA. Maxim continued to connect the themes of the organic architecture of AFI KARLIN BUTTERFLY, its ‚living‘ facade with 40 000 plants, and the idea of ‚DNA‘. He invented water drops as the visual link, thereby creating portraits of the Karlin personalities by composing them from ‚water drops‘ of hand-blown glass.
Each portrait has its specific position, its own color of glass and is composed of over 3 500 hand-blown glass balls (or water drops). The lobby portraits can be seen from the exterior even in the daytime, but at night, as the building dissappears, the pioneers and important personalities of Karlin’s history come to life from within AFI KARLIN BUTTERFLY.