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June 11, 2021

Renovation as Sustainable Practice: The Zvonarka Bus Terminal

Originally built in 1988, this transport hub in Czechia was gradually falling into disrepair until local architects Chybik + Kristof proposed a more sustainable solution.

The Zvonarka Central Bus Terminal, the main bus station for the city of Brno, is a stunning example of the country’s brutalist heritage. Rather than lose this history and waste resources in the process of replacing the aging terminal, Chybik + Kristof decided to restore the space, maintaining its beautiful character and protecting the environment at the same time.

In redesigning the station, the architects focused on making the original design more user-friendly so that the historical building could continue to serve the community. The large steel framework of the roof, a typical feature of brutalist design, was restored and repainted to create a more inviting interior for the well-recognised feature. The exposed concrete walls were similarly maintained to preserve the stylistic heritage.

The biggest change to the building involved installing a new, more accessible passenger zone with an information office, ticketing and waiting area, and refreshments stalls. These facilities sit under an impressive red wave cover that contrasts the sharp angles seen around the rest of the building, making it easily identifiable for incoming patrons and giving the stalls an extra layer of insulation. This more welcoming redesign allows for a social sustainability of the building, where locals and travellers alike can continue to use and appreciate the station, just as they have for the past thirty-three years, while also allowing the building to adapt to the city’s growing population.

[W]e no longer operate from a blank page. We need to consider and also work from existing architecture – and gradually shift the conversation from creation to transformation.
- MICHAL KRISTOF, CO-FOUNDING ARCHITECT OF CHYBIK + KRISTOF.

Renovating the existing station, rather than completely demolishing it to rebuild a new one, was also an environmentally conscious choice. Preserving the building’s existing materials minimised the use of new, finite resources that a complete rebuild would need to replace them. The building industry is responsible for up to thirty percent of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, highlighting the importance of projects that minimise energy-intense processes such as the extraction of new materials. Chybik + Kristof also reduced energy consumption by eliminating the need for an extensive and power-hungry light system in the station: they repainted the steel roof to better reflect and carry the natural and artificial light, while also removing some internal walls to enable the light to travel further.

In many ways, Chybik + Kristof’s approach to the Zvonarka Bus Terminal resembles the sustainable practice of upcycling, as they’ve instilled new life into an aging building rather than throwing away its still-valuable materials. The resulting renovation is not only more environmentally friendly, but also an incredible example of how heritage architecture can be brought into the modern era, allowing culturally significant buildings to be appreciated by visitors for the decades to come.

For more architectural design that is fully immersed in local heritage while also embracing sustainability, check out our feature on The Sharaan, a resort currently being built in Saudi Arabia.

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