New town center of Šlapanice – architectural competition

In 2021 the town of Šlapanice, located about 10 km southeast of Brno, announced a competition called the New Center of Šlapanice. The subject of the competition was the urban design of the new district on the site of the former sugar factory. The design also included the reconstruction of a historic granary into a community center. Currently, about 7.5 thousand inhabitants live in the town, in the future it is expected to gradually increase its population to about 10,000 inhabitants.

The axis of the town is formed by the brook of Říčka and its wide valley. The linearity of the stream and the valley, which is intersected by an important historical route to Brno in the center of the village, is strongly reflected in the structure of the town. Settlement development also began here. Over time, the development grew along the stream and into the slopes of the valley. The river thus became a link between important public spaces such as Masaryk and Svatojánské Square, Šlapanice Park and the Andělka and Čertovka Nature Parks. The stream has significant social and recreational potential as a link not only in the town of Šlapnice itself, but also for the interconnection of the town with the surrounding villages.

The city is gradually developing this potential. One of the beads on the imaginary string of Říčka is the area of ​​the former sugar factory. Thanks to Říčka, this part of the city, neglected for decades, also has a chance to become a full-fledged part of it and to be directly connected to the historic center.

Project: Sugar factory - new center of Šlapanice
Competition result: 2nd place
Authors: Pavel Hnilička, Tereza Rákosníková, Antonín Topinka
Client:  Town of Šlapanice
Year: 2022

The urban design consists of three basic elements: water, park and houses. The Říčka riverbed will be adjusted closer to the natural arrangement with the representation of ponds and gentle meandering. The park stretches along Říčka to the maximum possible length through the existing gatehouse and reaches to Čechova Street. It will follow the structure of green areas along the stream and will serve the whole city as a place for everyday recreation. From the sugar factory it will be possible to walk along the river to the center of Šlapanice.

The houses are arranged in a short distance city format with streets and squares. The park, together with public spaces, will leave more than half of the area to citizens and the public, yet the new construction is compact enough to create pedestrian links and attractive public spaces.

The structure of public spaces emphasizes the residential character and movement of pedestrians and cyclists. The basic building blocks are three public spaces. The main "Sugar" Square will create a cultivated forecourt of a historic granary, which will house a ballroom and a restaurant with a brewery. Other public functions are also oriented to the square, namely a home for the elderly, medical practices and wellness.

The second area underlining the importance of the historic building is U Komínu Square. It is located in the place of the largest swell of the new park. A funnel-shaped space facing the park is defined around a chimney. Remains of industrial architecture, town houses with ground floor and stone paving will be a clear opposite of the lush greenery of the new park. The third area at the head of Tyršová Street will complement the structure with its green, calm character.

The method of construction is closely related to the restriction of foundation in a contaminated environment. The private garages of the individual blocks are designed as semi-recessed or perched directly on the ground. This solution is also advantageous from a financial point of view, as the excavation of underground garages is always more expensive.

This also brings many advantages for the function of the objects themselves. The cars are out of sight and the roofs of the garages in the courtyards serve as private gardens or as semi-public passages and patches. The elevation of the front gardens and courtyards provides these spaces with greater intimacy and demarcation from purely public spaces. At the same time, a higher ground clearance is possible in places with an active ground floor.

When designing modifications to the Šlapanice granary, we try to preserve its original character. We repair the historic facade to its original condition and maintain external and internal constructions as much as possible. However, we acknowledge significant local interventions. We highlight new skylights or entrances to the building with minimal design and the use of black steel. This aims to make the whole proposal clear.

The town´s plan is to create a municipal hall, a restaurant and a clubhouse in the granary among other things. Our design seeks a functional and economical layout that will add value to any space.

In the hall, foyer or clubhouse of the granary, part of the original ceilings, beams and columns are removed. Thanks to this, generous and bright spaces are created in an otherwise relatively closed building with small windows.