At Lasvit’s New Czech Headquarters, the Past and Present Are in Conversation at Every Turn

At Lasvit’s New Czech Headquarters, the Past and Present Are in Conversation at Every Turn

By Alia Akkam
Prague architects OV-A won the competition for the glass manufacturer’s unconventional, four-building work hub situated in a historic locale.

Nový Bor, a peaceful town in the Czech countryside some 90 minutes north of Prague, is synonymous with the age-old art of Bohemian glass-making. Although Lasvit, launched in 2007, is a young manufacturer known for daring, contemporary works, drawing on the deep layers of Nový Bor’s craft and design heritage is important to founder Leon Jakimič—so much so, in fact, that he located the brand's new headquarters in the historic town, too. 

One of the new buildings at Lasvit headquarters. Covered in glass tiles, at night it lights up like a lamp, a sleek but welcoming departure from the local vernacular.

In search of a bold design, one that didn’t just compel aesthetically but both fostered collaboration among co-workers and accentuated a strong connection to community, Lasvit asked various architecture firms to submit proposals. The winning selection, chosen with the help of Czech architect and critic Adam Gebrian, came from Prague-based architectural studio OV-A. 

Another one of the new buildings is covered in black tiles and connects to a historic structure via a breezy glass walkway.

"We saw the old houses that were part of the site and we had the idea to create two new ones, so that they could all work together and get people thinking about Nový Bor and glass-making in a different way," says OV-A co-founder Štěpán Valouch. 

One of the original buildings is clad in wood and features a balcony with stained-glass detailing that honors the past.

Those two original structures Valouch references, found on charming Palackého Square, had vibrant histories that helped shape Nový Bor. One was home to glass workshops since the 18th century, becoming a school after World War II; the other was built as a residence in 1790. 

A close-up of the glass tiles. Lasvit made these specially to resemble the structure of slate, a material that is pervasive throughout the region.

"The old houses were in bad shape," Valouch adds, noting that the beams were rotting, yet OV-A carried on, thoughtfully restoring mud walls and preserving features like larch facades, elegant doors, and stained glass. 

Original doors were among the elements that OV-A carefully preserved.

It took five years to bring Lasvit’s complex headquarters to life, and it was well worth the wait. By deftly incorporating two new, black and white volumes of similar size and shape to the plan, OV-A harmoniously balances the past and present. 

At the entrance, glass art, arches, and tiles re-created from a Baroque-era pattern greet visitors.

"Using concrete was a strange thing for us, and we were challenged to find a contractor who was able to build with it," says Valouch, pointing out that the material is not common to the local vernacular. 

Lasvit staff break for coffee in this dark-hued space with the stand-out vaulted ceiling.

One of the new builds is clad in black cement wall tiles; the other is entirely covered in glass versions placed atop each other diagonally. Made specially at Lasvit, the tiles’ distinctive texture calls to mind the slate roof shingles indigenous to the region. Contemplative and introverted, the black house is juxtaposed with the bright white one, which come evening is a shimmering, minimalist box that also symbolizes the evolution and optimism of glass-making in Nový Bor. "They look like water," says Valouch of the glass tiles. 

The use of wood throughout the headquarters instills a lodge-like sense of warmth and comfort. 

Organically connected via a glass walkway and series of corridors, the buildings all unite around a courtyard and eventually will make way for new additions, including a glass museum that will surely strike up another dialogue on campus. 

Lasvit designs get the spotlight in this hybrid showroom and meeting space.

Inside, the flow is so natural, the demarcations so seamless, it’s hard for visitors to keep track of which building they are in. Importantly, this layout also creates calming pathways for Lasvit staff, who weave between the spaces to plan presentations, break for lunch, or scope out what’s happening in the experimental laboratory. 

En route to workspaces, a social zone that encourages interaction buoyed by views of the courtyard. 

Lasvit regularly turns out collections from the likes of the Campana Brothers, Kengo Kuma, and Yabu Pushelberg, as well bespoke installations. Now, in the black house, there is a three-story space that allows such oversized, kinetic pieces to be displayed as works-in-progress. In the process, it injects an inviting, creative element to everyday office life. 

A soaring laboratory is among the highlights of the new headquarters, allowing Lasvit employees to showcase their large, in-progress glass installations. 

Construction also yielded a few surprises for Valouch, such as the discovery of a deep, hidden well. Now, it’s a highlight of the design narrative, amplified by a glass floor that allows employees and guests to peer down into it and take in another aspect of the town’s legacy. "I just hope that it works well for those who are in the buildings every day, and that the people of Nový Bor are proud of it," says Valouch of Lasvit’s headquarters. "It’s a new hope."

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Project Credits:

Architect of Record: OV-A

Builder/General Contractor: BAK 

Structural Engineer: Marcel Vojanec and Jan Pohl

Lighting Design: Lasvit

Interior Design: Lasvit and OV-A

Sound Engineer: Aveton 

Glass Facade: TGK, technika, sklo a umění, s.r.o.


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