The glass produced in Nový Bor has been renowned for centuries. Today, northern Bohemia’s abundant natural supply of wood and quartz – not to mention local glass-blowers, painters, cutters and engravers – continue to fuel the local craft industry’s growing global footprint. At the heart of the revitalized headquarters of glassmaker Lasvit, a striking “glass house” celebrates both this rich history and continuous spirit of exuberant innovation.
Lasvit’s new hub was designed by Prague-based architects OV-A. The four-building complex, situated on a prominent public square, combines a pair of meticulously restored 18th-century buildings with two dramatically contemporary interventions.
The marquee glass house faces Nový Bor’s Palackého Square with a glazed curtain. Clad entirely in textured glass panels custom-designed by Lasvit to resemble traditional Bohemian slate roof shingles, it reads as a luminescent sculpture from the street, with access provided via Lasvit’s quieter inner courtyard.
In that courtyard, the glass house is joined by a more subdued counterpart. The “black house” is similarly clad in diamond-shaped shingles – in this case fabricated using a specialized cement mixture. While the understated black house is tucked into the heart of the complex, the public-facing glass spectacle commands Palackého Square with a beacon of evening light.
“The black house is closed in on itself, while the glass house is basically a giant lamp for the city and ought to become the very symbol of the gradual rejuvenation of this glassmaking region’s confidence in itself and its craft,” says OV-A principal Štěpán Valouch.
Together with the two historic buildings that bookend the complex – one of which has been occupied by glassmakers since its construction – Lasvit’s hub houses a combination of offices and flexible open spaces, which are designed to welcome visitors and host company gatherings. For the glass company, it is both a headquarters and a showcase.
In a town of some 12,000 people, OV-A’s design introduces a new scale of architectural ambition – and an instant icon. But the radical materiality is made possible by very local innovation, and it is paired with a mannered and contextually deferential form to create a complex that feels of its place. The result is at once playful and arresting – and irresistibly whimsical.
The striking new headquarters for the local glassmaker combines historic preservation with radically contemporary additions.