Refurbishment and extension of Vrbatova bouda Chalet in Krkonoše Mountains

The restored historic Vrbatova bouda Chalet and the concrete extension thereto is situated in the Krkonoše Mountains National park at 1400 metres above sea level.

The Vrbatova bouda Chalet was built in the early 1960s. The original proposal by architect Vladimír Šír envisaged the usage as a Mountain Rescue base, a snack bar and lodging, but this concept was eventually replaced by the national enterprise Interhotels Krkonoše. In the extraordinary rough climate of the Krkonoše Mountains it preserved its tough, natural and unobtrusive form without any substantial maintenance.
According to the assignment of the new owner, the reconstruction was supposed to deal with the necessary redevelopment, as well as with extending the restaurant premises onto the former terrace, and to build a new snack bar, visitor centre of the Krkonoše National Park and public restrooms in place of the former kiosk and bus stop. Several years of searching for an optimal solution were concluded by an agreement with the Krkonoše National Park administration on the appearance of the Vrbatova bouda Chalet as the only building at the Zlaté návrší hillock, which is to contain all of the above mentioned functions.

The concept of the proposal was to preserve the original building and clear it from recent additions of poor quality. New layers and volumes were gradually added to this building, dominated by three base materials – larch wood, stainless steel and in situ cast concrete with board marking. The massive larch wood is used in the restaurant interior, the snack-bar area, the outer cladding of the attics, and the terrace. The stainless steel covers the kitchen and the whole restroom area, except for the ceiling and the floor. The most expressive motive is represented by the annex building made of sandwich concrete walls made visible on both sides – the interior and the exterior. Moreover, the contrasting form of the annex does not intrude upon the original building; it rather creates a functional symbiosis of the old and the new.

Traditional craft methods were used during the reconstruction. The refurbishment of the interior and the exterior of the building lasted three years due to the short construction season and the need to maintain the partial operation of the kitchen. Waterproof concrete with wood marks contributed to the raw look of the interior and the exterior, in order to resemble the character of the border fortification bunkers, which survived more than 80 years without any maintenance. The final construction costs, including the interior work and the landscaping modifications, amounted to 0.8 mio Euros.