A Czech architectural firm has given a bright new life to Brno’s socialist-era Zvonarka Central Bus Terminal.
With its exposed concrete roof and steel frame, the original transport hub was designed by Radúz Russ and opened in 1988 — only to be privatised a year later as the Eastern Bloc collapsed. High maintenance costs then saw the building left to decay, alongside thousands of others across Eastern Europe. But unlike Prague’s socialist-era Hotel Praha and Transgas headquarters, which were demolished in 2014 and 2019 respectively, Zvonarka has been given a light and airy upgrade that incorporates its brutalist features into a modern design.
Architecture studio CHYBIK + KRISTOF painted the building’s interior steel structure white to create a more contemporary feel. After removing the temporary structures built in the 1990s, they integrated more lighting, a new information office, ticketing and waiting areas into a separate, self-contained building that rises from street level in a gentle, cresting wave.
CHYBIK + KRISTOF embarked on a journey to restore the building back in 2011, when the studio had only been around for a year, spreading awareness about the bus station and its plight on social media, and sparking a dialogue between stakeholders and public authorities.
They say that revitalising Zvonarka was just one example of how architects can play an intrinsic social role in their work — in this case, by improving the lives of the 17,000 passengers who use the hub each day.
“Demolitions are a global issue,” CHYBIK + KRISTOF say. “[Architects] need to consider and also work from existing architecture – and gradually shift the conversation from creation to transformation.”
This article is part of Concrete Ideas, an architectural series highlighting creative and emblematic projects in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.