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Architects: Tomáš Hradečný, Jan Šépka, Petr Hájek
Client: Michal Čillík
Address: Černín

Villa Hermína has had a long genesis. It was initially conceived with the exhibition project of the architectural and design office HŠH architekti entitled Space House (1999), which inspired the future investor to select this architectural office for the design of his own family house. Nine years of joint discussions, reflection and search for solutions then yielded a singular space house itself. Like in the nearby family house for the Pszczolka family in Beroun (2001–2004), this is also a supremely individual solution tailored to a specific client.

The exhibition project of the architectural and design office HŠH architekti, Space House, which was first presented in Prague’s Jaroslav Fragner Gallery in 1999, dealt with the theme of space as an essential constant in the process of designing and understanding architecture. The authors of the exhibition, the architects Petr Burian, Jan Šépka, Tomáš Hradečný and Petr Hájek, endeavoured to demonstrate on six examples of specific houses the diverse spatial conceptions of buildings to emphasise the importance of space in architecture, because they believed that precisely space is usually neglected in contemporary creation at the expense of preference of other architectural quantities such as light or emphasis on the materials.

And it was precisely the outlined approach to creation, attempting to achieve the apposite concept creatively and not to compromise in it, that captivated the future investor in Villa Hermína, Michal Čillík, at the mentioned exhibition. In order to understand more easily the context of the time, it is necessary to mention that at the turn of the century there were still not very many quality family houses in the Czech Republic. Most of the potential builders at that time focused their interest on substandard catalogue production, which with its pandering drew in a number of inexperienced customers. The relative ease of the purchase of a family house project and analogously quick construction led to areal building development of the areas around cities without an imprint of an architect, or even an urban planner.

Villa Hermína is a small family house at the very end of the small village of Černín. Although it does not have to seem very obvious at first sight, the central theme of the whole building is the internal spatial arrangement. Colour plays only a secondary role here. The carcass of the interior is an open, continuous space which runs uninterrupted throughout the building. This untraditional scheme is derived from two basic aspects. The client’s wish was in first place; he as an ardent film lover wanted to have a special room suitably modified for screening films.

This eventually became the fundamental starting point in terms of ideas for the architects, who were inspired by the natural incline of the surrounding terrain for the design of the cinema hall, from which the entire concept of the building gradually arose: the house stands on a slope, which thus naturally determined the slope of the internal ramps, forming the predominant part of the living space. Nevertheless, the local hill reaches a 21% grade and so it is a quite experimental dimension for housing.

The lower of the two ramps is adjusted as a screening room with small hanging armchairs, whereas the upper ramp offers through a large, undivided window a never-ending film in the form of the variable panorama of the nearby Brdy Hills. This solution does not allow for the placement of standard furniture but all the more amplifies the intensive spatial experience, the perception of every movement as well as the mutual proximity of the family members.

The remaining area between the inclined segments on the entrance floor is utilised for building in the kitchen with dining area; on the lowest level, the children’s room and study are placed; and in the place under the ramp there is also a spacious technical room. The master bedroom, actually only a bed, has been cantilevered on the highest level in the open space over the ramp like a ski jump. On the individual floors, the bathrooms are also situated in the straight parts along the entrance wall of the house.

The limited internal colour scheme is dominated by a distinct green shade applied to the floors and partially also to the ceilings as an association of the green vegetation in the adjacent garden which in this form permeates also through the house itself. Because of the significant inclination of the slanted areas, it was not possible to use standard flooring materials and therefore an antiskid tartan was chosen, normally used at sports facilities. The rest of the area is submerged in grey tones. The neutral background creates the optimal scene which allows the house’s inhabitants as well as visitors to stand out.

The internal spatial composition defines also the outer form of the house. Each wall is perforated by only one opening. The slanted roof follows the same inclination as the ramps. The untraditional form of the exterior, however, is primarily determined by the polyurethane sprayed coat, which fulfils the role of heating and water insulation. Its resultant texture has not been smoothed in any way on purpose. On the other hand, the handiwork of the craftsmen is acknowledged here. The artists intended the selected, somewhat extravagant colour shade of pink paint as a reference to their favourite building of the cavitation tunnel of the Versuchsanstalt für Wasserbau und Schiffbau in Berlin by the architect Ludwig Leo (1968–75), where a similar pink shade has been applied to the bodies of the massive pipes.

The investor in Villa Hermína Michal Čillík did not perceive the construction of a family house as simply a means to the formation of a home but rather as a process of the creation of an original work of art. And he managed to find suitable architects for the given task.