Corten Footbridges Serve as a Roof for the Helfštýn Castle Palace, Czech Republic | Atelier-r

Atelier-r, Olomouc, Czech Republic based architecture studio has recently finished the renovation and restoration work of the Helfštýn Castle, which is the second-largest complex in the Czech Republic right after Prague Castle. The castle was closed in 2014 due to the serious risk of collapse of portions of walls. But now it has reopened with some renovation. To preserve the castle’s authentic character, the architecture firm inserted flat glass roofs between the walls of the ruins that work as a sightseeing route for the visitors to enjoy the picturesque views from the footbridges on the top levels of the castle. SURFACES REPORTER (SR) brings all information about the new additions in the castle. Také a look:

Rising high above the Moravian Gate valley, this castle was established in the 14th century. In 2014 the Renaissance palace ruins had to close down due to severe safety hazards such as falling masonry and remains degradation.

The primary requirement of the castle owner; Olomouc Region, was to renovate the palace along with the construction of a new roof. The National Heritage Institute insisted on the preservation of the building in the state of ruin. The roof was allowed only partially, and it could only go as high as the level of the peripheral walls.

The project planning was rather unique. The 3D model based on thousands of photographs from a drone allowed us to map all the types of plaster and masonry modifications

New Concept

The studio aspired to go beyond the technical reconstruction assignment.

 It strived to complement the historical building with the contemporary architecture that would focus on both practical use as well as gaining an aesthetic appeal. 

In order to immerse the visitors in the historical development of the original renaissance palace we inserted new sightseeing routes into the already existing gaps in the ruins, connecting the ground floor with the newly accessible higher levels of the palace.

Newly added contemporary elements are clearly recognizable in the historical construction.

The firm worked with three basic materials, one for each level of the building. The roofing is made of glass on steel beams, the staircases and footbridges have been made of corten steel and the ground floor paths are made of polished concrete.

Glass Roof

The flat glass roofs have been inserted in between the walls of the ruins. The wide-open sky was the key inspiration when choosing the material for the roof. Using glass provides perfect day light conditions to the interior of the palace.

The firm has chosen to work with the sanded glass for a couple of reasons. It is easy on the maintenance and the flat dispersed light compliments the exhibitions inside the palace. The chapel roof was an exception. The clear glass roof symbolizes heaven quite literally.

The architect has also put a roof on five chosen chambers only.

The corten footbridges serve as a roof for the staircases.

The firm intentionally left out some of the spaces in order to enhance the spirit of the impressive ruins and encourage the visitors to look up to the sky. 

Corten Footbridges

What once used to be a roof has now become the new sightseeing route.

Being this close to the construction details of the original palace and as high as the top of the walls allows the public to admire the historical significance of the sight and the sheer views of the surrounding region.

It was crucial to choose a material that would be timeless.

Corten is a special iron alloy that undergoes a corrosion, matures and matches the texture of the old historical walls.

Moreover, Helfštýn Castle is well-renowned for its iron craftsmanship tradition, therefore it made a perfect sense to choose corten to work with. 

Concrete Paths

On the ground floor the firm designed a network of marching areas and pavements from precise smooth pre-cast concrete boards laid down into individual areas.

Pre-cast concrete is defined by rigorously straight Corten steel profiles that create a distance from uneven and irregular walls.

The area between precise profile and irregular walls is dumped by gravel that highlights both and conciliates irregularity with uncompromising straight forefront.

Past and Present

The concept is based on the respect towards the historical building and it pursues a major effort to preserve the castle’s authentic character.

The palace gained an attractive sightseeing route that allows the visitors to learn about the building history and enjoy the picturesque views from the footbridges on the upper levels of the castle what once used to be a roof.

The contemporary architecture does not compete with the historical building, rather it creates a cohesive unit in which all the elements, old and new go hand in hand.


Project Details

Studio: atelier-r
Principal Architect and Author: Miroslav Pospíšil
Project country: Czech Republic
Project Completion: 2020
Built-up Area: 1370 m2
Client: Olomouc Region
Photographer: BoysPlayNice


Design team: Robert Randys, Lucie Rohelová, Adéla Tomecková, Milena Koblihová, Daria Johanesová / atelier-r
Structural stability of historical constructions: Ladislav Klusácek,
Structural stability of newly inserted constructions: Jan Lukáš,
Rehabilitation of the damp parts of historical walls: Pavel Fára,
Steel and corten construction: Zámecnictví Sloupský
Glass construction: Bubeník 1913
Concrete floors: AAP hranice


Stone / historical masonry
Bricks / historical masonry
Concrete / foundations’ strengthening, ground level floors
Steel / joists and beams of newly inserted footbridges
Corten / beams, floors, cladding of the newly inserted footbridges
Glass / roofing and banisters of a part of newly inserted components

Products and Brands

Corten - RedSteel — UnionOcel
Concrete lights / courtyard of the palace — Viabizzuno
Plastering, grouting / outer and inner walls of the palace — Tubag
Hydroisolation plasters / floors of the palace — Remmers

About studio

Atelier-r is one of the leading Olomouc based architecture studios, found by architect Miroslav Pospisil. The collective has been striving for top quality contemporary architecture and urbanism with the primary focus on the purpose of the building and the impact on its surroundings. The studio is recognized for the reconstructions as well as designing bespoke residential, commercial and institutional spaces of any size. The closely-knit team has always been keen on all the design stages, from the architectural study, through completion of all the documentation to the building supervision to ensure the intended design is well executed. Atelier-r has been awarded Czech Architect Grand Prix 2018 for the Vista Optik building and it received honorable mention in Czech Architect Grand Prix 2013 for the Slovan Gymnazium. The studio also frequently gets recognition in the annual Olomouc Region competitions.

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