Story at a glance:

    • Brno-based DADA Distrikt serves as an affordable housing option in the Czech Republic.
    • Architecture firm KOGAA designed the affordable housing from an old storage facility.
    • The project includes a greywater system used for the building’s washrooms and irrigation.

The Czech Republic has some of the highest real estate prices in Europe, but a team of architects at KOGAA recently unveiled a new option for affordable housing in Brno. Called DADA Distrikt, the former storage facility is now a mixed-use and residential complex.

“The most impressive thing about DADA Distrikt is its unique proposition to the problem with real estate prices in the country,” says KOGAA cofounder Alexandra Georgescu. “The local market lacks affordable housing and therefore calls for alternative development solutions that would also be able to strengthen the quality of public spaces. It’s relatively economical reconstruction was made possible through shared funding and direct sales, therefore avoiding additional investment returns to developers and fees to real estate agencies.”

dada distrikt kogaa gbd magazine photo by qualibau 05

The common spaces are made with minimal impact to the original building. The walls and ceilings were cleaned up and kept bare while the flooring made of washable concrete finish. Photo courtesy of QUALIBAU

Building sustainably was a key goal of the project, and KOGAA designed a green roof as part of that mission.

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Photo courtesy of QUALIBAU

dada distrikt kogaa gbd magazine roof

Roof drawing courtesy of KOGAA

“In response to the issue with floods in the country and the building’s sensible closeness to the riverside, we designed a green roof as a tool for water management,” Georgescu says. “The roof becomes a filter for the rainwater, slowing down the flow and therefore making the building a responsible player at the urban level of the area. The greywater is also used throughout the building for its internal functions such as washrooms and irrigation.”

Of course, the project was not without its challenges. Georgescu says the biggest challenge was finding a way to connect the building to the surrounding area, as it is surrounded by a mix of brownfields and industry.

“The building is located adjacent to the brownfields of the historical industrial Zbrojovka area in Brno, facing the river Svitava that is now activated by just a bike lane and bears the potential of becoming a mediating element to change the whole district,” Georgescu says. “We designed a corner entrance to the building, transforming the intended residential function into a high-quality urban and urban-communicating multifunctional facility. To further connect the function to the street we planned at the ground level a generous open space plan for hosting commercial and office spaces.”

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Photo courtesy of QUALIBAU

KOGAA carefully considers each adaptive reuse project and, in the case of DADA Distrikt, the team was inspired by the building’s history, working with a decorative accent on the facade.

They also maintained the building’s original staircase, highlighting its rounded corner to give the material a unique look.

Designed as a shell-and-core, the main load-bearing structure has been cleaned up to its most elementary and therefore strongest form. This process revealed the possibilities on how to shape the layout solution.

Project Credits

Project name: DADA Distrikt
Location: Brno, Czech Republic
Completion: 2020
Size: 16,145.87 square feet
Architect: KOGAA
Facade Coloring Contractor: QUALIBAU
Interior Designer: Radka Vašut