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  • Writer's pictureHinton Magazine

Chybik + Kristof Lead The Way In Responsible Development Through Adaptive Reuse Projects

With limited spaces available in cities for new construction and growing demand for affordable housing, CHK’s numerous adaptive reuse projects provide a viable way to utilize existing buildings and infrastructure as unique architectural solutions to aid in reaching the UN’s net zero carbon emissions target.

Seeing demolitions as a global issue, CHYBIK + KRISTOF (CHK) address the need to work from existing structures, ultimately shifting the conversation in architecture from creation to transformation. Following the approach of adaptive reuse, the studio showcases their expertise through several projects, including the design for ‘1633 Broadway Adaptive Reuse’, brutalist ‘Zvonarka Bus Station’ and the completed ‘Gallery of Furniture’. Breathing new life into these buildings, CHK utilize their existing state no longer actively serving the community and transform them by contributing to their cultural and historical value, while encouraging social and economic development.

With climate change as one of the most significant challenges of today affecting urban development, architects have a great responsibility to positively affecting it. Turning to adaptive reuse has become a critical and effective way forward conserving resources, reducing waste and addressing wider economic, and political issues. As our built environment accounts for 39% of gross annual carbon emissions worldwide[1], and considering it can take from 10 to 80 years to pay back the carbon debt that is incurred when an existing building is replaced with a new structure[2], adaptive reuse offers a myriad of benefits for environmental and social sustainability. Fully embracing this approach, CHK develops various innovative solutions for transforming existing structures into functional, and visually striking spaces, making it possible to easily manage the already-built environment. The studio actively engages and offers reliable and cost-effective solutions to the challenges of urban development and infrastructure, offering new ideas to adapt existing buildings and infrastructure to current social needs. As the architectural transformation of the spaces preserves the character and history of existing buildings, while also promoting responsible development, CHK showcase their expertise in the field of adaptive reuse architecture.

From transformations of showrooms and decaying brutalist bus stations to reimagining monofunctional office buildings, CHK’s engagement with diverse benefits of adaptive reuse in architecture underlines their expertise and extensive knowledge of preservation and positive social change. With a strong commitment to perpetuating architectural heritage with a focus on social awareness, the studio demonstrates creative ways to work with adaptive reuse in several of their projects such as ‘1633 Broadway Adaptive Reuse,’ ‘Zvonarka Bus Station’ and ‘Gallery of Furniture’.

1633 Broadway Adaptive Reuse is the latest prototype design solution by the studio for vacant spaces due to the changing landscape of office culture as a result of a two-year COVID-19 pandemic and a massive turn to remote work. The design is marked by a unique structural system, innovative ideas related to sustainability, new internal forms, and building functions, and envisions a new life for the office building, proposing a completely functional neighborhood in a single skyscraper. The project is the studio’s design proposal directly responding to the office crisis, honoring the legacy of the existing structure, adapting it and converting it to the needs of the 21st century. Demonstrating a unity of working and living spaces, the project sets a new precedent and typology for contemporary living within a major city actively addressing the paradigm shift of office culture, adaptive reuse of vacant office skyscrapers and turned to mixed-use buildings including residential and shared spaces.

Self-initiated in 2011 and completed in 2021, the redesigned Zvonarka Central Bus Terminal in Brno, Czech Republic, saw CHK actively engage in readapting the existing Brutalist structure – a steel supporting frame and concrete roof and its original architectural identity. Stressing the station’s central role in the city’s sociocultural fabric, the studio addresses the urgency to rethink the use of a decaying transportation hub and public space. Paying homage to the original design by Radúz Russ, they expose the station's characteristically raw brutalist structure. Placing transparency, and access, at the root of their design, they have transformed the bus terminal into a functional entity adapted to current social needs. Adopting a holistic sociocultural and technical approach, they ultimately bring forward a user-centered design that moves beyond the mere construction process. While creating a functional redesign receptive to the communities’ needs, the architects cultivate the station’s essence as the city’s social nerve, envisioning its integration in the surrounding urban fabric and inviting new social dynamics within it.

"We believe in adaptive reuse becoming the precedent for the next generation of architects as our studio is exceedingly committed to designing transformative spaces serving as leading examples of responsible development in creating more resilient, and socially inclusive communities," said Ondrej Chybik, co-founder of CHYBIK + KRISTOF.