Mjölk architekti’s ultra-modern moves on a humble mountain hut make a perennial Christmas cottage with a seasonal surprise in northern Czechia
Nestled in a tiny village in the Jizera Mountains, on Czechia’s northern border with Poland, this 130-year-old cottage’s secret creeps up on you silently like Santa’s Christmas visitation. Liberec-based architect Mjölk was as aware of the history the building as its site: two world wars, communism, moon landings and democracy yet all the time the simple little cabin has sat at the edge of its woods.
Which it still does of course; except that now, out of sight until you arrive at it, something startlingly contemporary sits appended to it – a sheer glass rear extension with a bold oculus rooflight bulging from the old cabin’s roof, as if it still had one eye on the past.
But despite the monolithic steel foundations and that support the extension’s new steel structure, frameless glazing and flat roof, strangely its not the juxtaposition of this with Nordic larch and roof shingles that create the real drama, but the interior interplay of modern but considered materials with the cabin’s existing timber and granite. This is most evident in the sunken ground floor the defines the point where you step up from the new into the old. Here, a gorgeous, tiled hearth extends into the kitchen, dining and living spaces which are unified with a poured concrete floor. Its thin, reflective brass ceiling is not only luxuriant but surreal, counter-pointing the existing timber soffits that prevail elsewhere.
Up a new steel staircase, the experience veers from cosy to vertiginous, with warm, rustic, red-painted bedrooms leading off corridors of thick glass floors that generate shocking new sections, lit by the firm’s trumpet-shaped lights And once switched off, by night from the master bedroom, looking out beyond the roof oculus is akin to a life-sized snowdome, with a moonlit winter world dreamily captured in its glass curves.
Glass, brass, steel, tile, timber, fire, smoke and stone. These most elemental materials brought together in a remote mountain landscape; a primitive hut for modern man.