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Located at the foot of Mikulov Castle, a fairytale landmark in the Moravian town of the same name (also known as Nikolsburg) in the Czech Republic, the Štajnhaus guest house has recently opened its doors to the public after being thoroughly renovated by Czech studio ORA who have combined the building’s original medieval sensibility with a contemporary aesthetic of ascetic elegance and modernist charm.

Tracing its origins back to the 16th century, the building, which is registered as a cultural monument, has sustained extensive damage throughout its history as well as numerous reconstructions and alterations that had irrevocably altered its original character. Nevertheless, the architects set out to restore as many of the original elements as possible, a cumbersome process that involved continuously revising their design during the construction phase since, as architect Jan Hora explains, “a lot of details had been kept hidden in underlying layers”.

Thus, under as many as ten different layers, the renovation revealed several types of brickwork and plasterwork as well as old openings and a set of stone steps. The fact that there were no straight walls or rectangular openings to be found made the renovation all the more challenging.

The renovated building, which includes both guest rooms and a holiday residence for its owner, features an assortment of distinct characteristics mined from its rich history such as plastered double-barrel vaults, wooden ceiling beams, quirky windows of different shapes and sizes and intricate tiles, as well as a restored vaulted brickwork wine cellar, all tied creatively together to form an organic entity where, per the architects’ intention, “you can’t easily recognise what is old and what is new”.

The five unique guest rooms, named Yellow, Blue, Green, Gray and White after the colour of their floors, are designed with a bleached out palette of white hues and natural wood finishes and furnished with bespoke pieces made out of recycled wooden beams and lightweight rough steel.

Painted black and used for light fixtures, bed frames, hand-rails and other furnishings, the slender steel elements provide strong accents amidst a welcoming ambience of muted tones. One more indication on how ORA’s design has managed to reinstate the building’s historic integrity through a contemporary lens while establishing a sense of comfort.

Design: ORA

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