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Mosaic House, Prague

(September / October 2010) posted on Mon Oct 04, 2010

In the Mix: The Mosaic House's lean, green design by Tereza Koucká targets both the hostel crowd and young travelers seeking a four-star spend.

By Jenna Glatzer

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When architect Tereza Koucká from Tek Tek first looked at the boxy building she was hired to redesign, she loved it—but worried that what the clients wanted might be impossible. The Bohemian Hostels group’s aim was to turn a 1930s functionalist building in Prague into a low-energy, eco-friendly hotel/hostel hybrid. An upscale one. On a very low design budget.

Mosaic House—named before the building was bought—was conceptualized as a place where travelers from varying socioeconomic backgrounds could meet and talk in affordable four-star accommodations. The bottom floor would be bunk-bed-style shared lodging (including one dorm just for women), the top floor would be private rooms with spectacular terrace views and the remaining four floors would be mixed (some rooms private, some shared). But the overarching theme would be to encourage social interaction.

How would she make a building from the ’30s eco-friendly and people-friendly? The project took three years, and it had its share of ups and downs. Koucká’s biggest nightmare came in the form of unreliable general suppliers, who she says were “missing respect” for the project and didn’t uphold their own terms. Among other things, they delivered different materials from what she signed off on, and they changed parts of her design without permission.

She also found herself mired in a worldwide economic downturn in the midst of the project, as well as having to work with new partners for the hotel. So her plans were changed several times—in fact, the common spaces’ designs changed right up until the end. It wasn’t a matter of the clients not knowing what they wanted, she explains. In her words, “They were a joy to work with.” But business forecasts fluctuated over the course of the three years, and the target market got less affluent.

Renovations are Koucká’s favorite projects because she enjoys the challenge of having some constraints. This building had housed a theater, which the owners left in place and restored, complete with the original stained glass windows. Most recently, it had been an office building, sectioned off with walls all over the place.


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