Žatec - město chmele


Town and Hops

Czech town Žatec located in the Žatec Basin by the Ohře River, represents a globally significant locality with a completely unique story of the continuous development of growing, processing and worldwide trade in hops (Humulus Lupulus in Latin).

Growing of the best finest hops in the surroundings of the town led to the establishment of a large area with a number of entirely unique hops growing and hops processing buildings in the Town of Žatec. Such concentration and number of buildings focused merely on one commodity has no parallel, and has been preserved up to this date to an outstanding quality, entirety and authentic state.

The preserved urban and architecture ensemble in Žatec has witnessed the tumultuous evolution of the hop industry in a region which has entered the global brewing industry in a significant manner.

The former Dreher ´s Exports Brewery is one of the most unique buildings in the town. The extensive grounds complete the picture of importance and use of hops at the time of starting of large-scale beer brewing as well as its competitive production within a small town.

SAAZ HOPS

The German version of a name of the town of Žatec (Saaz) is also a name of an internationally recognised hop brand, the hop variety Saaz “žatecký poloraný červeňák”, which has been long term scientifically studied and professionally cultivated in the local environment

The quality of Czech hops and beer has been established throughout the world. Both have become world-recognised quality standards. Variety Saaz “žatecký poloraný červeňák” with fine hop aroma is these days used to brew the top quality beers at all continents. The world's best-known breweries use this exceptional hops to make beer with the label "premium".

The growing of fine aroma hops has a thousand-year tradition in the Czech Republic. The marking of hops which includes labelling and verifying of hops origin has already started in 16th century. The first state regulations in this area dates back to 18th century. In 1769 the Empress Maria Theresa issued an act about official sealing of hops and issuing documents which guaranteed the unique origin of hops in order to prevent hops counterfeiting and hops origin falsification.

HOPS RELATED BUILDINGS IN ŽATEC

Over the last ten years, a number of building operations took place in Žatec, which focused on restoration of the most threatened or damaged buildings located in the territory of the urban heritage area and the urban heritage zone. More extensive building activities were focused on replenishing the property with equipment, which enables understanding the importance of heritage connected with hops processing. 

The greatest construction operation focused on the restoration of a highly authentic historical hop warehouse, No. 1950 on Prokopa Maleho Square, and the adaptation of the facilities of the hop warehouse, No. 1951, on the same square for the needs of the Hop Museum and Information Centre. During this project, the bearing constructions of the buildings were carefully renovated and their many technical details restored. The whole operation was aimed since the beginning at making the heritage of hop processing more visible, that is why some parts were supplemented in order to support the information and user qualities of this complex. The project became a reference example of the way how to renovate these specific buildings and how to give them a suitable new function.

Within the scope of The Temple of Hops and Beer project two new buildings also originated, which are significant examples of the current architecture in the town. These are an observation tower called the Hop Lighthouse and an extension to the Hop Museum. Their planning and preparation was carefully consulted with both the executive body of heritage preservation and the heritage expert organisation.

Renaissance malt house, No. 356, in Masarykova Street, belonged until lately to the group of unused and critically endangered buildings in Žatec. At the beginning of the 21st century a great part of it was still threatening to collapse. Finally the project of The Temple of Hops and Beer, financed during 2008-2011 from European funds, enabled the conservation of this unique historical and architectural gem. Therefore in 2011, the complex constructional restoration of this historically significant malt house took place. Today it is freely accessible to the public in the form in which it stood after 1900.

The newly renovated building is an authentic symbol of the brewing tradition in Žatec. Architecturally, it is the most valuable building of the whole Temple of Hops and Beer complex.

The Capuchin monastery is a significant monument in the south-eastern part of the town and its renovation has been gradually advancing in phases for several years. Unused for more than twenty years, the building was in serious disrepair, which started to threaten its existence.

The monastery garden was renovated from 2010 to 2011 within the scope of The Temple of Hops and Beer project. The main target was to expand the area of accessible places with high quality aesthetics for the inhabitants and visitors of the town. The total area of 8.500 m2 was renovated in accordance to historical sources in a simplified form of a formal garden with a central accentuation of modern art thematically connected with the hop growing tradition of the town. Part of the garden is a relaxation area and a children’s playground. A small historical building by the enclosing wall was used to strengthen the educational content of the complex as inside are the facilities for visitors and are enclosures for small domestic animals as well as peacocks. The garden is supplemented by a traditional herb garden and an example of a historical hopfield with hop growing on individually embedded poles.

HOPS TRADITION IN ŽATEC

In the town of Žatec, several celebrations related to the tradition of hop growing are held during the year.

THE CHMELFEST (HOPFEST) is a spring festival connected with the commencement of spring works in hopfields. It is organised every year by the association called Chmelobrana (Hop Guard) Žatec, Žatec Brewery and local clubs with a support of the Town of Žatec and regional hops related companies. During this event, which contains elements of thematic jokes and pranks, the future harvest of hops is blessed and symbolically a giant barrel of May lager is opened near the hop field on Žatec main square.

THE HOP HARVEST FESTIVAL – DOČESNÁ

The hard work in hopfields is symbolically ended by a festive final harvest of the last hops from a hopfield in early September. Such festivals are called “Dočesna” in Czech, which means “final harvest” or “to finish harvest” (in the past also: Hopfenerntefest, Hopfenpflucker or Hopfenkranzfest). In Žatec this festival has a proven tradition in pictures and in documents of more than 180 years, since 1883. In contrast with the Munich Oktoberfest, which is especially connected with beer consumption, the Dočesna festival especially emphasises hops. The last hop plants and hops from the hopfields are integrated into all the activities during the festival and used as decorations of the town. This festival logically also includes presentation and sale of a large scale of beer and regional products. Local associations, cultural institutions and hop growing villages bear the hop traditions in Žatec and its wider surroundings. Competitions in traditional hop picking, dancing with a pitcher on head and selection of a Hop Queen and a Hop King are also connected with the festival. Pranks fun and good beer from local quality Žatec hops are always included in the hop celebrations. The traditions of these “final harvests” have been kept on farms and in villages without any interruption up to now.

 

BASIC DESCRIPTION OF HOPS CULTIVATION AND PROCESSING BEFORE BEER PRODUCTION

A hop is an important technical crop grown for harvesting the plant’s seed cones which constitute one of the raw materials for beer production. The hop seed cones give beer a characteristic bitter taste, and at the same time act as a preservative, decisively contributing to the overall taste of beer.

A hop is a perennial plant (Humulus lupulus) that may last up to 20, 30 or more years in a wellmanaged hop field. If not artificially supported, it will grow to 1 or 2 meters. With supports, however, it can climb up to ten meters. This property of the hops has been obviously known to growers for centuries and  therefore a specific hop fields have been developed.

 

The hop starts growing in March; subsequent cultivation includes cutting the shoots and manually attaching the shoots onto the supports (formerly wooden stakes, and from the end of the 19thcentury until today thin wires attached to the upper structure of the hop field); this is followed by summer cultivation work. During the growing season, growers apply protective sprays against pests or diseases.

Harvesting hops occurs after the seed cones reach their technical ripeness. At harvest, the seed cones are closed, elastic when pressed, of a yellow‐green colour with natural shine, have a high content of lupulin (a yellowish, waxy substance) and a typical soft hops odour. Lupulin contains lupulone and humulone which possess antibiotic properties, suppressing bacterial growth favoring brewer's yeast to grow.

The beginning of the harvest is a relatively fixed date and falls, in the Czech Republic, approximately on August 20th. The optimum maturity is, in the long run, between August 25 and 28, and the harvest of mature hops should be completed no later than within 14 – 16 days.

In the initial stage of harvesting, the hop plants are cut off 100‐130 cm above the ground and pulled by hand or (from the 2ndhalf of the 20thcentury) by special equipment mounted on a tractor that slowly passes through the hops field. Hops lianas (hop bines) are then loaded onto hoppers and transported to stationary combines that are usually in the village where the hop fields are located, but they can be transported over longer distances. Plants taken to the combine machine must be fresh and unwilted, the interval between cutting of and harvesting should be as short as possible, otherwise the seed cones may damage. Plant transportation and harvesting must be well organized; plants cannot be "cut for stock" and later processing. In the past, the seed cones were picked ("combed") from the pulled plants directly on the edge of the hop field.

In the second phase of the harvest, seed cones are separated from other parts of the plant, previously manually, and from the 70s of the 20thcentury, almost exclusively by machine, which accelerates the process and allows harvesting in unfavourable weather; the modern combing machines are placed indoors, allowing operators to work under a roof in any weather.

The picked seed cones intensively "breathe", raise their temperature, are of high humidity, there is a risk of dampness leading to degradation (loss of gloss, change in basic colour shade, and other negative impacts on overall head quality) and therefore must be promptly transported to a drying. The interval between combing and drying should not exceed 2 hours. If the interval is longer the harvest needs to be aerated. For these reasons, picking and drying needs to be coordinated precisely. In the past the picked seed cones were transported by cart to the drying areas or spaces.

Originally hop seed cones were dried in a natural drying process, first on the ground and on the sun‐warmed floors of the roof spaces. It was always important to ventilate for rapid drainage of moisture. Methods of accelerating ventilation have been gradually developed using various suspended light facilities or structures. The natural drying process lasted for several days, but when the weather was bad with higher air humidity, the drying process would obviously slow down. In recent history, heated hop kilns were introduced where the hops were spread out on light wooden boxes. From the 1880s there has been a rise in building higher‐capacity hot‐air drying facilities, with furnaces on the ground floor and a system of slat above (for details of drying see also page 112 of the Nomination documentation). Drying in modern times takes place in large drying chambers or on belt driers and the process has been shortened to 6‐9 hours. During the drying stage, maximum circulation of the drying air and perfect exhaust of moisture must be provided so that the seed cones do not become damp.

Dried seed cones are brittle, easily crushed or otherwise damaged, and therefore not suitable for further immediate handling. Hence the moisture levels are monitored constantly during drying. Ideal moisture is achieved by gradual drying, layering of the seed cones in low layers, careful throwing and, if necessary, sprinkling. Sometimes this process takes place in a special device – air‐conditioned chamber. The air‐conditioned chamber is usually connected to a belt drier.

The dried hop seed cones are light, large volume and are therefore need to be immediately pressed. Pressing reduces volume of the hop to one‐fifth of its original volume. This process utilized in the past manual power, which in large facilities evolved into specific procedure using the weight of the person lowered in the filled bag hanging in the space between storage floors. The dry hops fed from above had been stuffed by feet along the perimeter of the sack. This method of stuffing was gradually replaced by pressing directly the hops into transport sacks weighing 60‐70kg. A sack of pressed hops is relatively heavy and large. At the given weight it is about eighty centimetres in diameter and two meters in height. Packing of dried hops into the sacks has persisted to present day. Each sack is weighed separately, labelled with the necessary data, sealed at the top and recorded in
the book of harvested hops.

The sacks are then transported to the central warehouse.

In the central warehouse, the hop is sampled and certified, as without that it could not be exported abroad. Žatec has run The Public Hops Certification Centre since 1884 guaranteeing hops quality. The hops were treated, especially if designated for export, in special sulphur chambers. When the hops are finally purchased and transported to the final customer, the beer production process may start. 

Beer production

Beer is a fermented, slightly alcoholic beverage, which is usually produced in breweries (smaller "home breweries” are also popular). The beer production process  is entirely independent of the hops cultivation and processing locations, because the beer contains a very low hops volume, which is added to the beer in the form of "spice" during brewing.

The principle of beer production lies in the breaking down complex sugars (starch) contained in cereal grains into simple fermentable sugars and subsequent fermentation of these simple sugars by microorganism culture (so‐called brewer's yeast). The production process mixes raw materials with water and thus transfers desired substances into an aqueous solution. The production process was improved especially after the onset of the Industrial Revolution leading to production of larger volumes. The basic beer brewing process can be described as follows: Beer is made from the following raw materials malt, water, hops and yeast.

The primary raw material is "malt". Malt is obtained in the malting plant by having the grain germinate (in the Czech lands, especially barley, wheat somewhat less, or corn or rice) and subsequently dried. Grain supplies starch (or sugars), which later convert to alcohol and carbon dioxide. The produced malted barley is left for about 4‐6 weeks to mature. It is then mixed with already heated water. One unit of malt is usually mixed with four units of water. The next production stage is the so‐called mashing, i.e. melting the malt in even warmer water, forming the "mash" (where polysaccharides break down further).

In the subsequent stage the liquid part of the mash is separated from the solid malt residue by straining resulting in the so‐called "wort", a clear, sweet‐tasting solution. Only at this stage the hops are added in the wort, producing the so‐called hopped wort. In the following process, the hopped wort is briefly boiled for about 120 minutes, where the noble bitter substances pass into the solution and result in the so‐called "hot wort". The hot wort is subsequently cooled in a plate cooler at fermenting temperature of 8 °C. The cooled and aerated wort, after adding brewer's yeast, is then pumped into open containers (fermentation tanks), where the beer ferments vigorously. After 

fermentation, the beer is cooled, the sedimentary yeast pumped out, and poured into the barrels placed in the so‐called lager cellar where the beer is rests to maturity. Maturing takes place in closed tanks at a pressure of 1.0 atm. and temperature up to 2 °C for varying lengths, depending on the type and quality of the beverage (draft beer matures for about 20 days, lager up to 60 days).

Consequently, the beer is bottled according to customer requirements – in casks, bottles or cans. All of these downstream and relatively lengthy processes are completely independent of hops growing areas.

 

GENESIS OF CONSTRUCTION OF THE HOPS LIGHTHOUSE TOWER AS A MEMORIAL TO THE HOP TRADITIONS AT ŽATEC

THE TOWN OF ŽATEC AND ITS PANORAMAS

Historical engravings evidence the town’s medieval silhouette featuring the inherent verticals of the sacral and defensive structures as structures of common function and significance.

Žatec – historic centre from the east, 17th century

 

At the turn of the 19th and the 20th centuries, during the period of the most intense economic prosperity based on hop processing within the town limits, historic panorama had been supplemented by several dozens of verticals formed by tall brick chimneys attached to then new and modern hop and industrial processing plants of the Prague Suburb. These tall chimneys were at that time unpopular yet essential facilities drafting away sulphur gases and smoke; presently these form an essential part of the nominated  property and they are listed as objects deserving heritage care.

These now‐historic verticals contribute the town’s unparalleled panoramas, visible from many vantage points and strengthening the specific town’s atmosphere when walking through the centre. Besides the chimneys, a complex of hop‐processing structures representing industrial architecture had been preserved, integrated into the urban structure, which forms the basis of the nominated property.

The Prague Suburb panorama from the east wider view

A view of the Prague Suburb panorama from the east (detail) the present main „iconic“ panoramic view with chimneys as seen from the east. The Hops Lighthouse tower cannot impact this view at all.

 

CONSIDERING WAYS OF PRESENTING THE PRESERVED HERITAGE

The Prague Suburb with its numerous preserved hop‐processing and related sites along with the town’s historical centre, had been approved by the Ministry of Culture, in the late year 2006 for inscription on the Tentative list for future nomination on the World Heritage List; in the spring of 2007 the relevant documentation had been provided to the World Heritage Centre. This step came along with completing several years’ worth of consultations on optimum forms of presenting this hop‐related heritage that had been preserved in Žatec. Besides careful repairs of authentic buildings as the main goal, the consultations considered other forms of presentations, including multimedia, physical models of the town’s structure and spatial maps.

Preceding this, a consensus had already been reached before 2000 that the exceptional urban structure of the Prague Suburb, with its broad spectrum of building types, would be ideally presented to visitors “from above.” This is based on the fact that specific urban structure of the Prague Suburb hides a number of structures located in the inner yards, there are many interesting elements within “the roof landscape” and these are hidden to “a casual walker” from normal street level. The view “from above” will also help to facilitate interpretation of the wider landscape context, as from the elevated level one may often see as far as the Krušné Hory mountain range, which provides the specific micro‐climate of this hop‐growing region (please refer to Chapter 2.a. of the Nomination documentation, p 52). As the nominated property itself lies in an elevated part of the town, there wasn’t any suitable viewpoint, whether a structure or terrain situation, where a scenic viewpoint could be established outside the present nominated property, providing the desired good viewing quality. Therefore the town administration and the regional heritage authority agreed that a suitable structure may be erected to that specific purpose.

Obviously, the intended viewpoint has not represented the only form of comprehensive presentation of the hop‐related heritage” there is a large Map of the Prague Suburb indicating all hop‐related structures (in 1: 500 scale) located in the entrance hall of the Hops and Beer Temple visitor centre. There is also a 3‐D model of the entire area 01 (in 1:500 scale) showing all hop‐related structures in the entry hall of the recently repaired Renaissance Malt House within the nominated property. Presentation of the hop related heritage had been also subject of several documentary films, including multimedia. Regardless of all these  presentations, the town was lacking a location, which would provide for a complex visual perception of the nominated property in actual perspective and scale of the original. After long discussions among experts the towns decided to include the future Hops Tower within the complex “Hops and Beer Temple” project, as it would facilitate the “in situ” experience of the extent and values of the preserved hop‐associated structures as they had been originally integrated within the functional organism of the town.

The Hops Lighthouse is located on the southern border of the nominated property and its position was chosen so as not to compete with the close‐standing chimneys, which represent the authentic attribute of the whole property value; on the other hand the Tower’s location enabled the visitors to observe the property’s details at sufficient range. We must however admit that its name – the Hops Lighthouse, indicates that the original intention assumed that the structure will be seen and become, in the wider context of the complex urban setting of the town, “a true beacon” for all those wishing to find the visitor centre.

The position of the Hop Lighthouse tower at the southern perimeter of the nominated property, the Prague Suburg in the Component 01.

 

Chmelový maják v jižní části nominovaného statku. Fotografie ukazuje jeho pozici v rámci městské struktury a strukturu tvořenou vnitřní výtahovou šachtou zabalenou do obvodových poloprůhledných částí, kde schodiště umožňuje pohledy různých úrovní.

 

A view of the western part of the Prague Suburb with hops related structures including the chimeys as seen when leaving the internal lift bringing visitors on the upper level of the lookout Hop Lightouse tower.

 

THE HOPS LIGHTHOUSE TOWER RELATION TO CONVERSION AND PRESENTATION OF THE PRESERVED

HOP‐PROCESSINGSTRUCTURES

Some of the hops‐related structures in the Prague Suburb have ceased to be used in connection with the development of modern hops processing methods. In the 1980s, there even has been a tendency to their demolition (see Chapter 2.b in the Nomination documentation, page 131).

In 1997, at the occasion of the World Hops Congress in the Czech Republic, the first already unused hops store was adapted to a Hops Museum. That was an important and positive example. Thanks to civic initiatives and the understanding of the then newly elected town administration as well as the interest of the Ministry of Culture, the first project for Hops and Beer Temple was drafted between 2000 and 2001 which represented a pilot project for the restoration and use of several other hopsprocessing structures near the Prokop Velký Square. After carefully examining potential impacts on the surrounding area, this adaptation project of historical building, with the possibility of adding the present tower, was approved by the Žatec Municipal Authority Department of Development under Ref. No. PRM / 1658/03 of 3 December 2003, acting as the state administration body in charge of the state monument care.

The building permit was issued in 2001 ‐ 2002, that is before the concept of "Žatec –The Town of Hops" was inscribed on the Tentative List. Already at this time, when potential OUV was formulated at national level in terms of attractions from a global perspective, the question of the tower’s "acceptability" (as planned and pre‐approved in previous proceedings as an acceptable designated project of the observation tower) became central to consultations. Because it was clear from the outset that the structure was not a commercial building, but a publicly accessible building designed to enhance interpretive services for residents and visitors interested in the specifics of Žatec, the already approved project was not reassessed again after inscription on the Tentative List, as it could have endangered the process of the entire visitors’ centre and repairs of all structures forming the approved scheme. After a five‐year effort, the project seeking renovation and conversion of several historic buildings, including the construction of the related observation tower (The Hops Lighthouse), was launched in 2008‐2011 with the support of the European Union's development funds. Within the project, three very valuable authentic hops related buildings, the adjoining square, the Capuchin monastery's garden have been restored and a new entrance building to the Hops Museum built (see chapter 2.a of Nomination documentation, pages 87‐90).

 

THE HOPS LIGHTHOUSE AS A LOOK‐OUT/OBSERVATION TOWER

The first idea to build an observation tower appeared already in connection with the construction of the Hops Museum in 1997 (see above), but at that time such effort was not feasible financially for the investor. The idea came to light again in 2001, when the Hops and Beer Temple project was being prepared. One of the main impulses reviving this idea was the real need to secure a new escape staircase from the refurbished 1950s hops warehouse on the Prokop Velký Square which was to be made accessible for visitors. The Huml&Vaníček architects studio, who already had experience with conversions of similar historic buildings, have come up with the idea of positioning the fire escape stairway outside the hops warehouse in order to avoid penetrating the floors structures with a new vertical escape route, and thus avoiding damage to the authenticity and identity of its interior. The architects had prepared models that inspired those involved to designing and decisive processes to raise the top of a such external escape staircase so that visitors could not only run down but also use its upper deck to observe silhouettes of the chimneys and the roofs of the surrounding hops warehouses and other historic structures, and in effect what has been now the complete, currently nominated, property. The concept of connecting the higher fire escape staircase to the structure was then reconsidered in favour of a separate escape structure, which would be more detached from the original building in order to maintain the appearance and authenticity of the original building; it was finally decided that it would be better to build a real "escape tower" separate from but connected with the original building by exit doors located on the external facade. To guarantee that the new "tower" fits into the urban panorama, the authorities have determined the limits of the planned vertical building, the limits of its layout and the total height that would not exceed the heads of the preserved industrial chimneys. Verification process for the final tower’s proportions eventually allowed integration of a staircase with an internal lift into the tower allowing also disabled visitors to reach its top and enjoy the view.

It is a complex task in general to introduce a new architectural concept into historic settings while preserving the original atmosphere of the site. All consulted and assessed proposals led to many debates. The Hops Lighthouse Tower was intended to supplement the town's panorama and partly replace the so‐called New Tower formerly nearby, which was demolished at the end of the 19thcentury. It was important that the new look‐out tower only contributes to the panorama of the Prague Suburb, made up of historic chimneys, but not become its unwanted dominant. The final new element was therefore accepted only after a long and careful consideration.

The Lighthouse tower’s designers, investors and conservationists in the initial studies and models had been looking for the ideal proportions and suitable materials. Respecting the pre‐defined limits on its mass and height was examined repeatedly prior the building permit was given, including relations to the surrounding area and city‐wide views. Computer models focusing on cladding tested various solutions: even corroded metal sheeting, wood and glass were examined. In the end, the architects together with conservation authorities opted for a semi‐transparent casing made from metal grates. The models already indicated that such structure would be partially transparent from a distance, but remaining visually compact to those observing the structure from closer perspective.

Žatec – the socalled New Tower (demolished in the 19th century) had served as an inspiration for the Hops Tower (detail from the1611 Willenberg engraving),

 

The Hops Lighthouse at the southern perimeter of the nominated property, the Prague Suburb as seen from the central parts of the town among the other dominating features, mainly the historic chimneys of the former sulphur chambers . Photo shows its structure formed with the internal lift tube and semitransparent perimeter structure parts where the staircase enabling views of the property from various leves is included.

 

The spatial model has also shown that the diversely oriented porous metal grates will result in a mosaic‐like and in fact a refined effect of the facade. This effect becomes the most prominent in the sunshine and under artificial lighting. The Hops Lighthouse´s appearance thus varies depending on the moment and position of seeing it: its “semi‐transparency” and “massive impression” thus vary with time and space, depending on the momentary illumination and the place of the observer. The grates’ transparency and their composition provide a different degree of translucency in different lighting and in side views.

 

THE HOPS LIGHTHOUSE AS A SYMBOL OF THE HOPS HERITAGE RESCUE

Above the top observation platform of the Hops Lighthouse, there are seven steel galvanized bars, which symbolize erected poles in the hop fields that support the wire structure on which the hop plants (hop bines) grow (see chapter 2.b of Nomination documentation, page 106). The bars as a symbol directly relate to the logo of the whole Hops and Beer Temple project.

There are also seven strong headlamps hidden between the bars at the top of the Hops Lighthouse, whose beams optically extend the bars’ length at night. This festive illumination is switched on only at important occasions, for example during major cultural events in the town, and helps in guiding visitors directly to the hops‐related landmarks. Perhaps that is why the town’s citizens began calling the tower the Hops Lighthouse short after its opening. The Hops Lighthouse became a natural symbol for the public of the transformation and regeneration of this formerly neglected industrial area, which only a few years ago faced economic decline and was endangered with demolition as a whole. Many social, school and cultural events take place in the neighbourhood of the Hops Lighthouse during the year [1]. Popularity of the structure is also evidenced by the “Monument resurrected from the ashes” prize awarded by the CzechTourism Agency in 2014, based on voting of tourists and citizens of the Czech Republic [2].

 

 

   

 

  • Front view of the metal facade (transparency) – a detail of the external metallic fasade formed with the dense grating. The semitransparent perimeter structure of grating has been aplied in mutually reversed structural fields so as the whole facade does not form large homogenous surface.
  • A view of the Tower from lowhorizon close perspective (mosaiclike effect and variability)
  • A detail of the Hops Lighthouse structure staircase inserted in its semitransparent perimeter structure
  • Light beams on the top at festive illumination

 

 

The Hops Lighthouse – light metallic bridge connecting the lookout tower to the original warehouse.

 

A staircase surrounding the tower on its perimeter, complemented by binoculars and observation apertures in the grating aimed at important sites around, the structure completes the visitor’s viewing experience. The semi‐transparent coat of the structure allows visitors to observe the industrial buildings of the Prague Suburb from several height levels.

 

 

  • Detail s of the external metallic fasade of the Hops Lighthouse tower formed with the dense grating. The semitransparent perimeter grating enables detailed views of the property and taking photos thanks to the holes safe enough for all visitors.
  • A view through the cladding at the eastern part of the Prague Suburb (showing binoculars and inscriptions in detail).

 

Inside the Hops Lighthouse there is a lift that can accommodate up to 12 people. A part of its glass comprises a projection area presenting the nominated property in 3D animation featuring a simulated flight in a hot‐air balloon. When ascending with the elevator visitors are provided with basic information about the history of the city.

 

THE HOPS TOWER AS A CONTEMPORARY SYMBOL

For many reasons mentioned above, the modern Hops Lighthouse should not be seen as a negative example of a high‐rise structure (residential or administrative) built within historical setting. The entire preparatory process was transparent and consulted with the town's leadership as well as competent heritage conservation authorities. At the dawn of the 21st century, the local design studio in agreement with town's inhabitants created a modern form of a tower, which, in the opinion of a number of partners and visitors, was satisfactorily integrated into the town’s urban structure and its panorama using contemporary forms of expression and technological potential. Of course, the original function of any observation tower remains unchanged for centuries: it is an observation point, a landmark and a symbol and should be visible so as to provide looking out opportunities. Only the "classic" clock face, which has been a predominant feature of historical towers, is here replaced by a lighting display. As the Hops Lighthouse does not reach higher than the historic chimneys' it is not perceived as their competitor, but as a symbol referring to these very chimneys.

 

 

 

Cultural seasonal events with people gathering at the small square with the Hop Museum, Visitor Centre and the Hop Lighthouse.

 

ARCHITECTURAL PRIZES

The authors of the design and project are HUML & VANÍČEK, a studio for architecture and design of buildings [3], which has been operating in the city since 1991. This studio has an extensive experience with conversions of the local hops related structures. The location and the actual architectural design of the Hops Lighthouse were presented at specialized seminars and in several professional architectural journals and publications.

The Hops Lighthouse was awarded the Grand Prix Certificate of Merit and the National Prize for Architecture in 2011. We are not aware of any cases of criticism. It has not been used as a precedent for pursuing development of high‐rise structures in protected historic settings so far. The Heritage Protection Law and regulations formulated in the Žatec Urban Plan give the authorities sufficient support to prevent any other high‐rise structures being built on the nominated property.

The most important award [2] was bestowed upon the Hops Tower by the Old Prague Club (Klub za starou Prahu). This well respected non‐profit organization, associating leading conservationists, architects, art theorists and historians, has been an uncompromising critic of negative interventions into historical environment, including strong criticism of high‐rise buildings impacts in historic cities. Since 1900, The Club has actively defended the Prague architectural and urban qualities againstnumerous and various development plans interfering with its unrepeatable charm, appearance and atmosphere. Since 2003, the Club has been organizing a competition for high‐quality new developments in historic settings and has looked for examples of good practice also outside of Prague. The Hops Lighthouse was chosen by the Club as a good example of a modern but proportionate vertical structure that had been sensitively and thoughtfully integrated into the historic town enjoying heritage protection status. The results of the competition over the last several years are available on the Club’s website at http://www.zastarouprahu.cz/cena‐kzsp ("Club Awards" in the left menu)