Matěj Štěpánek
Lake Milada, Czech Republic


Lake Milada can be found on the site of a former open pit mine used to excavate coal from the Earth´s surface between the years 1976 and 1997. During the excavation process villages of Hrbovice, Tuchomyšl and Vyklice had to make way for the coal mine which irreversebly changed the landscape of the area. Once the mining was stopped a recultivation and resocialization programme began. Recultivatian of the pit by filling it with water began in 2001 and took 9 years to complete. In 2015, the lake was opened to the public and the resocializing phase commenced.
There are no buildings near the new lake with the heating plant of the city Trmice being the nearest – around 750 m away.


The gallery is located between the Trmice heating plant and the East end of lake Milada. Inspired by the shape of a historical furnace the mass of the building sits on the slope surrounding the lake – placed there like a giant red sculpture. It´s concrete facade with only a few windows creates tension within the visitor, luring him to come inside. The interior is divided into two main parts. One houses a café and a vertically deployed gallery made to host various art exhibitions and events. The other part of the building (much larger in volume) showcases a wheel from one of the bucket-wheel excavators used to create the mine pit before it was filled with water. As the onlooker lifts his head, the sky above the wheel opens up and fills the room with unexpected lightness, contrasting the weight of the wheel itself. The wheel, with it´s immense size, suppresses the spectator, making him feel insignificant in the passing of time that turns ordinary objects into historical monuments connecting the past with the present and the future.



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