This former Bohemian flour mill has been reinvented as a vibrant cultural center

Designed by famed Czech architect Josef Gočár, the newly-renovated Automatic Mills have become a new cultural venue in Eastern Bohemia. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 07.10.2023 14:15:00 (updated on 08.10.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

A site that was once used for milling flour is now thriving with art. The former Winternitz and Automatic Mills in Pardubice have been repurposed into the vibrant Gočár Gallery and other institutions, and this national cultural heritage site is now transforming into a bustling cultural district.

Located in the heart of Pardubice, next to the castle and the Green Gate, the early 20th-century industrial complex is a prominent architectural landmark originally designed by renowned Czech architect Josef Gočár.

As late as 2013, the complex was still being used to mill flour, but the premises were sold off when its previous operator ceased operations. A decade later, most of the complex has undergone extensive renovations thanks to collaborative efforts by the Pardubice Region, the city of Pardubice, and the Smetana Foundation for Automatic Mills.

As of this month, the complex has reopened with the Gočár Gallery of Modern Art, Pardubice's GAMPA Gallery, the Sféra educational center, and Silo, a cultural space featuring a rooftop observation deck.

The renovations aren't done. The next phase of the project, set to begin in 2024, will see the construction of industrial-style buildings for residential and gastronomic purposes, completing the transformation into a modern cultural quarter in western Pardubice.

"The Automatic Mills are the new cultural and social center of Eastern Bohemia," Martin Smetana from the Smetana Foundation told Czech News Agency. He and his wife Mariana bought the complex at an auction in 2016, and worked with Pardubice and the Pardubice region to redevelop the area.

"From the beginning, our goal was for the mills to come to life, to have all-day operation in them, and to turn them into a vibrant urban district."

The transformation of the complex preserves Gočár's unique architectural vision. Several alterations respected the original structures, but some compromises were necessary to adapt the space.

New passageways on multiple floors were created to resemble the high grain silos. Additionally, an impressive arch was added as the main entrance, echoing the famous Ishtar Gate, which gives the building its distinctive character. The newly refurbished spaces offer a welcoming environment for the gallery's exhibitions, with larger exhibition halls and enhanced visitor amenities.

The total investment in the renovated Automatic Mills is estimated at around CZK 900 million, of which CZK 430 million was funded by European subsidies.

While the interior spaces have been available for trial visits since June, the area was fully opened to the public from last weekend. Further renovations, including the extension of the main mill building from the 1950s, are also underway.

This transformation has reinvigorated the former milling site into a vibrant cultural hub, exemplifying a successful blend of preservation and modernization in the heart of Pardubice. For more information about the complex and upcoming exhibitions and events, visit the websites of the Automatic Mills and the Gočár Gallery.

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