Participation will bring new life to the Breda department store

by Participation Factory

Together with stakeholders and inhabitants of Opava, we will be looking for a new purpose of the neglected Breda department store

The Breda department store is an extraordinary example of the first half of the 20th century’s architecture and a significant landmark of Opava, Czech Republic. However, the building, which until recently was in the hands of a private individual, has been dilapidated and empty for several years. The Breda Žije (Breda Lives) initiative now intends to change that.

Breda will immediately catch your attention. Its architect Leopold Bauer, who was inspired by the American architecture of the so-called Chicago school and the German expressionist architecture, managed to imprint the hallmark of Western cities in the topography of Opava. At the time, Breda was the largest department store in Czechoslovakia, and it attracted thousands of customers daily.

The department store maintained its popularity until the Velvet Revolution, when its dubious privatization took place. The building later became the property of several different investors, the last of whom also bought a neighboring brewery, which he planned to connect with the department store. However, these efforts eventually faded and the First Republic gem began to decay rapidly. The owner later went into insolvency, and Breda stayed neglected and without purpose.

credit: Michal Jandora

Second chance for Breda

The city of Opava was interested in buying and reconstructing the Breda department store, but the purchase was not approved by the city council for a long time. However, maintenance work was carried out to prevent the most acute negative effects on the building.

A spark of hope was ignited by the initiative “Let’s Light Up Breda Department Store in Opava”, led by Linda Bittová. She launched a campaign in 2021 to save Breda using the crowdfunding platform HitHit. The collection for the inevitable repairs, during which more than double the amount requested was collected, was only the beginning of a long-term goal to resurrect Breda. The campaign ended up by lighting up 1,450 light bulbs on the facade of the building, which symbolically recalled its glory and allowed the inhabitants of the city to experience this important monument literally in a brand new light.

At the end of 2021, the council finally agreed to buy the building, and by March 2022, the Statutory City of Opava became the owner of the Breda department store. Thanks to the long-term commitment of Bittová and artist Kurt Gebauer, the public is becoming more and more aware of the building and shows considerable interest in its rescue. Consequently, a proposal emerged about involving the public and stakeholders in deciding the fate of Breda through a participatory process that will open up the topic of adequate use of the dilapidated building. And we are very happy to be part of it! 


We help Breda find its new purpose

We were approached to help design and implement a complex participatory project that will allow key actors to co-create and share their own ideas of ​​what the building should be used for. In mid-June, the first participatory workshops will take place for regional entrepreneurs and experts in the field of architecture and construction. 

The general public will also have the opportunity to participate in the autumn through further meetings and workshops.

The aim of the project is to employ public participation in order to obtain ideas about how the premises of the department store shall be used so that it best fits the needs of the locals. The ideas and requirements of the citizens will then become the starting point for further management of the building, including a planned tender for an architectural competition.

We believe that in this way we can not only build trust between the city’s inhabitants and its city hall, organizations and institutions, but we can also achieve higher quality of life and help create a deeper relationship between people and the environment that surrounds them. At the same time, we hope that the case of Breda will serve as an inspiration for revitalizing other empty buildings scattered throughout the country that are still waiting to be rescued.


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