Szymon Rozwałka

Anežka Švancarová, Militant poverty of mediokrity

* 1970, Poland, Czech Republic
study: Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Technical University of Szczecin
lives and works in Brno

Architect, pedagogue, in 2001, together with Paweł Wachnicki, he founded the C+HO_aR architectural studio in Szczecin.  Since 2012 he has owned a Brno office called RO_aR architects, he leads a studio at the Institute of Experimental Design at the Brno University of Technology.

Militant poverty of mediokrity, 2023/24


A country where colours are forbidden (Czech Beigescale1 in its militancy forbids all distinctive colours). A country where smells are forbidden (our streets and squares are sterile as in a laboratory). A country where sounds are forbidden (after 22 everyone sleeps!). A country where anything different is forbidden. As Milan Kundera wrote, a land of categorical removal of shit.


Mediocrity is militant. As commerce forbids everything different, or devours everything different, averaging all difference into a nostalgic form, as in the case of modernism and, in recent years, brutalism.

Mediocrity has no counterpart. Wieslawa Szymborska once wrote: I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.2 Chaos is the opposite of order. One weakens the other; where there is too much chaos, we long for order. Where there is too much order, we seek chaos.3 If we accept that there is both a hell of chaos and a hell of order, let us accept, here and now, the existence of a third hell. The hell of mediocrity.

Where chaos invites order, order invites chaos, mediocrity only generates more mediocrity. Wolf Prix, in his writings on architecture, inadvertently touches on mediocrity: Schöner Wohnen macht kalt”.4

Olomouc Prior, a partial segment of the history of the Olomouc conservation area and a chapter closed to locals, finds itself unexpectedly in the spotlight again. Student outputs from the Faculty of Architecture in Brno reopen the PRIOR case, it is a good study material for them to think about poverty – poverty of detail, poverty of concept, poverty of mediocrity in architecture. Thus, the students inevitably discuss the nature and meaning of conservation and anticipate its current (in)concepts.

In a precise and accurate analysis, the future architects shine a light on an island of the city where the system of protection repeatedly fails. The demolition of the original buildings and the thwarted archaeological research generate an endless revenge for these wrongs committed. The layering of errors results in a solution that is the essence of mediocrity for the students. If their conclusions could be generalized, it would not shed the best light on the results of conservation operating in valuable historic environments. Their projects are a serious experiment, testing the possibilities of interventions that would restore to the building and the site the fullness and authenticity of which they have been deprived.