The Czech Republic boasts perhaps one of the strangest associations around, a group dedicated to climbing industrial chimneys in their spare time. And the more than 30 year old organisation, which started with a small group of teenagers in the Communist era climbing a heat plant chimney at night in the suburbs of Prague is now going from strength to strength. It is though, getting more difficult to find new chimneys to climb.
The Ministry of Culture has for the first time come out against plans to demolish a building on the corner of Wenceslas Square and Opletalová St. in central Prague. Czech Television reported that it had issued a binding opinion that knocking down the building, which dates from 1880, would be unacceptable from the perspective of monument preservation. The ministry made the move as part of an appeal process launched by preservationists against a decision to allow its demolition taken by City Hall in 2010.
After years of speculation regarding its future, the famous Werich Villa on Prague’s Kampa, once the home of the famous Czech actor Jan Werich, is set to get a new tenant. The Prague authorities have just decided to rent the historical building to the Jan and Meda Mládek Foundation, which will turn it into the Voskovec and Werich Arts and Social Centre in honour of the great Czech acting duo.
Silent Lab is the name of an ambitious Czech installation featuring this year at Expo 2015 in Milan, which begins later this spring. The installation, which brought together students at the technical university in Prague (ČVUT) students of architecture and the company Full Capacity, recreates the experience of the Czech forest, combining Nature and hi-tech.
Homage will be paid Wednesday to Czech architect Jan Kaplický on the sixth anniversary of his death. The association Jan Kaplický Dnes, which was formed in 2012, is holding a series of discussions about the world famous architect and the state of Czech architecture and urban planning today at Prague’s Oko cinema. Kaplický emigrated to Britain where he made a name for himself with his daring designs. But his attempts to realize his work in his homeland met opposition from architectural conservatives.
Prague Castle, which is said to be the largest ancient castle in the world, covering an area of nearly 70,000 square metres, is set to undergo some significant restoration work this year. The reconstruction, which concerns for instance the Old Royal Palace and Saint Vitus Cathedral, is expected to cost some 290 million crowns. I spoke to František Kadlec of the Prague Castle Administration, who says the restoration of the castle buildings is a never-ending process:
The Czech government has added 25 historic buildings, areas and objects to the country’s list of cultural heritage sites, bringing it to a total of 296. Among the newly listed venues is a dam with a water plant in Liberec and a historical fire station in Mikulov, built at the start of the 20th century. The spokesperson for the National Heritage Institute Jana Tichá told the Czech News Agency that modern architecture was increasingly becoming the focus of historic preservation.
More than one third of Czechs still live in panelaks, the communist-era prefabricated houses, which were built across the country from the 1950s to the 1980s. Nowadays, many of them are in urgent need of repair. A conference called Housing Estate, What’s Next, was recently held at the Faculty of Architecture in Prague to address the future of these housing estates. Michal Kohout is one of the architects behind the project:
If you think you know pretty much everything there is to see in Prague, you should definitely visit the website Praha neznámá or Prague Unknown. As the title suggests, it focuses on the lesser known historical, architectural and natural sights in the Czech capital, such as the first functionalist housing estate, a marshland situated just fifteen minutes from the city centre or an artificial lake where President Masaryk used to swim. I spoke to Praha neznámá’s founder Petr Ryska and started by asking him how he got the idea to create it in the first