Czech architecture has a long and rich tradition, but in the last few years, it has also come in for a lot of criticism, as faceless shopping centres mushroom around the country. In order to improve the quality of contemporary Czech architectural design, the Czech Society of Architects organizes an annual competition. On Wednesday the international jury of the Grand Prix announced the winner.
The competition is open to architects from all countries, but the buildings themselves have to be in the Czech Republic. As one member of the jury Zdenek Lukes explains, every architect - or a group of architects - submits a panel with photos of his work and the Jury evaluates them.
"We have to see all these panels - this year about 150 - then we choose about 15 - 20 candidates for the Grand Prix and the other prizes in about seven categories like: "Reconstruction", "New Building", "Urbanism" or "Interior Design". Then it is necessary to go and see all these buildings in situ and then decide who the winner is."
This year the Grand Prix was awarded to a team of young architects from the city of Brno who renovated and extended a sport facility in Brno's Kravi Hora district.
"I think all the jury members including myself were enchanted by this beautiful example of a pure architecture. The site is excellent; it is right in the centre of the Brno city but on the top of the hill called Kravi Hora, with a nice view at the whole landscape of Brno. We also saw the interior and the background of the building; everything was excellently done. The transparent facades of the building are also very nice - it looks like if you were in the landscape. I also liked the connection with older parts of swimming pools which were built in the 1960's but now have been sensitively restored and connected with the new building."
"It was a surprise for me because it's been a long time since I was in Czechoslovakia (at that time). There has been a great rise in the quality of Czech architecture since then. I am pleased to see that the Czech architecture belongs to the best again."
If you happen to be in Prague you can see the architectural works in the competition at Prague's Modern Art Gallery in Holesovice. It will last till May 29th.