Our guest for One on One this week is Jakub Cigler, one half of the duo behind Cigler-Marani – an award-winning firm of architects whose elegant designs have helped them become one of the leaders in their field in this country. Cigler-Marani have been in the news of late because their design has been chosen by the city of Prague to revamp the Czech capital’s somewhat jaded main thoroughfare Wenceslas Square.
After many years of discussion and planning, extensive renovation work on New York’s Česká Národní Budova (Bohemian National Hall) is finally close to completion. Later this year, the imposing five-storey building on Manhattan’s Upper East Side will open its doors – and become home to many of the most important Czech institutions in the city. Ian Willoughby has been to see the Bohemian National Hall – I spoke to him on the line from New York and asked him first to tell us something about the history of the building.
It’s nearly midday and Prague’s Old Town Square is heaving with people taking photos of the astrological clock, tour groups which you can probably hear behind me, and pizzerias and Czech pubs selling lunchtime fare. But in the midst of all of this hubbub, there is one thing missing, and I’m joined here by Eva Skalická of Prague Town Council, who is here to tell me exactly what that thing is.
Just a few minutes’ walk from Prague Castle, the monumental Černín Palace stands out in Hradčany’s Loreto Square. Built in the 17th and 18th centuries as the residence of the Černín aristocratic family, the Baroque palace now houses the Foreign Ministry of the Czech Republic. But the history of the largest of Prague’s Baroque palaces has seen more than politics – it has witnessed ambition, corruption and even a mystery death.
This week marks exactly 100 years since the death of Josef Hlávka, an architect, builder and the biggest Czech philanthropists of all time. This year, it has been 104 years since Hlávka established a foundation in support of education, science and art. When he died, he bequeathed all his property to the foundation. It was probably the only case in Czech history that someone left his entire fortune to charity. Yet, nowadays, many people don’t even know who Josef Hlávka was.
Pavel Hnilička is a Prague-based architect and town planner who has authored one of the first books about urban sprawl in the Czech Republic called Sídelní kaše, roughly translatable as Urban or Residential Soup. Prague and other cities and towns in the country have seen unprecedented development in recent years, which the author says is largely indistinguishable from homogenous sprawl witnessed elsewhere in Europe or even North America, albeit on a far smaller scale. I met with the architect at his office in a leafy part of Prague recently to
It is exactly a year since the Czech-born London-based architect Jan Kaplický won an international competition for a new National Library building on Prague’s Letná Plain, not far from Prague Castle. Twelve months later, it still isn’t clear whether the futuristic gold-and-purple building, nicknamed “the Blob”, will ever be built in the Czech capital. The controversial design has stirred a heated debate among architects and politicians; among its biggest opponents are Prague Mayor Pavel Bém and the country’s president, Václav Klaus.
Czech-born London-based architect Jan Kaplický, the author of the winning design for a new National Library building in Prague, has given city officials one month to come to a decision on whether the new building can be constructed in Prague. Mr Kaplický said that if Prague City Hall fails to reach a solution, he will quit the project for good. Jan Kaplický’s winning design, popularly known as the Blob and the Octopus, had met with little appreciation from some Prague officials – including the mayor, Pavel Bém. They claimed it would disturb the city’s skyline. There has also been a petition of architects, monument preservationists and art historians in support of the project.
Prague’s Old Town Square is a location so full of historical sights that one almost doesn’t know where to look first. But at the moment, one of the landmarks, a monumental sculptural group on the north side of the square, is hidden from sight. The bronze memorial to the Czech church reformer Jan Hus is under scaffolding and covered by a tarpaulin because it is undergoing much needed renovation. The sculpture, unveiled in 1915, is the best-known work by the Czech sculptor Ladislav Saloun.
The Bush administration’s plans to build a radar base in the Czech Republic as part of the U.S. missile defence shield have stirred passions both at home and abroad. One of those who feel strongly about the idea is the Californian artist Kevin Kihn, who contacted Radio Prague with a rather unusual proposal. Instead of a radar facility, he suggested, why not build a Peace Dome in its place? We spoke to Kevin at his home in the town of Alameda, in the San Francisco Bay.
The anti-Babiš demonstration at Prague’s Letná: Questions and answers
Preservationists slam Jiřičná design for new Prague high rise development
PwC report: Prague increasingly attractive for real estate investors
Czech brewery rolls out first wastewater beer
Czech and Slovak Museum in Cedar Rapids forms bridge between the past with the future