All this week, events are taking place around the capital to celebrate contemporary Czech design, as part of Prague’s Designblok festival. On Tuesday night, ‘The Small House’ - an exhibition of modern, compact, living spaces - opened at Prague’s Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design. I went along to find out if less really was more, and meet the architects behind the project:
Prague may be famed for its fine old baroque architecture, but what about its newer structures? To mark International Architecture Week, a number of walking tours, open days and lectures have been organized to shine the spotlight on modern architecture in the Czech capital. Petr Soukup is one of the organizers of the festival, which is now in its third year.
The late Czech architect Jan Kaplický's buildings have been described as 'some of the most remarkable... that Britain has ever seen' and, by a disgruntled Prince Charles, as amongst the worst examples of 'the surrealist picnic' that is modern architecture. When Kaplický died at the beginning of 2009, British architecture lost one of its most creative, and provocative, figures. Long-time friend and head of London's Design Museum Deyan Sudjic has curated an exhibition called 'Remembering Jan Kaplický – Architect of the Future', which runs until November
A “hi-tech living room” for students is how the director of the National Technical Library described the institution’s new building, which was officially opened in Prague on Wednesday. The new library was completed after more than 14 years in the middle of a university campus in the Czech capital. But the modern National Technical Library has more to it that just state-of-the-art technology.
The company Modernista, which has a shop in the centre of Prague, deals in both original Czech furniture from the first half of the 20th century and replicas it has made under license. Perhaps most notably, Modernista sells and recreates Cubist pieces – including ceramics and clocks – which are unique to this part of the world. Owner Janek Jaros described the business to me when we spoke a few days ago.
The villa of the late Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš, co-founder of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918, was opened to the public on Thursday, on the 125th anniversary of his birth. Beneš was the second Czechoslovak president after Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, serving from 1935 until his resignation in October 1938, shortly after he signed the Munich agreement that dismembered the country. He was also president in 1945-48, and held the post in the exile Czechoslovak government in London in 1940-1945. It was the wish of Beneš' wife, Hana, who died in 1974, that the villa serve the public. Its reconstruction cost 20 million crowns.
The UK-based architect Eva Jiřičná is to take over a large-scale project the late Jan Kaplický designed for the city of České Budějovice. The two-billion crown Antonín Dvořák Concert and Congress Centre was still in the planning stages when Kaplický died suddenly at the beginning of this year. The České Budějovice project has been nicknamed the stingray. It bears some resemblance to a National Library building dubbed the blob that Jan Kaplický designed for Prague; after he won the Czech Republic’s first ever international architecture tender for the library building the project was scotched by the city’s authorities.
In today’s Spotlight we look at the history of Výstaviště - Prague’s Exhibition Grounds founded in the late 19th century but used to this day for fairs, exhibitions, concerts and other activities. Every year, Výstaviště, which is found at the edge of Bubeneč’s Stromovka Park and the Prague district of Holešovice, continually draws tens of thousands of visitors, both from the Czech Republic and from abroad. Its centerpiece is the 19th century Industrial Palace – an architectural gem that was partly destroyed by fire last year.
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