The late architect Jan Kaplický has been in the news a lot recently. A new documentary was released last week about the collapse of his dream to finally see one of his designs realised in Prague: the futuristic yellow structure, nicknamed the Blob, was to have served as a new National Library building, but met opposition from politicians. Now an exhibition at the city’s Dox gallery – featuring plans, models and more – gives Czechs a chance to see some of the ultramodern designs Kaplický created at his world renowned Future Systems studio in the
The documentary Oko nad Prahou (The Eye Above Prague), which premiered in the city on Wednesday night, is about Jan Kaplický winning the contract to build a new National Library building in the Czech Republic’s first ever international architecture tender. However, his futuristic design – nicknamed the Blob – soon met opposition from the president and others and the plan was abandoned. Tragically, the Czech-born architect died last year on the day his wife gave birth to their first child. I spoke to Kaplický’s widow Eliška Kaplický Fuchsová, who
The renovation of Charles Bridge, one of Prague’s most significant landmarks, has been hampered by serious mistakes, some of which are irreversible. That’s the verdict of a regional authority on preservation of historical monuments which reviewed the progress of the renovation, and fined Prague City Hall over three million crowns.
The authorities in Prague are considering limiting ads on construction sites in the city’s historic centre. Councillors have just approved an amendment tightening the rules on advertising which will now be discussed by officials in the districts of the capital as well as other concerned bodies. They said they disapproved of the fact that huge ads sometimes simply cover up the poor state of buildings and hide the fact that repair work is not being carried out. The mayor of Prague 1, Filip Dvořák, said currently owners are allowed to place ads on building fronts for the period in which planning permission is valid, but some had abused the system.
Built at the end of the 1980s to host communist party gatherings, Prague’s Congress Centre was the pride of the communist leadership. However, within years of building it, the communists lost power and the centre never became fully functional. In 2000 it hosted a summit of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, but soon ran into debt and now finds itself on the verge of bankruptcy.
Last month spelt the end of a major six-year-project for Czech businessman Pavel Policar, the head of a company that helped build what is now the world’s tallest building, the Arab Emirates’ Burj Khalifa (until recently the Burj Dubai). At an incredible 828 metres, it is the world’s tallest free-standing manmade structure. And it was the family-owned company, Pega, based in Pardubice - founded by Pavel Policar’s father-in-law - that designed and built the world record-breaking construction elevators that helped make the tower a reality.
Many historical monuments in the Czech are under threat and action needs to be taken to save them. So says the state-funded National Monuments Institute, which has just launched a campaign to draw attention to the subject. But what kind of sites are actually in danger? That’s a question I put to the Institute’s Věra Kučová.
One of the most important documents concerning the future of Prague is the rather unimaginatively named “Development Plan”. Since 1999, the plan has been the key public document laying out the broad rules for what can be built where in the city and its suburbs. For investors, developers, property owners and Prague’s 57 local authorities, the plan outlines development and environmental priorities: in terms of land-use, new building and the transport infrastructure. Since the plan was first drawn up in the early days after the fall of communism,
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