A flower market on a giant paddle boat, a floating cycling path along the Vltava River or a special high-heels lane running across the cobbled centre of Prague – these are just a few projects created within the Urban Interventions initiative, which is currently on display in Prague’s Dox gallery. The organizers have asked architects to find ways of livening up what they see as problematic public spaces in the capital.
A legacy of the communists’ fascination with the pre-fabricated building method, paneláky or tower block buildings to this day can be found across the Czech Republic, often in prominent and elevated places, towering over cities and towns. After all, they were considered the height of architectural and technological progress during communism.
Prague Zoo has begun repair work on Cubist wooden buildings designed by the great inter-war architect Josef Gočár. The buildings were damaged by severe flooding which hit the Czech capital in 2002. The repair work is being carried out in a higher part of the zoo complex. Once it has been completed the timber structures will house a restaurant, a museum, a gallery and a lecture hall. Gočár is regarded as one of the founders of modern architecture in Czechoslovakia. His other works include Prague’s House of the Black Madonna and the Church of St. Wenceslas in the city’s Vršovice district.
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.
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