The Friends of Czech Heritage is a British charity that raises funds to help repair and preserve historical buildings in the Czech Republic. It also organises work parties in which members travel here from the UK to take part in restoration projects in a very hands on-manner. Retired architect Peter Jamieson is the chairman of the Friends of Czech Heritage. When we met in London, he filled me in on his connections to the country to which he now devotes so much time and energy.
Alex Went is the man behind the Prague Vitruvius, a very impressive and useful website dedicated to the city’s architecture. Indeed, the Englishman, who works as head of communications at Prague College, probably knows a lot more about the Czech capital’s buildings and history than the vast majority of natives. In the first part of our tour of “his Prague”, Went gives me some fascinating into Moskevská St., the main drag in his Vršovice neighbourhood – beginning across the street from the “Rangherka” mansion.
After three years, the renovation of Prague’s National Theatre is complete. The project, which cost 135 million crowns, saw the complete restoration of the theatre’s façade, which in places had fallen into disrepair. Not only has the theatre been restored, many of its magnificent interiors are also now viewable in a special tour online.
A new exhibition currently on display at Prague’s Centre for Contemporary Art presents an experimental project by architecture students from Prague and Bratislava, who created a so-called parallel membrane city. Urbo Kune, which means a common city in Esperanto, was designed for an old quarry in Prague’s Zbraslav. The laid-out model of the utopian city can be seen at DOX until mid-January.
An appeals court has upheld an earlier ruling ordering the Czech National Library to pay compensation to an architecture studio which argued that a design by the late Jan Kaplický should not have won a tender to build a new building for the institution. According to the court, the National Library will have to pay HŠH architecti 1.6 million crowns (the difference in financial rewards for third and second place finishers) for choosing Mr Kaplický’s design even though it did not meet the requirements of the competition in 2007. The latter’s futuristic design, nicknamed “the Blob”, divided public opinion and was never built. Overall, the sum to be paid out, with interest and legal fees, totals almost 3 million crowns.
A group of architects is seeking damages of around 3 million crowns over the controversial competition for a new national library in Prague. The competition was eventually won by world renowned architect Jan Kaplický with a design dubbed ‘the Octopus’. Rival studio HŠH still maintain that Kaplický’s bid should have been disallowed. Their right to complain has already been upheld by a Prague court.
People in fifty Czech towns and cities can take part in a series of events entitled Days of Architecture which focus on city planning and interesting architectural buildings in the given locality. The Days of Architecture, organized by the civic association Kruh, aim to raise public awareness of decisions impacting people’s surroundings, insensitive reconstructions, co-existence of historic and modern architectural styles, public spaces and the revitalization of communist-era housing estates. The program includes lectures, forums, film screenings, and excursions in search of architecture and interesting exhibitions that are dedicated to new trends in architecture.
Moves to sell off one of Pardubíce’s most prized pieces of industrial heritage have created a stir with the municipal council under attack for not having stepped in earlier to safeguard its future. The rumpus has been caused by the decision of the Austrian owner of the Automatic Mills, an historic building designed by famed architect Josef Gočár, to sell the building for a target price of 25 million crowns. Pardubice city council had wanted to buy the site and to turn it into an arts and culture centre but attempts to do so broke down. The town will now have to see what the intentions of a new owner are.
Prague is no doubt one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, but how exactly will the city develop in the future? Should the new buildings respect the historical skyline? How many cars should be allowed to park in the city centre? And should Prague be allowed to sprawl outwards or make better use of the space in the centre? These are just some of the issues addressed by the new building regulations plan, which has recently became the subject of a political battle at Prague City Hall. In fact, the plan put together by a team of experts around former
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