With the start of the tourist season in April hundreds of castles and chateaus around the Czech Republic open their doors to visitors. In addition to their historical value these sites have become cultural hubs, providing a wonderful backdrop for the concerts, theatre performances, craft fairs and historical fencing shows that are regularly organized to attract visitors.
The Czech National Library has been ordered to pay compensation to an architecture studio that argued a design by the late Jan Kaplický should not have won a tender to build a new building for the institution. A court ordered that the National Library pay HŠH architecti CZK 2.9 million 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 opinion and in the end was never built. The National Library may appeal Tuesday’s verdict.
The Constitutional Court has ruled in favour of a communist-era exile who has been trying to get a house back in the Brno district of Kohoutovice for over two decades. The building was confiscated after Jiří Rábl emigrated illegally in 1981 and later sold to a Communist Party official. A Regional Court in Brno had previously ruled that the property should remain in the hands of its current owner, the Communist’s daughter. The Regional Court must now reconsider the matter.
The Czech Republic boasts perhaps one of the strangest associations around, a group dedicated to climbing industrial chimneys in their spare time. And the more than 30 year old organisation, which started with a small group of teenagers in the Communist era climbing a heat plant chimney at night in the suburbs of Prague is now going from strength to strength. It is though, getting more difficult to find new chimneys to climb.
The Ministry of Culture has for the first time come out against plans to demolish a building on the corner of Wenceslas Square and Opletalová St. in central Prague. Czech Television reported that it had issued a binding opinion that knocking down the building, which dates from 1880, would be unacceptable from the perspective of monument preservation. The ministry made the move as part of an appeal process launched by preservationists against a decision to allow its demolition taken by City Hall in 2010.
After years of speculation regarding its future, the famous Werich Villa on Prague’s Kampa, once the home of the famous Czech actor Jan Werich, is set to get a new tenant. The Prague authorities have just decided to rent the historical building to the Jan and Meda Mládek Foundation, which will turn it into the Voskovec and Werich Arts and Social Centre in honour of the great Czech acting duo.
Silent Lab is the name of an ambitious Czech installation featuring this year at Expo 2015 in Milan, which begins later this spring. The installation, which brought together students at the technical university in Prague (ČVUT) students of architecture and the company Full Capacity, recreates the experience of the Czech forest, combining Nature and hi-tech.
Homage will be paid Wednesday to Czech architect Jan Kaplický on the sixth anniversary of his death. The association Jan Kaplický Dnes, which was formed in 2012, is holding a series of discussions about the world famous architect and the state of Czech architecture and urban planning today at Prague’s Oko cinema. Kaplický emigrated to Britain where he made a name for himself with his daring designs. But his attempts to realize his work in his homeland met opposition from architectural conservatives.
Prague Castle, which is said to be the largest ancient castle in the world, covering an area of nearly 70,000 square metres, is set to undergo some significant restoration work this year. The reconstruction, which concerns for instance the Old Royal Palace and Saint Vitus Cathedral, is expected to cost some 290 million crowns. I spoke to František Kadlec of the Prague Castle Administration, who says the restoration of the castle buildings is a never-ending process: