The transformation of the former industrial complex of Dolní Vítkovice in the North Moravian city of Ostrava is without doubt the most successful revitalisation of a former factory compound in the Czech Republic. The old ironworks and coke ovens have been transformed into a modern complex including a concert hall, several museums and cafes, as well as a climbing wall. The project involved some of the country’s top architects, led by Josef Pleskot.
A modern building ends the last row of houses at the bottom of Wenceslas Square. This is the ‘Euro Palace’ which neighbours two important functionalist buildings – the Astra Palace and the Bata department store. Originally a historical three story corner house stood on the spot, but it was demolished in the 1970s during the construction of the Prague metro.
The famous hotel and the 93-metres-tall television transmitter at the top of Ještěd Mountain is a unique architectural construction in the shape of a rotating hyperboloid. Standing at a height of 1012 metres above sea-level it is the dominant landmark in north Bohemia. Proof of Ještěd’s exceptional architectural design is the fact that its author architect Karel Hubáček won the prestigious August Perret Prize for it in 1969. In a 2,000 poll it was elected Building of the Century and five years later it was declared a national cultural monument.
The Žďákov Bridge, which runs across South Bohemia’s Orlík Dam, was the longest structure of its kind in the world when it went into operation in the mid-1960s. The audacious construction was inspired in part by the success enjoyed by Czechoslovak architecture and design at the 1958 World’s Fair and reflected a move away from Socialist Realism.
The so-called proletarian palaces from the early 1950s, looked grand from the outside, even if in fact they concealed rather small flats within. The municipality of Poruba became the site of largescale construction, in the Soviet socialist realist style, before it became a new part of the larger city of Ostrava in 1957.
An elegant building designed in the post-war functionalist style. Clean lines, strip windows without pillars, a tiled facade and the historical inscription Czechoslovak Radio in the original lettering. This building was the first in the country to be designed specifically for the needs of radio broadcasting. The team of architects led by Karel Tausenau had to meet numerous requirements, especially when it came to acoustics.
Industrialist Tomáš Baťa has forever changed the face of Zlín. He built workers’ districts as well as the country’s first skyscraper. Combining framework of reinforced concrete with red brick lining created one of the most impressive trends in modern architecture – low-cost, rational and functional, reminiscent of a perfectly functioning machine. Zlín became one of the most significant centres of interwar modern architecture in the Czech lands and the only consistently built functionalist town in Europe.
Along with the birth of independent Czechoslovakia, there was a movement to create a distinct national style of architecture. The Legiobanka building on Prague’s Na Poříčí high street, designed by Josef Gočár, became the prototype and determined the direction of so-called Rondocubism. It literally took the edge off of Cubism, softening and rounding its cubes and pyramids in the spirit of the Slavic tradition.