Prague Minos Guide

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20. - None. století

Development after 1989

Post-revolution architecture in Prague
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1989 is the year that ended the totalitarian "chronological vacuum" and so all of a sudden, new and so far unsuspected horizons opened up for Czech architecture. To many people, a symbol of the "liberation" of architecture from Communism is the playful silhouette of the "Tančící Dům" (Dancing House) designed by architects Vlado Milunič and Frank Gehry. In an unmistakable way, it masterly found its place within the space of Prague Rašín's embankment. Following the Czech Functionalism tradition, domestic architecture continued to practise the so-called "Czech Strictness" which concentrate on elaborate compositions while using simple shapes, quality materials and impressive details. In Prague, during the past twenty years, such "Architectural Minimalism" has successfully shown its ability to blend delicately and also at the same time very inventively into the historical architectural environment (for instance the annex of the Langhans House by Ladislav Lábus from 1996 to 2002, or the tunnel under the Powder Bridge at the Prague Castle by Josef Pleskot from 2001 to 2002) or even when the architecture of the building is entirely contemporary (the Euro Palace at Můstek by DaM Atelier from 2000 to 2002, and the Metropol Hotel at Národní Street by the Chalupa brothers starting in 2008). When looking at the overall picture in Prague, ones sees that the entrepreneurial and development boom of the past two decades has unfortunately caused the aforementioned high-quality structures to be rather in the minority. that means that the largest

and the best situated newly constructed buildings in Prague do not have high standards. Regrettably, their purely commercial and often below-average architecture has imposed itself arrogantly and damaged the historical environment beyond repair ( for instance the Prague City Centre near the St. Peter church in Na Poříčí Street, the administrative centre Myslbek in Na Příkopě Street, or the Charles Square Centre on Charles Square). The lack of rules regulating new developments, the evident unwillingness of the city hall to give its support to high quality buildings rather than purely commercial and quickly-profitable investment unfortunately led to a situation in which architectural opportunities have been squandered in favour of under average constructions whereas top designs would put this beautiful European city in the forefront once again. Within this context, we can see how symbolic the tragic fate of the original design for the new National Library in Letná by world-famous architect Jan Kaplický is. At first, the city supported the construction, just to refuse it immediately afterwards for reasons beyond understanding. This, in spite of the fact that the Kaplický's studio named Future Systems had presented the winning design through an international tender with a particularly strong competition. It is unfortunately plausible that the absurdity of the whole affair contributed to the architect's premature and sudden death. Currently, an association is fighting for the construction of the new National Library.


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