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20. století

Socialist Realism

Demonstration of the affiliation to the USSR
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The Communist took power in 1948 which uncompromisingly ended the individual development of Czech architecture, which had reached world recognition during the inter-war. Functionalism was labeled a dangerous western and cosmopolitan style. The architects who wanted to continue to work had to renounce Functionalism self-critically and publicly. The only permitted style was the so-called Sorela (abbreviation for Socialist Realism Architecture), which was based on the Soviet architecture of the Stalinist era and used pompous and cumbersome historicist forms. White elegant structures were replaced with menacing towers that should forever remind people of the Czechoslovak affiliation to Soviet Russia. From the point of view of urbanisation, the main aspects of Sorela was the wide street that could be used by a cheering working class to parade and a large assembly space that would be used to listen to party leaders speeches. The realization of such structures mostly meant the symbolic "subordination" of the town as the Communist architecture intentionally wanted to asphyxiate everything historical and thus every unacceptable ideology. Based on urban concepts from the beginning of the fifties,

Prague should have undergone similar transformation. In order to make space for a new assembly square in the Old Town, blocks of houses between the Klementinum and the Pařížská Street were to be demolished, one option proposed a tower next to the Rudolfinum, in place of today's Charles University. Prague fortunately didn´t suffer from such plans and the only Stalinist building built in Prague in the fifties (Hotel International in Dejvice) was shifted far beyond the horizon of the historical town thanks to pressure from Prague urbanists. The most visible construction was the monstrous Monument to Stalin in the axis of the Pařížská Street, built between 1952 and 1955 and subsequently torn down quietly in 1962. One of the few architectural masterpieces of that time is the Jalta Hotel on Wenceslas Square opened in 1958. Its author, architect Antonín Tenzer, was one of the youngest and most talented architects of the interwar era. With this construction, he managed to cultivate the Social Realist architectural forms so much that the facade seems closer to a genteel Western style Classicist architecture, for instance from the late French architect August Perret, than to Moscow style.


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