The Transgas building is being demolished in the immediate vicinity of Czech Radio, the telephone exchange in Dejvice can only be seen in photos, as well as the original Omni in Nekázance, the Ještěd shopping center in Liberec or, for example, Hotel Praha. The stereotypical view, through which even high-quality buildings of the second half of the twentieth century are still perceived as a publication of bloated and unsightly relics of the past, seeks to break down new Concrete, Bras, Boletice with subtitle Prague on the wave of brutalism, just published by the Czech Technical University in Prague and whose authors are architects and architectural theorists Petr Vorlík and Klára Brůhová.
Although brutalist architecture is associated with a time of totalitarianism and lack of freedom, it is essentially a Western import. Opinions on what real brutalism actually is, however, differ, and the authors of the book point out that this term today refers to a wide range of expressions from different periods. This was also the reason why the main title was recommended for the materials with which the domestic architects of the second half of the twentieth century worked – concrete, brass pottery and boletic panels.
Due to the inadequacy of the socialist construction industry, for example, it was very difficult to see the exposed concrete that was typical of Western architecture. These were often replaced by ceramics or mosaics, on which visual artists collaborated.
In addition to individual chapters, the book is also conceived as a catalog of 77 buildings, which the authors supplemented with period photographs. “They show how the buildings change before our eyes. Often a small replacement of the facade, coverage with advertising or insulation is enough, and the features that made the building an excellent architecture will be erased. It doesn’t have to be just demolition, “they specify.
Prague context and plastic
The period of the second half of the twentieth century is associated, among other things, with very poor care for the historic cores of cities. Nevertheless, Klára Brůhová and Petr Vorlík explain that in the repairs of some selected buildings, our monument care belonged to the European top. The completion of the tower of the originally medieval and later rebuilt church in Emmaus near Charles Square, which was severely damaged by bombing at the end of World War II, was of exceptional quality. The towers of the Emmaus Church were provoked in the 1960s by reactions according to the architect František Maria Černý, and the quality of its new building set in a historical context in its time aroused positive responses even among conservationists. “Černý was able to follow the historical structure very instructively and sophisticated, but at the same time he was able to use contemporary materials and create a very modern opinion,” support Klára Brůhová.
Brutalist architecture was not afraid of big gestures, but very often it was instructed gestures.
An equally excellent example of the contextual architecture of the second half of the twentieth century, which is associated with brutalism, is the Intercontinental Hotel, located by the river at the very end of Pařížská Street, which is an integral part of the Old Town.
Metro as a holistic engineering-architectural-art work
An important part of the public space were also the metro stations, the first section of which opened to passengers in 1974. The individual stations were interesting as a holistic work, where architecture again greatly complemented the fine arts, which were far from always ideologically burdened. “The metro is part of the identity of the city center and Prague, so we found it important to include them in our book,” explains Petr Vorlík why the metro station got among the seventy-seven Prague buildings and compares the aesthetic level and sophistication of the original stations with Klára Brůhová. subway with those that originated on line A quite recently. Unfortunately, in the case of the original station, there is a gradual devastation, which obscures or completely removes works of art by leading artists, such as Václav Cigler on Republic Square and Peace Square or monumental glass sculpture on Národní třída by Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová.
On the show Reflection: Visual art! Klára Brůhová and Petr Vorlík and I only had to indicate how diverse the architecture associated with brutalism is. It is possible to get acquainted in more detail with this phenomenon, which is an integral part of our history, in the publication Concrete, Bras, Boletice, but especially in the metropolis itself. “The tradition of Prague is not just Baroque. The magic of Prague and Bohemia lies in diversity and we should respect, appreciate and celebrate it. This is the absolute basis and it is something that is related to the social atmosphere, “concludes Petr Vorlík.