In the week from 16 May, those interested could go for a walk from Hlávkov to the Libeň Bridge, which commemorated this year’s 140th anniversary of the birth of architect Pavel Janák. Another important personality that the organizers paid attention to was Jože Plečnik. “We wanted to commemorate 150 years since this important architect of Slovenian origin in a somewhat unconventional way, so together with the curator of Plečnik’s house in Ljubljana Ana Porok we prepared an exhibition of his unrealized works in Ljubljana right in front of the Church of the Sacred Heart and invited those interested to a lecture not only with Anna. Porok, but also with Professor Vladimír Šlapeta, “said Andrea Šenkyříková. The exhibition in front of the church can still be seen – until the end of May.
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The church itself, one of the most important sacral monuments in the Czech Republic, was open to visitors not only on weekends, but also as part of a concert evening. People listened to the music of Plečnik’s contemporaries performed by the Stamic Quartet.
The accompanying program of the festival also included other events, such as a debate on the future of sports venues and development plans in the Bubna area or a number of guided walks and tours.
The weekend opened the gates of hundreds of buildings to people, which cannot usually be reached. The greatest interest has traditionally been in festival novelties – a total of 26 buildings and spaces, which will be included in the program for the first time this year.
Queues since morning
Guided tours to the Palace of Electric Companies in Prague, today referred to as Bubenská 1, have been forming queues since the morning, and the same continued throughout the weekend. At the time of its creation, the largest office building in Prague and today a cultural monument is proud of several awards for quality reconstruction from the TaK Architects workshop.
“We tried to open this unique example of functionalist architecture from the first year of the festival, but this year the circumstances wished us and the owners let us not enter after the reconstruction completed last year. Architect Marek Tichý, under whose leadership the reconstruction took place, also performed one of the guided tours, which was a pleasant experience for visitors, “added Andrea Šenkyříková.
Visitors were also very interested in the representative premises of the club house of the Autoklub ČR and the EA Hotel Juliš on Wenceslas Square, where people could look into the area of the former restaurant or the terrace overlooking the Franciscan Garden. People could find breathtaking views from the roof of the Adria Palace from the same author Pavel Janák and from the roof of the former Hotel Gráf, today IP Pavlova 5.
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Among the new buildings, the UMPRUM Mikulandská Technology Center and the building of the Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics (CIIRK) of the Czech Technical University in Prague Dejvice, where there are not only offices, laboratories and teaching rooms, but also the Rector’s Office, were frequently visited.
For the first time, the ambassador’s residential building and the embassy headquarters – the Thun Palace in Malá Strana – were also included in the program. HE Ambassador Nick Archer accompanied visitors there both indoors and in the garden.
People could often enjoy the beautiful gardens at the Černín Palace in Hradčany, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Vlašský Hospital in Malá Strana or the Villa Lanna in Bubeneč.
This magnificent residence is the first Neo-Renaissance villa in the Czech lands and its author was most likely Vojtěch Ignác Ullmann. The organizers commemorate his round anniversary of 200 years since his birth.
“The villa attracts especially with its rich artistic decoration, not only the reliefs on the facade, but also the wall frescoes, which draw inspiration from ancient mythology,” said the guide and volunteer of Open House Prague Michal Šedivý.
The central boiler rooms also served the exhibition
The not very well-known brutalist building of the Central Boiler Room of the General Hospital by Karel Prager served as an exhibition space for contemporary art. People there often admired the works of art by contemporary authors from the KOOJON collection, which was installed directly inside the technical facilities of the gas boiler room. Technical enthusiasts could also learn interesting things during tours of the Štvanice hydroelectric power plant or the engine room of the Small Sports Hall at the Exhibition Grounds.
Some buildings are involved in the festival repeatedly and yet many visitors are interested. These are, in particular, Kramář’s Villa, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Hotel International Prague or the abandoned Desfour Palace, which is awaiting reconstruction in the coming years.
Only on Sunday it was possible to look into one of the few Cubist realizations in Prague – the Diamant apartment building by architect Emil Králíček. In the building with a distinctive Cubist façade with crystalline motifs, a number of original interior furnishings were restored during the reconstruction, and there was even a tour for visually impaired visitors.
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Other special tours in selected buildings were also prepared for visually impaired visitors, who could touch 3D models and haptic maps, or for families with children.
This year, people could look into the ancient underground, two anti-nuclear shelters, climb to the tops of the water towers in Michle and Letná, look at the stands of one of the world’s largest sports stadiums in Strahov, ride a track on the Třebešín velodrome, discover more about the bell tower tradition in the museum in Zbraslav or look into the engine room and wheelhouse of the historic steamer and the background of the fire station. In addition to the sacral buildings, visitors could also look at several falconry.
“On Friday afternoon, we were not sure whether we would be able to open all the announced facilities. Therefore, a big thank you goes to all volunteers, owners and building managers, thanks to whom we were able to ensure a smooth process and the whole event, “added the chief coordinator of volunteers Klára Veselá.
At the festival, it is primarily a community project, accompanying visitors and their coordination is best prepared this year by 400 volunteers without the right to a fee. As part of the volunteer program, volunteers can visit selected buildings throughout the year. The event, which opens the facilities to the public free of charge, would not have been possible without a number of partners and supporters, as well as a number of individual donors.
Open House Prague is part of the international network of Open House Worldwide festivals, which take place in 50 cities around the world. Its mission is to arouse public interest in architecture and the city.