A boiler room that looks like a pyramid, a bunker for money in Smíchov, a facade of glass televisions, or a levitating house. Participants in the first-ever Archirun architecture competition had the opportunity to peek behind the scenes of five buildings designed by visionary architect Karel Prager. They could, for example, step onto the stage of Nová scéna or walk around the Congress Hall of the Federal Assembly, where the Parliament used to meet during the previous regime. The Centre for Architecture and Metropolitan Planning (CAMP) offered thematic guided tours, workshops or discussions, and, on this occasion, visitors could see the exhibition by Vladimír 518 and the audiovisual projection SPAM: Karel Gott Prager.
Architect Karel Prager, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year, was not afraid to push the boundaries and invent new ways of building. He was creating, building, and changing the world around him. He came up with innovative solutions and utopian visions. Today, some see him as an architect of the past regime and find him somewhat controversial, while others admire his buildings immensely. Either way, he was undeniably a master of his craft, and his projects encouraged innovation and progress in the field.
"We are happy that thanks to Archirun, we have managed to connect runners and architectural enthusiasts and present buildings in a novel way. During the day, visitors had the opportunity to take a guided tour of the Prager Cube site, which has served its original purpose as a residence for architects and urban planners since its construction in the 1970s. I believe that the planned reconstruction of our building can be a model for other buildings from the second half of the 20th century,"
A peek behind the scenes of iconic buildings
Thanks to the race, the premises of several of Prager's projects were made accessible. The first stop was the Central Boiler House of the General University Hospital, completed in 1993 as the only artifact from the originally planned extension of the hospital. However, it still provides heat to this day. Then, the participants toured the former Federal Assembly Building, which Prager built over the landmarked Exchange Building, therefore ensuring its preservation. He used steel beams, the type of which were usually used to build bridges.
They continued on to the New Stage of the National Theatre (Nová scéna). Here again, Prager used a special construction system to suspend a marble-like rock cladding from the building. He then covered it with glass moldings that not only reflect the sky but even serve as a sound barrier so that the audience can enjoy an undisturbed theater experience. Finally, the runners stopped at the Komerční banka building in Smíchov, built in the 1990s, which was the only project, of the many that made up the grand vision for rebuilding the area, that was realized.
Due to high interest, part of the program will return in September
CAMP and the IPR Prague building served as the start and finish of the race and the core of the entire program. The buildings from Prager's period were commemorated by the exhibition Architecture 58-89, prepared in cooperation with Vladimír 518. Visitors could see it for the first time last year, and now it has returned to the 25-meter-long wall of CAMP on the occasion of the birth of the famous Czech architect.
Participants were also able to discuss the project with the project designer Miloslav Pavlík, architectural theorist Radomíra Sedláková and architect Ben Markel. Children could try blueprinting or spray painting with motifs of Prager's buildings. The evening ended with a special audiovisual projection SPAM: Karel Gott Prager by Vladimír 518, David Vrbík and Ondřej Anděra from WWW Neurobeat, which uses elements from architect's drawing and floor plans.
"We honestly did not expect such a huge interest in Archirun and Prager's buildings. We have therefore decided to add more guided walks in the autumn. If you didn't manage to attend Archirun, you can join us in September for a tour of the Federal Assembly or the Central Boiler Room of the General University Hospital, for example," adds Štěpán Bärtl, head of CAMP.
CAMP is also planning an architectural competition for next year. It will take place on 24 August 2024; for more information, keep an eye on the website praha.camp.