A four-star hotel opened at Prague’s landmark Dancing House building on Tuesday. Most guests at the city’s best-known building of the post-1989 era can enjoy views of Prague Castle from the two-storey part of the structure that has been converted into the hotel. One of the investors in the project, former soccer star Vladimír Šmicer, said the hotel might be expanded in a couple of years if the venture proves a success. The Dancing House was designed by Frank Gehry and local architect Vlado Milunic and was opened in 1996.
An auction of Prague’s historic Invalidovna complex with a starting price of more 637 million crowns has attracted no bidders. The site was built from 1731 to 1737 to care for war veterans. The tender on the sale was announced in June and drew protest from university academics who warned that the sale and redevelopment of the site could damage its historic value. Invalidovna was used in a number of key scenes in Miloš Forman’s 1984 masterpiece Amadeus.
Studio Znamění čtyr – Architects has won an architectural competition for the design of a new university research centre planned in Prague’s Albertov. The centre represents the largest university project of its kind in Prague in 100 years, Charles University’s rector Tomáš Zima confirmed. The university facility (which will reportedly cost some 2.5 billion crowns to build) is to be used for research in the areas of health, biotechnology and biodiversity and is to staff around 1,200 people. It is to begin operation in 2022. The runner-up in the competition was Atelier M1 Architects.
One of Prague’s most impressive architectural secrets, the massive baroque Invalidovna complex in the city’s Karlín district, is up for sale. Used as a backdrop to many films, the former home for war veterans constructed in the 18th century had found no takers from various state institutions and is now set to go under the hammer in spite of protests from well known architects and the local council.
The inhabitants of Prague are signing a petition against plans to build a 60-metre wheel on the bank of the Vltava River. The Prague 5 district authority has already approved the project and signed a contract with an investor, but the plans have met with opposition from conservationists, members of the public and Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová. Since Prague is on UNESCO’s cultural heritage list the wheel cannot be built without approval from conservationists. Over 600 people have signed the petition against the wheel so far.
Karlovy Vary’s Hotel Thermal was recently, as it regularly is, the backdrop for Central Europe’s biggest film festival. The complex was designed, outside and in, specifically for the film festival in the West Bohemian spa town. But the controversial 1970s architectural work of the husband and wife team of Vladimír Machonin and Věra Machoninová is showing its age with its owner, the state, blowing hot and cold about its future. That has prompted the granddaughter and grandson of the architects to step in.
The construction of new high-rise buildings should in future be restricted to 14 selected localities in Prague, according to a proposed long-term city planning strategy which should go into effect in 2020, Czech Television reported. Among the selected areas, proposed by the Institute for Planning and Development, are Chodov, Roztyly, Vysočany and Liben. The plan is still undergoing debate and has met with opposition from both councilors and the mayors of individual districts.
A new exhibition in Prague is set to display previously unseen pictures of St. Vitus Cathedral by the great Czech photographer Josef Sudek. While Sudek’s photos of the cathedral taken in the 1920s during construction are well-known, the works on show date from the Nazi occupation of the city. The exhibition In the Shadows of the Cathedral runs from Wednesday until August 30.
The London Czech Centre was instrumental in a recent project highlighting the industrial and cultural heritage of Ostrava in the east of the country. Entitled Stories from Ostrava – From Industry to Culture, it includes a short film called D.O.V by two students of architecture and an exhibition of photographs by photographer Viktor Kolář. Together, the present a unique glimpse for British audiences into another side of the Czech Republic – one beyond the medieval bridge and castle of the Czech capital.
The 2016 Architecture Grand Prix has gone to the studio Chmelík and Partners for the reconstruction of the White Tower in Hradec Králové. An international jury headed by architect Eva Jiřičná selected the project from 51 entries in the competition, run by the Society of Czech Architects. The jury said the reconstruction of the 16th century tower combined sensitive approach to its historical values with active use of the object. The 16th century tower belongs among the most significant historical sites in the city.
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