Archirun to spotlight 100th anniversary of Czech architect Karel Prager’s birth

The Centre for Metropolitan Planning (CAMP) in Prague is hosting their first annual Archirun, an event spotlighting the iconic architectural work of Karel Prager who was born 100 years ago. The run will take joggers on a tour across the city, where they will stop at the buildings Prager designed to learn about their history, which at times is seen as controversial. I spoke with Štěpán Bärtl, head of CAMP, about what’s in store for Saturday, and why we should remember the work of Prager.

Štěpán Bärtl | Photo: Tomáš Vodňanský,  Czech Radio

“Prager is one of the most famous architects of the 20th century. The reason why CAMP is remembering him and pushing this topic is because CAMP itself is housed in one of his lesser famous buildings called the Prager’s Cubes. We not only wanted to remember that, but also the other important buildings within the centre of Prague, and combine it with running. We came up with this idea to do a run through all the famous buildings by Karel Prager.”

What buildings are runners going to be stopping at, and how is it going to work?

“The start of the run is here at CAMP and there are five stops. The first one is a very technical building, a boiler room for a hospital here in the neighbourhood. It’s right next to a frequented road leading through the city, the Magistrála. There are thousands of cars that come through here every day, but not a lot of people know that it’s a building by Karel Prager. Then they will continue to the former communist parliament building, which is now the new building of the National Museum, they will run through what used to be the lower chamber of the Parliament. Then they will continue to the new building of the National Theatre and run through the stage and behind the scenes where actors get dressed. They will finish off at a bank near Smíchov, another brutalist building, and then after that they will come back to CAMP. It’s about 7km, you run through all the buildings and see all these behind the scenes things, and it’s going to be really cool.”

Photo: CAMP

Why is it important to remember Karel Prager?

“I think this type of architecture is either loved or hated, and Prager is kind of a controversial architect – most of his work was done in the communist era, which makes it hard to separate his work from the period.

Karel Prager | Photo: National Gallery Prague

His work is often labelled as communist or authoritarian, but we think that we should separate these two things because he was an exceptional architect who built some of the greatest buildings of that era in Prague and Czechoslovakia. We want to remember them, because a lot of these buildings are in need of renovation and investment – they need a second life, and we think it’s our duty to push that and remember that.”

The Archirun is sold out for Saturday, but other events will be happening at CAMP throughout the day. Check their website for a list of programming.