Architecture Day highlights successful building transformations

The 11th annual Architecture Day has got underway in more than 100 cities and towns across Czechia and Slovakia. Despite its name, the festival will run for a whole week, offering free guided tours of famous buildings as well as lesser known architectural gems, but also lectures, concerts and family workshops.

I discussed the programme with one of the organizers, Václav Suchan, and first asked him about the choice of this year’s motto, which is “Don’t Demolish, Transform”:

“We have chosen this motto because we think it is important to open a discussion about sustainability in architecture and in construction business in general. It is important to talk about the impacts of architecture and building development on the environment.

“We also wanted to highlight some successful building reconstructions and transformations which could serve as an inspiration.”

So how will the motto be reflected in the programme?

“We have selected 20 examples of successful reconstructions and transformations. The visitors can choose from places in Prague as well as in other regions of Czechia and Slovakia.

Reconstructed house in Truhlářská 8 | Photo: Den Architektury/Kruh

“For example on Friday afternoon, people can visit the space located in an old house near the Náměstí Míru Square, called Truhlářská 8. There will also be a guided tour around the premises with the author of the reconstruction, Jan Karásek.

“The other place I would like to highlight is the Langhans Palace in the centre of Prague which was reconstructed 20 years ago by Ladislav Lábus, but it still look very contemporary.”

Langhans Palace | Photo: Den Architektury/Kruh

What are some of the biggest highlights of this year’s Architecture Day?

“I would say the Langhans Palace is definitely one of them. We were also happy to include Alena Šrámková’s work in our programme. People can visit for example three of the villas designed by the late architect. We also have a walk around the bridge in Přerov, which was one of her last projects.

The bridge in Přerov by Alena Šrámková | Photo: Den Architektury/Kruh

“I would also like to mention the sights on the island of Štvanice. People can see the small water power plant, the theatre Villa Štvanice or join in  the walk of architects Radek Kolařík and Petr Tej called ‘Changes of the Štvanice Island’.”

As every year, the festival marks important anniversaries of renowned architects, who left a mark on Czech architecture. You have already mentioned Alena Šrámková, but you will also remember the Slovene architect Jože Plečnik. Which of his buildings will be accessible to the public?

“This year marks 150 years since his birth and we are holding several walks at the Prague Castle. People can also visit the church on the Jiřího z Poděbrad Square and attend a concert featuring the Czech jazzman Emil Viklický, who composed a special piece in Plečnik’s honour. I think it will be a really charming event.”

The small water power plant on the island of Štvanice | Photo: Den Architektury/Kruh