Curator: New projects returning world-class architecture to CR

Visualisation of the new Brno main train station

Thursday sees the vernissage in Prague of Vision for the Future, an exhibition highlighting three of the country’s most important new architecture projects. Prague’s Savarin complex, a futuristic train station for Brno and a major concert hall for Ostrava have all been designed by foreign studios. I asked curator Adam Štěch, Why select these three particular projects?

“I chose three quite large projects which were designed by very famous international architects.

“Which is quite unique, because not so many foreign architects work in the Czech Republic.

“The second reason is that I wanted to show three projects which are planned to be built in the three main cities of the Czech Republic: Prague, Brno and Ostrava.

“Also every single one of these projects is different in typology and future purpose.

'Vision for the Future'

“While in Prague it is the Savarin complex, which is a multifunctional commercial complex [by Thomas Heatherwick Architects from the UK], in Brno it’s a new main railway station [by the Netherlands’ Benthem Crouwel Architects], which is a transportation building, and in Ostrava it’s a new philharmonic building [by Steven Holl Architects of the US], so it means it’s a cultural building.

“So each project shows architecture from a little bit different perspective.”

For you, which of these projects is the most exciting, and why?

“I think every single project is exciting, but probably my favourite is the one in Ostrava, which is for the Janáček Philharmonic.

“It’s designed by a very famous American architect; his name is Steven Holl.

“He is collaborating on this project with the Prague-based Architecture Acts studio.

“He designed the new philharmonic as a kind of organic structure which is attached to the former building, built in the 1950s.

“It’s a house of culture designed by the architect Jaroslav Fragner.

“And I like this kind of mix of the old structure and a new addition, which is kind of monumental but still the addition is quite sensitive to its location and to the original architecture.”

Savarin complex | Visualisation: Heatherwick Studio

How do these projects compare to other major projects we’ve seen in the Czech Republic, in Prague or elsewhere, in the last 30 years?

“These projects are quite important because in the last 30 years we did not see so many nice public buildings being built in the Czech Republic.

“I think Czech architecture is really good in terms of smaller-scale projects, but I really miss some new cultural institutional buildings, such as the philharmonic, or some transportation building built in a very modern way, like it should be in Brno.

“So I think they are quite exceptional, in this sense.”

But should we be concerned that Czech architectural studios in a sense weren’t good enough to get these projects?

Jánaček Philharmonic building in Ostrava | Photo: Steven Holl Architects

“No. I think no.

“Because there are also several other projects which are being built by Czech architects, and Czech architectural studios are really good.

“But I think we should be happy about the fact that we will have again some, let’s say, world-class international names in the Czech Republic, as we had in the 1930s, for example, with the Villa Tugendhat in Brno, by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

“Now we will have structures being built by really renowned, internationally famous architects.

“And I think this is something we missed in, let’s say, the last 20 years.”

Vision for the Future: Foreign Architects in Prague, Brno and Ostrava

Winternizova vila

Na Cihlářce 2092/10

Prague 5

Until February 22, 2022