London Czech Embassy celebrates reopening with massive event

Photo: Ian Willoughby

The Czech Embassy in London will on Friday evening celebrate its reopening after a two-year renovation project. The large-scale event will see performances by singer Lenny and artists František Skála and Petr Nikl, a light show provided by Prague’s Signal festival and drinks from the world-renowned bar owner Pavel Tvaroh. Ahead of the celebration, I caught up with Ambassador Libor Sečka at his newly remodeled office.

Ambassador Libor Sečka in his office,  photo: Ian Willoughby
“We will provide a better service for Czech citizens. We will put in one building, in one space, the Embassy and four governmental agencies: Czech Trade, CzechInvest, Czech Tourism and the Czech Centres.

“That gives us perhaps even more opportunities for the better coordination of our plans and activities.

“I am also happy that we are giving back the building of the Embassy, which is extraordinary, to the London context.

“The building has been highly regarded here. It’s beloved.

“And, with a renewed face, it’s something that is also appreciated by the people of London.”

How big was the renovation project? What state was this building in two or three years ago?

“We had arrived at a point where this building was 50 years old. And it’s normal with every building that, after 50 years, you have to come to a renovation.

“It was necessary to change a lot of the internal infrastructure: a lot of pipes, electricity, gas, everything. We also renovated the furniture.

“But all the time we tried to maintain the original spirit. It’s very important to say this, that the building has changed and hasn’t changed [laughs].

Czech Embassy in London | Photo: Ian Willoughby,  Radio Prague International
“It’s new but also corresponds very much to the original spirit that the architects put into the building.

“There has been a big debate sometimes about the cost. It’s no secret that the renovation cost CZK 119 million crowns, which I think corresponds to the size and character of the renovation.”

What’s going to happen here on Friday evening?

“We’re excited about it. We are preparing the grand reopening of the Embassy and the idea of it is to show that the renewed Czech Embassy is here again.

“And we would like to do it in a way that everybody will notice.

“There will be a lot of lights, a lot of music, a lot of special performances by extraordinary Czech artists and singers.

“We will have good Czech food and special Czech drinks.

“We are very much looking forward to it. I think there will be about 500 guests.

“So it will be a really, really great social and cultural event in London, and this was our aim.”