Map creator: I wanted to show richness of modern architecture in Prague

The recently published Modern Prague Map brings together 50 of the most significant examples of 20th century architecture in the Czech capital. Featuring photos by Tomáš Souček, the coolly designed, bilingual map is the creation of Adam Štěch. I asked the architectural historian and writer how he’d made the selection.

“Prague has many amazing buildings which you could select.

“But my focus was to, let’s say, imprint to the map the history of Prague architecture through the iconic buildings – which of course I couldn’t leave out – and in between those iconic and, let’s say, famous buildings I also included some lesser-known, maybe more interesting examples of different periods of modern architecture.

“Basically, this selection of 50 buildings is kind of a chronology, a timeline, of modern architecture of the 20th century from Art Nouveau – we are kind of starting in the late Art Nouveau period – through Cubism, Art Deco, Functionalism and Modernism to Brutalism and Post-Modernism.

Adam Štěch | Photo: Ian Willoughby,  Radio Prague International

“So I wanted to show how versatile and how rich modern architecture in Prague is.”

You mentioned very many different architectural styles there. Do any of them dominate on the map?

“Yes, I think there are probably two most dominant – and probably best – periods of Czech architecture.

“It’s of course the 1920s and 1930s, the interwar period of Functionalism, in which Czechoslovakia was really one of the leaders in Europe.

“You can walk almost every street in Prague and you can find beautiful apartment buildings from the 1930s.

“You can find huge administrative buildings and so on.

“So Prague Functionalism is really a kind of golden age of modern architecture in Prague.

“Also, of course, there is this kind of opposite period and it is the socialist period, during communism.

“Actually some pretty nice buildings which were influenced by current tendencies were built.

Baba - Villa Janák | Photo: Tomáš Vodňanský,  Czech Radio

“You can mention all these Brutalist buildings like Hotel Intercontinental, or Kotva department store, or Prague Main Station, or other buildings, some of which unfortunately were demolished before I started to work on this map.”

Do you have a personal favourite among the 50 selections?

“Yes, one of the examples is not one building but a collection of buildings – it’s the modern housing estate called Baba.

“It was built in 1932 and there are around 30 beautiful villas and family houses designed as a kind of prime example of the modern type of living, in the 1930s, by prolific Czech architects like Ladislav Žák, Josef Gočár, Pavel Janák and many others.

“So I really like Baba.”