New CAMP exhibition draws attention to importance of “living better with nature”

Planeta Praha

A new exhibition titled ‘Planet Prague’ opens on Wednesday at the Centre for Architecture and Metropolitan Planning in Prague. The installation aims to tell the story of the city’s wildlife through an interactive lens, and was put together with the help of botany and biology experts. I spoke with CAMP’s Štěpán Bärtl to learn more about what visitors can expect.

Štěpán Bärtl | Photo: Tomáš Vodňanský,  Czech Radio

“Planet Prague is a brand new exhibition where we look at the city, architecture, and urbanism from the perspective of plants and animals. It’s a bit different than what we usually do, but it’s very relevant. How we co-exist with nature is more relevant now than ever. There’s so much to do at this exhibit, there’s a virtual reality, and interactive screens. One other thing that I’m really excited about is that we’ve started an open air experiment. Today, on the first day of spring, we’re going to start leaving our atrium open for the next six months and let nature run wild. We will see how it changes over the course of the exhibition, and it’s going to become its own little urban jungle.”

When I was reading about the exhibition I noticed there’s a lot of experts involved – scientists, biologists and so on. Can you tell me about the team behind the exhibition?

“The source material of the exhibition is a book and film called Planet Prague, and it was put together by a team of botanists, biologists, and entomologists who have spent their lives walking around Prague and monitoring urban nature. One of our main protagonists in the exhibition is Jan Albert Šturma. He spends a lot of time in shrubberies and different bushes over the weekend and monitors nature, so he was a big part of it.”

This seems like a very new concept for CAMP, usually the exhibitions are more focussed on buildings and infrastructure, but Planet Prague seems totally new?

“You’re totally right. When visitors come to Planet Prague, they won’t see apartment buildings and various kinds of architecture elements. Instead, they’ll see nature, and specifically city nature. We try to show what different animals live in Prague and how we treat nature. We propose some strategies in which we can combat climate change, but it’s very focussed on how we co-exist with nature.”

Living in Prague, we might not think too much about how our lives impact the local nature and ecosystems. Why is this an important topic worth addressing?

Planeta Praha | Photo: CAMP

“I think the fact that climate change is presently happening, and that we’re constantly experiencing one crisis after another is a given. We aren’t trying to give sample answers or solutions with this exhibit, because there are none. We are trying to show projects that are small steps that we can take that will make us live better with nature. There are projects that re-introduce meadows, plant trees, and work with the Vltava River – so there are many steps that the city can take.

“We also want to show the passion for nature in Prague. You might not think that the nature is as diverse as it actually is, but Prague is home to 280 types of birds, which is two-thirds of the bird population in the Czech Republic. You wouldn’t expect this, and I think this is really important to address and stress.”