Open House Prague festival pays tribute to Karel Prager

Many of Prague’s architectural gems will open to the public for free this weekend within the Open House Prague festival, which is now in its ninth year. Visitors can admire the interiors of more than 100 buildings as well as spaces that are usually inaccessible to the public, including the brutalist Hotel Intercontinental, which is currently under reconstruction.

I spoke to one of the festival organizers, Michaela Pánková, and I first asked her about the buildings that have been included in the project for the very first time:

“Some of them are historical palaces, some of them are industrial spaces or former industrial spaces and some of them are newly built. So there is a variety of buildings around Prague which people can see.

“I would like to invite visitors to see for example the Braník Brewery, which is now home to dance studios, or the newly built area called Bořislavka in Veleslavín, which offers beautiful views from its terraces.

“But there are also some very special buildings such as the boat house of the Czech Yacht Club or boat house of Tatran Praha in Podolí.”

Karel Prager | Photo: National Gallery Prague

This year’s program celebrates the birth anniversaries of three important Czech architects, including Karel Prager, one of the most important, and most controversial, Czech architects of the second half of the 20th century. Which of his buildings will people be able to see?

“We have decided to show a variety of Karel Prager’s designs. We start with the Komerční Banka building in Smíchov, which is a very atypical building. Then there is the new stage of the National Theatre, where people can have a peek into places that are usually not accessible to the public, such as the basement and technical facilities.

“There is also a very special building which is part of the General Teaching Hospital, the Boiler House.

“I also have to mention the Prager Cube, which is now the seat of the CAMP Institute and his project from the 1990s in Jinonice, which is partly a university area and partly a residential area.”

Komerční Banka building in Smíchov | Photo: Martin Suchánek,  Open House Praha

You will also highlight the work of Czech architect Věra Machoninová and Antonín Viktor Barvitius. Can you tell us a little bit more about them?

“Věra Machoninová is an important 20th century architect who worked together with her husband. In Prague she designed several buildings of her own and two of them are part of our programme.

“It is the administrative building of Teplotechna Praha, mainly the design of the façade and the DBK shopping centre, where we have some accompanying tours showing some of the original artistic pieces in the interior.

“And then there is Antonín Viktor Barvitius, who is a representative of neo-Renaissance style in the 19th century and one of his most famous designs in Prague was Gröbe Villa but also some of the pieces in the park itself, the Lanna Villa Lana and also the Church of Saint Wenceslas in Smíchov.”

Church of Saint Wenceslas in Smíchov | Photo: Tomáš Sysel,  Open House Praha

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