Question of New Building of Czech National Library Still Opened
There is an urgent need for a new building of the Czech National Library as the old building of Klementinum is not sufficient any more. So there was organized a public competition for a new building design. Any architect interested could have participated. The jury was international, its chairman was a prominent architect Eva Jiricna, very important personas of contemporary architecture world were among its members, such as Zaha Hadid, Irene Wiese-von Ofen, John Eisler and others.
In the beginning of March 2007 Vlastimil Jezek, the director of the National Library, announced the winner: Futura System Studio of the famous Czech architect Jan Kaplicky, who currently lives in London. He won the competition with his extravagant project of the building of amorphous shapes in green and purple color. The design became known as “Blob” or “Chobotnice” (The Octopus). And it was supposed to be built at Letna, which is an important Prague location with nice view of Prague Castle.
After a few months, a number of questions was aroused. Some people did not like the design, the others did not want it to be placed at Letna, such close to the old Prague. And Czech architects came up with the claims, that the competition was manipulated, Kaplicky put the deposit rooms under the ground, which was not originally allowed, the chef of the jury – Czech architect Eva Jiricna, who also lives in the London, is a former partner of Jan Kaplicky and so on. The Czech president Vaclav Klaus said he was very strongly against the building, the director of the National Gallery said that it should not have been in Letna, but in another locality. Some others also came up later with ideas like the library should not be so close to the historic town reservation, among them Prague mayor Pavel Bem. And the prime minister Mirek Topolanek even added, that he was not sure, it the Czech Republic will have the money for the building at all.
By the time more and more people came into the discussion, architects, politicians as well as the public and the building of the National Library became one of the most discussed topics of the last year in the Czech Republic.
The architect Jan Kaplicky admitted that the library maybe does not need to be in Prague. And the towns of Brno and Edinburgh showed great interest in the building.
The question about the library should have been solved by the end of last year, but it is still opened now. The problem is to be solved in the cooperation of the architects, politicians, lawyers as well as conservationists. Jan Kaplicky even said that he might consider to put a charge to the international court if his design would not be accepted. And there is also not answered the question if there are money for this building at all. The cause looks now quite as a too long played tragicomedy with no end in a short time.