Architecture

Praha Stovezatá (The Hundred- Spired Prague)

Aug 12, 14:16 Filed under sightseeing

There’s quite an intriguing net project going on; it consists of panoramatic photographs of the city, taken from 100 Prague spires, especially church towers, using special widescreen lenses and computer editing to manage a 180 degree scope. The city chose the Panoramas company, which does similar deals around the Republic (see www.virtualtravel.cz), to provide the stills.
The page is available in English.

The English version, the Hundred- Spired Prague, welcomes you with a distorted still from a randomly chosen tower, one of the hundred contained of course. You may then click on the choice currently on display in the “Random location” bar, for example Troja Chateau, Prague 1 – Old town. If you do, you will be redirected to the picture, which I recommend to switch to full screen mode. The camera moves slowly from left to right unless you take control, either with help of the toolbar on the bottom of the display, or simply with your mouse, holding the left click button. Using simple controls, it allows you to observe the city underneath, able to turn left/right and up down and also to zoom in on any of the parts of the still. You always see the nearest tower(s), which you could switch to by clicking on an arrow symbol. In case you have a particular spot in mind, click on the “list” button.

The photographs are in high resolution, made in favorable weather and generally very watchable. It’s also an advantage that it is possible to have a look at the spires and towers themselves, since many of them are not accessible to public. It also loads quite easily. You only need a proper Flash software, which is available for free on the Internet.

The project cost around a million CZK and it seems to be money well spent. It works as a powerful ad for a tourist as well as pleasant entertainment for the residents. No matter how well you know the displayed spots, you probably haven’t seen them from this point of view.

By the way, as the authors of the project remind us on the title page, there are more than 100 towers in Prague. A few thousand, actually.
Page: http://stovezata.praha.eu

The Battle of the Blob Goes On

Apr 1, 15:03 Filed under architecture

Still no settlement in sight in the case of the amorphous creature- like library that should observe the city center from the Letná hill. Generally known as “the Blob”, Kaplický’s project provokes an ongoing row between the magistrates, the architects and considerable segments of the public.

There were two major setbacks. Some Czech architects decided not to accept the choice made by the international jury. And, more importantly, the Prague magistrates lost their enthusiasm into a pioneer project, unclear whether they do want to build any new library building in the end.

There would be little to complain about weren’t for the jury’s decision. The project itself is bizarre and its setting is controversial. But it was the magistrates who held the competition, they chose the form and they should respect the result. If you set an international jury to decide over a project and it chooses a winner, not to say that well, you don’t like the chosen project so let’s do it some other way. If the location is the problem, and there are probably more convenient locations in Prague, why did the magistrates chose it in the first place? The projects were all meant for the Letná plain, taking it into account. A decent architectonic project cannot be moved into a different environment.

The question is not whether you like the green- yellow- indigo slimy-looking octopus or not, this is a political match played on a very wrong field. It draws international attention; our republic is no longer separated from the Western trends and standards. If we ignore the jury’s decision it will be a serious breach of the international standards and it will be remembered. Other world architects will have second thoughts about competing in the CR, we will stay off the A list we wanted to go for.

The critics of the project, led by the Prague mayor Pavel Bém, are still using legal methods to hold it, there is a hope that they don’t just cancel the project in the end. The other major question is if the author, known for impulsive and rather sensitive behavior, will have the patience to stay till the end. His withdrawal of the project would be an enormous embarrassment for the city.

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