For the fifth time, Prague will host the Open House Prague festival, which will open the gates of 80 buildings and premises that are usually not publicly accessible. During the weekend of May 18–19, 2019, people will be able to see architecturally valuable spaces of historic palaces and representative villas, feast their eyes on office spaces designed in a modern style, or enjoy unforgettable views over the city offered by the rooftops of high buildings, all for free. The aim of the festival is to give the lay public some insight into the different historical eras of Prague’s architecture. “Exploring buildings, their architecture, and stories, is the first step for us to evoke people’s interest in the city and its public space,” says Andrea Šenkyříková, director of the festival. The event is being held with the help of over 300 volunteers.
See the complete program: http://openhousepraha.cz/en/program-of-the-festival-2019/
5 years of the festival
In the past four years, the organizers of the Open House Prague festival have made 192 buildings accessible in total; these have recorded more than 185 000 visits. Each year, the festival attracts tens of thousands of visitors, who come not only from the capital but also from all over the Czech Republic and abroad. Open House is the world’s biggest architecture event.
Regular and new participating buildings
Aside from buildings that have participated in the past and have become very popular among visitors (e.g. Invalidovna, Hotel International, or the Central Telecommunication Building), 38 buildings will be opened for the very first time. Visitors will be able to look inside the representative spaces of the state-owned Hrzán Palace and the Liechtenstein Palace, as well as the Trauttmannsdorf Palace in Hradčany, which, up until the beginning of the 20th century, served as a prison, and is now in the final stage of reconstruction for purposes of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. The program also includes buildings designed by leading Czech architects – the Štenc House by Otakar Novotný in the Old Town, the House of Agricultural Education by Josef Gočár near Náměstí Míru (Peace Square), or the Laichter House by Jan Kotěra in Vinohrady. People can also visit the usually inaccessible spaces of some significant cultural premises – the medieval cellars in the House at the Stone Bell, the tower and the stables of the Troja Chateau, the roof and the technical space of the Trade Fair Palace of the Prague National Gallery, or the recently reconstructed technical monument of the Water Tower in Letná. This year, the program of the festival offers 39 cultural monuments.
Sections with a theme
The organizers of the festival have also prepared two sections with a theme. “In the context of the current global ecological crisis, we have decided to show how architecture can contribute to the debate over ecological sustainability,” says director of the festival, and continues: “In cooperation with the Czech Green Building Council, we have put together a selection of contemporary constructions which represent various ways of how sources can be economically used in civil engineering so that there is a minimal impact on the environment.” The section of green buildings includes for example Visionary, a new administration building in Holešovice, which has received the LEED Platinum international certification, the highest possible rating. Another featured building is DOCK IN TWO, a business and office construction located in the surroundings of the Vltava river’s blind branches in Libeň, in the place of a former dock. This six-story building covered with greenery was designed in such a way so that it would effectively use the assets of new materials and ecological technical solutions. “This year, the Czech Green Building Council celebrates 10 years since its foundation, and I am therefore very happy that Open House Prague pays attention to this very topic. We would like to show that buildings can be sustainable while being designed in accordance with the latest trends in architecture,” adds Simona Kalvoda, director of the Czech Green Building Council.
The other section consists of city-owned buildings that are currently waiting for their new purpose. “Empty houses in Prague are a big problem. And if the new political representatives want to do something about it, they need to put their own house in order first. It is necessary that all empty and decaying houses in the city’s ownership start being used,” says Petr Zeman, founder of the cooperating Empty Houses association and a current Prague politician. Visitors will also be able to see the largest stadium in the world – the Great Strahov Stadium. In 2014, after lengthy disputes, the stadium fell into the ownership of the city, which is now carrying out studies concerning the stadium’s next appearance. For the first time ever, the Renaissance Pages’ House of Lords of Martinique in Hradčany will be made accessible, and, due to popular demand, the organizers will also open the Desfours Palace in Florenc for the second time. An interesting fate is tied to the former city hall houses in the Old Town – some of them have already found their purpose (Prague Creative Center), some are still waiting for their opportunity. “My effort when maintaining city properties is to make the number of empty buildings as small as possible and make sure that most of these properties can serve to the needs of the citizens of Prague,” Jan Chabr, councilor for property maintenance and property shares, comments on the cooperation with the capital city of Prague.
More than 300 volunteers help with the festival’s organization. Andrea Šenkyříková says: “I am pleased that we contribute to the growth of volunteering culture. We connect people of different generations, professions, specialists with laymen. Throughout the year, we invite our volunteers to special tours of usually inaccessible buildings or spaces that cannot be made accessible for a large group of people during the festival.” The organizers accept applications for the volunteering program all year long.
More information at: http://openhousepraha.cz/en/become-one-of-our-volunteers/.