In prison, people “eat, sleep, work, study, play, swim, go to the doctor and visit their families. They also speak, negotiate, listen, learn, and express their opinions; they have relationships, hate and love. In prison, people watch, think, read and listen to music, they have doubts and they find inspiration, they are concerned and alarmed, excited, depressed, hopeful; they cry and they laugh,” as Roger Paez, author of Mas d’Enric prison in Tarragona (see pages 28–31) writes in his book Critical Prison Design. Prison is a microcosm, a miniature unto itself. It is an island or a ship at sea inhabited by society that has to develop its own rules due to its isolation… and yet it peculiarly mirrors the society “on the other side”. Prison is a heterotopia.» entire article
The reconstruction and finishing of a school in the village of 2 000 inhabitants, situated on the edge of Prague, is based on a contrast between the original building from 1850’s and the new extension. Both objects differ at first sight, both in form (gable vs. flat roof) as well as in façade material (regular plaster vs. brick slips cladding) and window morphology. The original building was restored to its initial archetypal form, emphasizing its historical importance and dominant role in local urbanism. The new building, connected by a neck on the spot of the existing staircase, uses the school plot and leaves an open space for a playground and garden.» entire article
“Anyone believing that exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.” Kenneth E. Boulding, economist
In the second week in May, demolition of one of the biggest industrial areas in Brno, Vlněna, began. The complex of generous multi-storey industrial halls and spectacular spaces will be flattened to allow the green meadow to see the growth of 80 thousand m2 of offices. Why isn’t it possible to squeeze this abstract amount of square metres and parking places into the wide-span reinforced concrete structures of old spinning mills, why is it necessary to replace them with new ones? The answers to these questions can’t be found in rational common sense thinking but in the logic of economic calculations, credit approvals, and stock exchange trading results. The paradox of today’s maximization of productivity and growth, that should prevent us from falling into a crisis, is that we don’t need the products any more, we need to maintain economic growth above all.» entire article
Professor Ivan Koleček, an architect, my former teacher, says that when he comes to a city and sees cranes, it means that construction is going on and architects are needed there. And yet many Czech architects complain that building a “normal” house in a city is unbelievably difficult, something like a battle with officials and a chase for documents. The current construction law setting is truly alarming and it is not only architects who agree about that (Pavel Hnilička, Jakub Filip Novák, Filip Tittl in the discussion To Build in a City led by Filip Landa) but also lawyers (Jiří Plos in A Few Comments on Amendments to the Construction Law and on Conditions for Construction in the City). And even though the statistical figures still show an outflow of inhabitants from cities, the mental settings of our society is slowly changing. People want their cities back, they want to live there, work there, and have fun. People don’t want to live in satellite towns outside cities, they don’t want to commute to work by car, be a taxi driver to their children, and shop in a supermarket once a week. After all, Brno, the seat of our office, proves this; earlier this year US server Numbeo.com listed our city in 46th place out of 143 in their Quality of Life Index and New York Times even put Brno at number 27 of 52 places to go to in 2016. The newly established Municipal Architect's Office and the mobility plan, currently in preparation, are great hopes for Brno.» entire article
About the phenomenon of a compact city, suburbanization, living in a city and measuring the quality of life; about building in a city, construction laws, and the endless case of Prague Construction Regulations; about politics as well as about how they live and which buildings in a city they consider to be of a high quality; all that we have discussed with three architects, urbanists, experts in city planning.» entire article
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