ERA21 #01/2017 Forms of Criticism

kniha editorial

Forms of Criticism

Ondřej Hojda

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kniha column

Filip Landa

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kniha completed project

A Piece of a Mosaic. Gym and Community Center in Líbeznice u Prahy »

Jakub Havlas, Jan Hájek, Pavel Joba / Atelier M1 architekti /; Barbora Zachovalová

A new multifunctional hall was opened in Líbeznice u Prahy in November, designed to serve for gym classes as well as leisure clubs, cultural and social events. The two-story building makes use of the difference in heights of the adjacent street and football field. This enables it to be sensitively incorporated in the surrounding development of mostly family houses, and allows for barrier-free access to both floors. The building has an oval ground plan and it is divided into three parts: the overtop sports hall in the middle and two lateral apsis, which provide space for additional functions. The main volume of the building is a wooden structure with a curtain façade system made of squared timber; the adjacent facility building is made of brick.

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Urbanity »

Martin Zeman

Shopping centers accompanied by endless car parks suck life out of urban cores, while managerial ghettos are growing on the outskirts, entrenched with bastions of logistic centers. The communist regime fell a quarter of a century ago and life in political oppression was replaced by freedom dictated by the market economy. Not only was our society transformed but our cities and our environment were, as well. Do we have to be ashamed of post-revolution architecture; for faults made as a result of inexperience and naivety in the interest of maximum profit? Pictures from Prague’s outskirts critically comment on the reality of industrial structures when contrasted with residential houses, the architecture of the original villages, or the surrounding landscape.

starting point

Crisis of Criticism and Criticism of Crisis »

Ondřej Hojda

Anyone who wants to explain the meaning of the word “criticism” often mentions its common root with the word “crisis”. That leads to a conclusion that criticism and crisis determine each other or at least need each other. The word originates from ancient Greek verb “krinein” which means to distinguish, select, classify, refine, assess. One cannot assess anything without a selection and comparison. But does criticism cause crisis or does it respond to it? First we need to ask what do we actually understand by the word criticism. In what context does it work, mental and historical? Who participates in criticism? What is its subject and what are its aims?


Does Architectural Criticism Matter? »

Joseph Rykwert

Criticism may seem somewhat irrelevant to any talk about building now that “starchitecture” is at its acme. After all, the business of a critic is to identify the best from the worst, or – if you like – the more beautiful from the uglier, the more valuable from the less. The word implies it. In ancient Greek, it pertains to winnowing or sieving, separating the wheat from the chaff. But starchitecture doesn’t make such distinctions. It is content just to be, and rises above the carping of discriminators. Criticizing celebrity architects may therefore be like making disparaging comments at a pop concert. Unlike flamboyant architecture, pop music seems to have bred a culture of shrewd, articulate critics, but their words, however sharp, cannot pierce even the most inflated bubbles of reputation.


Friendly Fire. The State of Czech Architectural Criticism as Seen by One of Its Critics »

Karolina Jirkalová

I’ve been writing about architecture for more than ten years. I’ve gradually grown to a format that is perhaps at least close to real architectural criticism. So, I am part of the problem and I cannot offer an independent perspective but “only” an immediate experience. The heyday of architectural critique – and I mean primarily the textual form of the critical reflection of the profession – is hindered by a number of mutually interconnected elements. These can be found with all participants – with authors, media, as well as readers. Architects, whose realizations or projects are the subject of a given review, hold a special place among the readers.


Anonymity Gives Us Freedom. Archwars Interviewed by Zuzana Morávková »

The majority of “ordinary” Czech people perceive architecture as an expensive, inaccessible and useless institution. That results in the general frustration of architects and the expansion of obscured construction. The absence of architects is manifested in both public and private sphere; architecture is replaced with various botches, “non-architecture”, and examples of DIY creativity. That is why the anonymous group of architects called Archwars was founded, with the aim of dishonoring bad architecture. The only one presenting himself publicly is Arch Vader, our architect-villain in a dark costume. Mockery and sarcasm are his weapons of choice, however it is evident that the activities are the work of a entire team of individuals. In this interview we focused on how they operate, what is the main purpose and future of the project, what was the result of their crowdfunding campaign on Hithit.

kniha critique

Use Value, Image Value: The New Nantes School of Architecture »

Valéry Didelon

We present the first Czech translation of Valéry Didelon’s text from the French magazine Criticat. We have selected it as an example of a thorough independent critique, although it’s not the only possible way to write a critical review. The author’s experience with the criticized building is primarily first-hand in this case because he taught at ENSA Nantes for three years. This building is one of the principal realizations by Lacaton & Vassal and it received a largely positive reception in the regular architectural press.

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completed project

More Than a Few. Social Housing in Mulhouse »

Anne Lacaton, Jean-Philippe Vassal / Lacaton & Vassal /

The new building of a residential complex with rental housing for the socially disadvantaged is located between the streets Bulher and Neppert in Jardins Neppert district which has been going through a dynamic transformation since 2010. The complex is divided into three independent four-story blocks delimiting a shared garden in the middle, offers 59 one- to two-story apartments of various sizes with spacious sunrooms. The emphasis was primarily put on the quality of the living area in addition to respect for the environment, energy efficiency, and principles of sustainable development. The building was shortlisted among forty realizations that will compete for the EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award 2017.

completed project

Memento. Transformation of Carandá Market in Braga into Dance and Music School »

Eduardo Souto de Moura

The conversion of a market hall in Carandá partly makes use of and completes the original abandoned building. Partly demolished, a section of the building displays those ruins as a reminder of the site’s history. The building designed for farmers and fish markets from 1980’ should have been an impulse for the development of Braga’s periphery. It was expected that it would have brought life to this part of the city, that it would have established a street network. The plan was successful at the beginning and new residential development grew in the neighborhood. However, the market hall ceased to exist due to social and economic changes in the 1990s. The linear character of the building allowed it to maintain only one of the originally intended uses, which is as an important pedestrian connection within the street network. The city initiated a commission for conversion of the building, and proposed a cultural and educational program be held there. So, a dance and music school was gradually built within the remains of the market hall.


I’m Interested in Criticism Emerging on the Fringe. David Crowley Interviewed by Ondřej Hojda »

We often ask how and whether it is possible to compare the situation in the allegedly small, post-communistic Czechia with conditions elsewhere in the world. Professor David Crowley is someone of the people who can offer such a perspective. He comes from the UK with its long tradition of criticism, and also has experience with the situation in Central Europe knowing some of its surprising details. Critical writing surely requires a talent, but it’s main component is practice and it can be thus learned. The question is why and how. Therefore, we have also talked about the education of future critics of art, architecture, and design in a study programme headed by David Crowley at the Royal College of Art in London.


It Is Always about the Context in Which Architecture Is Present. Nikolaus Kuhnert and Anh-Linh Ngo Interviewed by Helena Doudová »

Since its foundation, the German architectural magazine ARCH+ has been formed as an independent periodical connecting architectural theory and practice. It takes some time and a lot of effort to build a quality critical discourse and audience. Long-time publisher of ARCH+ and doyen of architecture editors Nikolaus Kuhnert and his successor as Editor-in-Chief of ARCH+, Anh-Linh Ngo, describe their search for critical approach to transatlantic discussion about architecture and critical vacuum in Germany after 1945, the necessity to continually cultivate the discourse, as well as the current crisis of critical media and magazines.


Criticism in Contemporary Europe »

We have asked chief editors of significant architectonic magazines, theorists, and academics from througout Europe: Does architectural criticism matter? Do you think the role of criticism has changed in the last few years? What do you think is the main characteristic of criticism in your country?

completed project

Culture on the Move. Variable Cultural Space PRAHA / Forum for Architecture and Media in Brno »

Jakub Kopec, Jaroslav Sedlák

The connecting neck of Pražák Palace and Besední dům, located on a ring road in Brno, has served as a restoration workshop for many years. After reconstruction, it was transformed into a barrier-free cultural space for lectures, workshops, concerts, exhibitions, performances, screenings, and other activities, with a café, a bar, and facilities. There is no permanent program, no constant use. All partitions were removed from the addition and the space is able to adapt to any program thanks to its mobile furniture, and if necessary, can also expand in the courtyard.

completed project

Revelation. Flying Black House in a Military Area Pod Vinicí »

Vít Šimek, Štěpán Řehoř, Tomáš Madro, Darina Bartková, Martina Kubešová, Tomáš Bařinka, Robert Krejčí / H3T architekti /

At the end of last year, a flying black house appeared under an old railway arch in the military area Pod Vinicí (Červeňák Natural Reserve). The structure, archetypal in shape, is suspended on four steel cables and it is comprised of a living room with a stove and an attic for sleeping. The installation includes a ladder hidden somewhere nearby, which must first be discovered by those interested in taking a close look at the structure. The installation is supposed to provoke passers-by to ask themselves simple questions: Why was this house built, who suspended it here, and what does it look like inside?


Failed Architecture »

Failed Architecture (FA) is a research platform that aims to open up new perspectives on urban failure – from what it’s perceived to be, what’s actually happening and how it’s represented to the public. Supported by a website, travelling workshops and a series of lectures, FA seeks to develop ongoing and open conversations with experts and the public at large. FA finds it crucial to examine architecture from more than just an architectural perspective. Since architecture is a product of the political, economic and social conditions of its time, it should be scrutinized as such.



Introduction to Building Acoustics: Meaning, Aims and Recommendations

Petr Novák, Marcela Bosáčková


Construction Products Certification

Lubomír Keim

completed project

Be Fit. Application Center BALUO in Olomouc »

Miroslav Pospíšil / atelier-r /

The campus of the Faculty of Physical Culture of Palacký University Olomouc was completed with a new building of the application center for sports-medical research and education in autumn 2016. The building is comprised of three structures housing swimming pools, gyms, laboratories, and additional rooms. The specific uses are imprinted on the exterior in a legible composition of volumes as well as in the façade materials. The application center is the first phase of a long-term project; in the upcoming years, the adjacent unused building will be reconstructed to house the Center of Kinanthropologic Research.

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Projekt se v roce 2023 uskutečňuje za finanční podpory: Ministerstva kultury ČR, Nadace české architektury, Statutárního města Brna a Státního fondu kultury ČR.
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