ERA21 #03/2017 Memory Blackout

kniha editorial

Memory Blackout

Šárka Svobodová, Jaroslav Sedlák

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kniha column

Petr Lešek

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kniha completed project

Scroll. St. Wenceslas Church in Sazovice »

Marek Štěpán / Atelier Štěpán /

The idea to build a church in Sazovice was conceived before WWII but it was only six years ago when the inhabitants of Sazovice returned to this idea and founded the Society for Church Construction. The church is situated in the natural center of the village and its geometry is based on a circular ground plan with a 16.8 meters radius that comes from the archetype of St. Wenceslas Chapel in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague. The circle can be also perceived as a period, a place to stop, rest, and contemplate. The architectonic concept works with the tube‑shaped skin and forms it as if it were paper. Each wall is slit by a window that brings daylight inside the church and softly shapes its interior space. The church has three floors – the main circular nave and two choir lofts – and the basement with social facilities.

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Imperial Pomp »

Frank Herfort

Not every skyscraper is minimalistically glazed. Some are brightly colored, brazenly showy, playfully combining Classicism, Stalinism, Avant-Garde, and a touch of Lego. They sprout up in city centers and in the suburbs, surrounded by blocks of flats or shacks. They are the symbol of new Russia, recalling the (good) old days, while at the same time trying to forget them. The specific aesthetic of these buildings and inappropriateness of their immediate surroundings is captured in a photography project called Imperial Pomp created during travels across the former Soviet Union countries.


On Interpretation of Architecture from the Past and Present. Monika Mitášová and Marian Zervan Interviewed by Šárka Svobodová and Jaroslav Sedlák »

This year, the Slovakian National Gallery published two books dedicated to the work of architect Vladimír Dedeček. The first one is called Vladimír Dedeček. Becoming Architect prepared by Monika Mitášová and it is focused on Dedeček’s beginnings and shows the birth of his own designing methods. The second publication was prepared by Monika Mitášová in cooperation with theorist Marian Zervan and other authors. It is called Vladimír Dedeček. Interpretation of Architectonic Work. Besides other informations the book contains textual, architectural, and photographic interpretation of the four most discussed works by Dedeček. We spoke with the authors of these books about the issue of critical assessment of architecture built during, but not limited to, the socialist era.


Houses Are Built, Houses Are Demolished. Václav Aulický Interviewed by Klára Mergerová »

While the days of Telephone Exchange in Dejvice are numbered, the fate of the brutalist complex Transgas on Vinohradská Street has not yet been decided. In a move form last December, strongly opposed by a part of the professional public, the Ministry refused to list it as a protected heritage monument. Right now, the review proceedings are in progress, the results of which should be known by autumn. The current owner of the site plans to build an administrative complex. Klára Mergerová talked not only about Transgas and the demolition of the Telephone Exchange in Dejvice with the author of both buildings, architect Václav Aulický.


Anarchy versus Regulation »

Jaroslav Sedlák

Housing estates built during the socialist era are going through transformations and urban neologies. In the Czech Republic, as well as in many other former Soviet satellites, their form and development are bound by regulations. On the other hand, in the former Soviet Union the current form of housing estates is a result of architectural and urban interventions not controlled by the government. Although in many cases these are expansionary manifestations on the verge of “folk ingenuity” we can track functional urban planning principles of “cityness” by their examples.


Peace Agreement with Modernism »

Eva Magnusková

The Amsterdam neighborhood Bijlmermeer has been under construction since the late 1960s as a model example of modernist urbanism. The composition of high-rise buildings based on a hexagonal grid should have become a spacious alternative for the congested inner city with enough greenery, fresh air and natural light in interiors. The radical reconstruction of the housing estate in the last thirty years has been focused mainly on the humanization of the existing scale, the demolition of the decaying blocks, and the creation of smaller residential complexes. The last structure that still maintains the original Bijlmermeer look is a residential block Kleiburg that has since remained the biggest building of this type in Netherlands.

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Last Man Standing. The Renovation of the Residential Block Kleiburg in Amsterdam »

NL Architects, XVW architectuur

While most attempts to renovate Bijlmermeer focused on the humanization of the architecture and removing the structure’s uniformity, the aim of the reconstruction of Kleiburg was to strengthen unity. To tear down the 400-meter-long building by Fop Ottenhof would otherwise mean the collapse of the whole magnificent urban composition. The eleven-story building survived thanks to the efforts of Consortium De Flat that came with a very inventive solution. Based on the concept of Klusflat, only inner and outer infrastructure and façade were modified and 500 flats were left unfurnished and undivided so that the new owners could furnish and arrange them by themselves. The authors of the reconstruction received the Mies van der Rohe Award 2017, the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture. It is the first time in the history of the Prize that the winning building wasn’t new but it was a renovation of existing structure. With their vote, the jury stressed the significance of collective and social housing today. The project asks an important question regarding the solution of the current housing crisis in European cities.

completed project

Treading lightly. The Conversion of a Restaurant Pavilion into The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow »


The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art has a new home in a renovated 1960s restaurant in Moscow’s Gorky Park. Since its closure, the prefabricated concrete pavilion has become a derelict. Despite its dilapidated condition, the building still radiated a certain generosity and transparency successfully preserved and reinterpreted in the new solution. From the outside, the building acquired an original silhouette thanks to a translucent polycarbonate façade with entrance panels which slide upwards. Inside, there are three stories of variable exhibition spaces and other accompanying functions. Instead of uniform white walls, the interior is framed with the original mosaic walls, tiles, and bricks.


The Prevailing Attitudes on Soviet Architectural Heritage in Georgia »

Levan Asabašvili

The subject of the soviet architectural heritage of late modernist period in contemporary Georgia cannot be located in the framework of narrow disciplinary debate. Rather it is an integral part of the broader social, economic and political narratives emerged after the fall of the Soviet Union, particularly post colonial discourse of nationalism having deep roots in the historical process taking place in the region. Furthermore, in order to fully grasp the logic of the dominant narratives and subsequent approaches for treatment of the Soviet late modernist architectural heritage, it is necessary to draw the parallels and outline interrelations to the socio-cultural changes that have been taking place globally and above all in the United States since the 1960s.


Skopje – Utopian City in Béton Brut »

Peter Sägesser

On July 26, 1963, the city of Skopje was demolished by an earthquake that lasted only twenty seconds. More than one thousand people died and three quarters of Skopje’s citizens lost their homes. Eighty percent of all houses were destroyed, including nineteen schools and nine hospitals. Only the old Ottoman town north of the River Vardar remained. Shortly after the earthquake, it was decided that the city would be renovated, and in the 1960s, Skopje became an experimental lab of social-utopian urbanism, but the controversial project of the current Macedonian government, Skopje 2014, is trying to cover the precious brutalist structures with new historicizing facades.

completed project

Origami. The Reconstruction of Széll Kálmán Square in Budapest »

Építész Stúdió, Lépték-Terv

In the summer of 2016, Budapest finished the redevelopment of a busy downtown Széll Kálmán Square. In its center, there is a renewed metro station from the 1970s. The complex reconstruction aimed to logically reorganize the pedestrian traffic in the square, with thirty intersecting bus and tram lines, metro, and a two-lane road from the city center towards Buda Hills. It was no less demanding to decide the fate of the original, quite faded socialist structures built into later additions. The old tram stops and a turning loop were removed, but on the other side, the iconic metro station with a fan-shaped concrete roof became a landmark again.

completed project

Sensitively. Conversion of RAF Caversfield Air Base in Bicester, England »

FAM Architekti, Feilden+Mawson

Currently, there are roughly half a million buildings listed in the British register of historical monuments that are divided according to their importance into three categories: most strictly preserved monuments of the Grade I (2.5 %), lower category are monuments of the Grade II Star (5.8 %), and almost 92 % are historical buildings of the Grade II. The former RAF Caversfield Air Base belongs to the last group; it was built between 1918 and 1945, and since 2009 it’s been owned by a private investor who decided to transform it into a residential neighborhood. The 100,000-square-meter compound contains 24 original buildings of various typologies and functions from accommodation through offices, laboratories, and dining halls to technical buildings. Now, there are 33 new buildings in the form of courtyard houses, row houses, detached houses and pavilions whose architecture is based on material continuity with the original historical buildings.


Non-Iconic Ruin Workshop in Trnava »

Vít Halada

On May 9–18, a workshop called The Non-Iconic Ruin took place at the Department of Architectonic Design VŠVU Bratislava in cooperation with the Faculty of Arts of Trnava University and the city of Trnava. The example of Hviezda Cinema in Trnava was used to test “iconic” strategies for the resuscitation of socialist “palaces” of culture. The workshop was tutored by Benjamín Brádňanský, Vít Halada, Jakub Kopec and Ján Studený. It consisted of a series of lectures in the cinema: Marián Zervan introduced the term proto-iconic ruin in relation to Jencks’ Iconic Building; Marek Adamov and Jakub Kopec showed how a revival of the buildings can be made possible by individuals and through cultures; and Jano Studený presented an individual approach to the transformation of existing spaces. The workshop was part of a research project called The Iconic Ruins within the international project Shared Cities: Creative Momentum.


Extension of the Research Library of South Bohemia in České Budějovice »

In October 2016, a competition was announced for the extension of the former Museum of Labor's Revolutionary Movement, today the Research Library of South Bohemia on Lidická Street in České Budějovice. It was one of the first ones to be announced in accordance with the new public commissions act in the form of a single-phase shortlist competition for proposals. The jury selected six competition proposals based on their portfolios. The subject of the competition was the architectonic design of the extension and necessary modifications of the existing 1970s building by Jan Malát, Jiří Vít, and Jan Řezníček. The aim was to obtain a conceptual solution of the building and its surroundings with the requirement to increase its capacity for the free selection by approximately 130 thousand volumes with expected realization costs up to CZK 90 million.


Action D »

David Helešic, Marek Svoboda

The starting point of the project is a cultural house in Práče, Znojmo District, built in 1970–1972 by architect Jan Dvořák. The typical fragment of Dvořák’s gabled roof is used in a fictitious way that is offered to a previously selected village for realization. The project, analyzing principles of handling finances within subsidy programs and comparing them to the former Action Z, themes the context of architecture created during the previous regime. It was awarded an honorable mention in the XII Bohuslav Fuchs Award, a competition of student works at the Faculty of Architecture TU Brno.


Panelstory. Experimental Pavilions, “Flat Space” in Chișinău and “The Unification of Panels” in Berlin »

Stefan Rusu, Robert K. Huber / zukunftsgeraeusche /

We can’t properly perceive the present or think about the future without a reflection on the past. A specific form of this refection is represented by two projects of experimental prefab concrete pavilions in Moldova and Germany. The Chișinău Flat Space is a precise replica of an Eastern-European socialist apartment, and as a successor of the former underground home exhibitions, it also serves as a venue for independent cultural activities. The Berlin pavilion was made from fragments salvaged during demolitions of two modernist buildings and today it serves as a research, educational, and cultural space at the former Tempelhof Airport. Both projects use the prefab concrete panel form – the main building block of modernism.



Building Insulation – Fire Safety News

Isabela Bradáčová, Tereza Česelská

completed project

Two Towers. Multipurpose Building Panorama City in Bratislava »

Juraj Hermann / P-T /

The new residential towers, Panorama City, have become the new landmark of Bratislava and the highest building in Slovakia. The two three-sided prisms reach a height of 112.6 meters and rest on a five-story trapezoid garage body; in the ground floor, there is an entrance, shops, and other public services. The original ambitious design of a multifunctional complex was already made eleven years ago in cooperation with Ricardo Bofill’s office. However, due to the financial crisis, the scope of the project was significantly reduced and the realization was postponed a few years.

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