“Architecture for everyone” is the motto of Open House Prague this year, which invites visitors to see buildings and spaces that aren’t usually accessible in 10 city districts. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year we will meet our visitors on a new date, in September. To our delight, many of our partners who we had originally agreed with have decided to participate again,” says festival director Andrea Šenkyříková, and adds: “We continue to monitor the latest information about the state of the coronavirus epidemic, and we will ensure that the operation and hygienic conditions in the buildings are appropriate.”
Open House Prague festival will take place from September 1 to September 6, 2020. During the weekend of that week, visitors will be able to take a look around 73 usually inaccessible buildings and spaces, and starting on September 1, the weekdays will offer an accompanying program consisting of guided walks, lectures, and debates on city architecture. The festival of open buildings is now a traditional architecture holiday which allows people to explore the hidden treasures of the city for free and enjoy the unique atmosphere of communality and excitement from exploring places.
This year will be enjoyed not only by fans of urban exploration but also fans of technological and residential buildings. The program will offer reconstructions as well as new and awarded constructions, which were designed with respect to esthetics as well as the quality of inner environment. Beautiful views over Prague will be available from terraces and roofs, and visitors will also get to explore ancient undergrounds. The weekend program will be accompanied by supporting events on the weekdays, which will provide visitors with more information on selected buildings and topics from the program. The information center of the festival will open on September 1 in Radost House in Žižkov.
The former Palace of Culture, now Congress Center Prague, which forms the main visual of the festival, is one of the 30 newly participating buildings. Aside from opening buildings, the organizers have also focused on introducing the history and revitalization plans of important premises owned by the city. Visitors will be able to access the premises of Prague Marketplace, including the former slaughterhouse stock market, the cold storage located underground, or the water tower built at the end of the 19th century. Prague Exhibiton Grounds will offer a tour of the technological background of the sports hall, the swimming pool, or Spirála Theater. Buildings that represent successful conversions of technological buildings that were changed by architects for their own use include Braasi Factory in Holešovice or the offices of Machine House in Karlín. A rich industrial past is tied to Nusle Brewery, whose revitalization is currently being prepared. A complete reconstruction was recently done at the recently opened town hall of the Municipal District of Prague 7 in Holešovice. As for brand new buildings, the festival will show for example Prachnerova Residency, nominated for the Czech Architecture Award, or the ČSOB Campus in Radlice (SHQ as well as NHQ building), which serves as an example of an eco-friendly architecture. As in previous years, the program will also include interestingly designed administration spaces. Visitors will have a chance to look inside a few coworking centers, including HubHub, located in the functionalist ARA palace, Sněmovní 7, and NN IT Hub in Smíchov, which won the title of the “Most attractive office of 2019” in the Art of Space Awards contest. The festival will also be joined by the creative agency of DBB Prague, whose premises won the “Offices of the 21st century” award.
The festival will also commemorate a couple of this year’s important anniversaries. On the occasion of the 140th anniversary of the birth of architect Josef Chochol, visitors can look inside the Kovařovic Villa, built in the style of cubism and located at the Rašín Embankment. The main office of Vyšehrad National Cultural Monument can be visited on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the institution’s foundation. This year we are also commemorating 175 years since the arrival of the first train to Prague and since the opening of Masaryk Railway Station for passengers.
Buildings coming alive
The attention of the public is getting more and more focused on buildings whose administration and operation is possible thanks to active civil associations or individuals. Such buildings include for example Karlín Barracks, Jatka78, Pragovka, and others. “We would like to point out the amount of work, dedication, finances, and time-limited agreement uncertainties that are behind the activity of people and the life of the buildings. The associations connect local communities, and thanks to a resourceful program dramaturgy, they give new life not only to the buildings themselves but also to their surroundings,” says Andrea Šenkyříková. The program of the festival will also feature buildings where a multifunctional civil use is expected in the future – for example Krenovka, a former railway public house in Žižkov, or Orionka Tram Depot. There will also be a debate regarding the topic.
The organizers aren’t forgetting about children or hearing-impaired people either. In cooperation with Czech Radio’s Světluška Foundation, this year the festival offers special guided tours for people with visual impairment. “Open House Prague is not just about the direct experience from architecture, but it also has a significant social, educational, and communal impact. The motto of the festival this year fulfills the very essence of this event. We want the festival to be truly for everyone,” concludes festival director Andrea Šenkyříková.
Open House Prague is part of the Open House Worldwide international network of festivals, which take place in 46 cities around the world. The festival is joined by hundreds of volunteers, who help with the opening of the buildings and who are being recruited until the very start of the event.
You can find the list of open buildings here.
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