The sixth Open House Prague festival took place on an alternative date from September 1 to September 6. The festival started out with a series of small events that livened up architecturally interesting buildings with music or dance. The Cubist Kovařovic Vila, Braasi Factory, or the Functionalist Radost House witnessed a performance of classical music done by the Czech ensemble Vážný zájem. The premises of Prague Crossroads witnessed a contemporary dance performance. This year’s theme route titled Buildings coming alive was stirred by a debate with representatives of the Karlín Barracks, Radost House, or Prague Marketplace. As part of the accompanying program, the marketplace was where we also offered a special guided tour focused on the place’s history as well as revitalization plans.
The weekend of September 5 and 6 was when 66 usually inaccessible buildings were opened, from industrial monuments to historic palaces, modernly designed offices, eco-friendly buildings, or residential buildings.
“Originally, 73 of our partners had enrolled their buildings, but some of them had to withdraw from the program at the last minute, mostly due to reasons related to the coronavirus epidemic. Despite increased safety measures, we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of public interest in the open buildings. Given that the festival took place on an alternative date and during a situation like this, we recorded roughly half the attendance compared to previous years. We considered that to be a success,” says festival director Andrea Šenkyříková, and adds: “We believe the festival has shown the possibilities that organizers of cultural events have, and that even during these difficult times it is possible to prepare an event in such a way that the safety of visitors is not in danger.”
We recorded the highest attendance in the newly participating buildings such as the Cubist Kovařovic Villa, Straka Academy, Congress Center Prague, Sněmovní 7 and HubHub coworking centers, Nusle Brewery, or the recently finished New Town Hall of the Municipal District of Prague 7. Visitors were also attracted to non-traditional premises such as underground shelters, water towers, industrial and technical buildings.
In collaboration with owners or managers of the buildings, 300 volunteers took care of the organization of tours as well as the commentary. They appealed to the visitors for mutual consideration and made sure that group sizes and frequency of tours were not exceeded. Tours guided directly by the architects of certain buildings were also included in the program.
“We adjusted the festival program to the current situation, and we tried to offer tours of not only buildings but also of larger areas such as the Exhibition Grounds, Pragovka, Podkovářská, Libosad, or Orionka Tram Depot,” adds Andrea Šenkyříková.
The motto of the Open House Prague festival this year was Architecture for everyone. Children could build their own building in a lego workroom or come accompanied by their parents on a special tour with worksheets. In three buildings, hearing impaired people could attend a tour with translation to Czech sign language, along with a simultaneous transcription of the commentary. For the first time ever, tours were also prepared for visually impaired people, who visited seven festival buildings where they not only listened to the commentary but were also able to read more information about the buildings and their surroundings thanks to haptic maps.
The next Open House Prague festival will take place on May 10–16, 2021. We are also preparing a project for the fall titled Cubism in Prague’s architecture, dedicated to celebrating the anniversary of the birth of Czech architects of the Cubist period. During this event, the Kovařovic Villa will be opened once again, and there will be walks around Prague prepared with focus on the unique Czech Cubist architecture. We will publish more information on our website during September.
This fall, on November 14–15, the very first Open House Worldwide festival will take place. The collaborative event of more than 35 cities from the international network will offer a livestreamed program including various events, discussions, tours, and more. Open House Worldwide will tackle various topics, from climate change and housing to transport and post-pandemic design. Open House Worldwide festival will be streamed online for free on the website of Open House Worldwide. More information at www.openhouseworldwide.org.
If you enjoyed the festival, you can support preparations for the next year at Darujme.cz.
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