7th Open House Prague was visited by more than 53,000 people

14. 8. 2021
photo: Mariia Reshtovaniuk

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Open House Prague has once again taken place on a new date, this time on August 2–8, 2021. The 2021 Open House Prague was attended by more than 53,000 visitors, with the buildings open during the weekend and the accompanying program on the weekdays combined.

Unlike last year, when the festival also took place on a new date, we see a larger number of visitors again, just like we did in the years before the pandemic. This year’s festival was attended by half more visitors than last year,
says festival director Andrea Šenkyříková.

The accompanying program on the weekdays included a number of events which helped disclose architecture to visitors in an unconventional way. People could take a ride on theVltava paddle steamer or take the Kotěra tram and listen to a commentary provided by architect Zdeněk Lukeš, enjoy a unique evening with a contemporary dance performance at the Laichter House with a tour in the evening, or take part in a debate and a movie projectionon the topic of abandoned buildings at the Great Strahov Stadium. Another popular accompanying event was the tour and the discussion regarding the reconstruction of the Zenger Transformer Center, the future seat of Kunsthalle Praha. There were other guided tours and walks, too – for example, on the occasion of the 130th anniversary of the foundation of the Prague Exhibition Grounds, the 150th anniversary of the Gröb Villa, or the 150th anniversary of the first train arriving in Prague.

photo: Tomáš Sysel

“We were surprised to see such a large number of people interested in the accompanying program of the 2021 Open House Prague. The events were available for a limited number of attendees only, and although we were obliged to check confirmations of freedom from infection at most of these events, by the beginning of the festival week all the spots were taken,” says Andrea Šenkyříková.

photo: Dušan Vondra

The main program taking place on the weekend included 79 buildings and spaces that are not usually accessible. With 26 newly participating buildings, there were already queues at a number of these on Saturday morning.

“To follow the current measures imposed by the government, at first we limited the size of groups at some buildings. However, during the weekend we had to increase the size of groups and check confirmations of freedom from infection due to a large number of visitors so that they would not have to wait for too long,” explains Andrea Šenkyříková, and continues: “The largest number of visitors was at the Vršovice Water Tower in Michle. Those who were brave enough could climb up to the 42-meter high tower, or go down into the underground water tank and learn more about this cultural monument whose reconstruction is now being finished.”

Another busy place was the Garden of Arts, hidden under the bridge in Nusle, which served as a sculpture plant in the era of the First Czechoslovak Republic.

photo: Dušan Vondra

“The enthusiasm with which the current owner is continually restoring the garden is remarkable. His years-long efforts have finally come closer to an end, and we are pleased to have contributed to letting people discover this place,” says Andrea Šenkyříková.

photo: Dušan Vondra

Other frequently visited buildings included for example ARA Palace, Laichter House, Hotel International Prague, Šaloun Villa, the gardens of the Czernin Palace, Štvanice Waterworks, or Kunsthalle Praha. Aside from three water towers, visitors could also see several underground shelters, two châteaux, a former spa, sports facilities, an observatory, a water mill, or hotels. Artistic spaces and ateliers were a separate theme route. The organizers also commemorated the 150th anniversary of the birth of architect Jan Kotěra by opening several of his buildings. More events related to the anniversary of the founder of modern Czech architecture will continue in the fall.

With the festival being a community project, it could never take place without an active participation of the owners and the people from the buildings, nor without a large number of volunteers.

“Although this is the time of summer holidays and vacations, there were nearly 350 volunteers who helped organize attendance in the buildings and the tours this year. Many of them have been with us since the very first Open House Prague because this work makes sense to them and inspires them in their professional as well as private life,” says Klára Veselá, main coordinator of volunteers, and continues: “Coordinating so many volunteers who are spread throughout the entire city at once is a very difficult task. Open House Prague is the only event in the Czech Republic that can engage so many people at once.”

photo: Dušan Vondra

The motto of this year’s Open House Prague was Architecture for everybody. Selected tours were interpreted into the Czech sign language, there were tactile plans and ground plans and 3D models of some of the buildings for people with visual disabilities who were able to explore the buildings during special guided tours. There was a rich accompanying program for families with children, too – a lego workroom, interactive guided tours with worksheets for little architects, a ride on the velodrome, or a theater performance.

Open House Prague is part of Open House Worldwide, an international network of festivals which take place in 50 cities around the world. With the help of hundreds of volunteers, Open House Prague is not only a cultural holiday but also a unique event with an impact on local communities and the society.

photo: Dušan Vondra

Check out snapshots from the festival in our Facebook gallery! A photogallery for the website is in the works…

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