The traditional weekend festival for all architecture lovers, the Open House Prague festival, was held on May 18–19, 2019. This year, the festival drew more than 76,000 visitors, which is by 40 percent more than last year. The world famous festival was held for the fifth time in Prague and like every year buildings and spaces which are normally inaccessible were opened to the public. This year, the festival offered in total 80 architectonically interesting buildings and spaces in the 10 municipal districts of Prague.
“This year we focused on opening buildings and spaces in suburban municipal districts like Ďáblice, Suchdol, Strašnice or Modřany and we were very much surprised to witness how many visitors came to see these festival spaces,” says the director of the festival, Andrea Šenkyříková. In Ďáblice alone, over 1,100 people came to see the local observatory, elementary school, Municipal house, the chapel, cemetery or the community centre.
As to the newly opened buildings, both the historical palaces at Hradčany and Lesser Town (e.g. Hrzán Palace, Trauttmannsdorf Palace or Liechtenstein Palace) and modern green buildings (e.g. Visionary in Holešovice and Dock in Two in Libeň) aroused great interest among the visitors. “We are glad that visitors seek to explore current architectural realizations and are not oblivious to Prague and its development,” adds Andrea Šenkyříková. However, Great Strahov Stadium was by far the biggest attraction to lure the festival visitors – 6,300 people visited the stadium during the festival weekend. “The historical background of the stadium drew the attention of contemporaries who can still remember the famous Spartakiad (a national sports event held during the communist era) as well as the young generation who is interested in the future of this dilapidating cultural monument which belongs among the biggest sports stadiums in the world,” adds Andrea Šenkyříková.
Apart from the Strahov Stadium, the festival offered the visitors other unique spaces like e.g. Water Tower in Letná, Strašnice Crematorium, Vyšehrad historic steamboat, Třebešín Velodrome or two fallout shelters. A wide range of buildings and spaces were opened to the public, from administrative, residential, school and technical buildings to cultural monuments.
The longest queue (about 2,5 hours of waiting) could be found in front of Hotel International Prague in Dejvice, which became the main visual logo of our festival this year. City Mayor´s Residency required an estimated 1 hour of queuing and the first tour here was guided by the City Mayor Zdeněk Hřib himself. One of our fixed stars attracting eager crowds is Petschek Palace visited by more than 3,300 people this year. The first tour here was given by the Minister of Industry and Trade, Karel Havlíček. In total, more than 350 OHP volunteers helped with the organization in buildings, supported by employees, owners or caretakers of the buildings who were involved as well. “There were even several special commented tours given by knowledgeable architects or historians who volunteered for Open House Praha festival,” says Andrea Šenkyříková.
A rich accompanying program drew to the festival many families with children, who could explore our Lego workshop and there were 16 special commented tours for children in 6 festival buildings and even one special architecture game. More than 350 children took part in the special programs designed for them. In addition, two festival buildings carried out 3 tours for deaf people interpreted into Czech sign language and provided simultaneous transcription as well. On top of that, seven buildings offered English-guided tours. To celebrate the fifth year of the Open House Prague festival, a handful of special events took place during the festival week before the actual festival began.
5 years of the festival
In the past five years, the organizers of the Open House Prague festival have made 272 buildings accessible in total; these have recorded more than 260,000 visits. Each year, the festival attracts tens of thousands of visitors who come not only from the capital but also from all over the Czech Republic and abroad. Open House is the biggest architecture event in the world.
History of Open House
The concept of the festival was born in London in 1992 and has expanded into 46 cities around the whole world since then. Prague became part of the Open House Worldwide network six years ago and since 2015 the list of buildings opened to the general public has been growing. Ever since the first year of the Prague festival in 2015, the post of the patroness of the festival has been held by the worldwide-known Czech architect Eva Jiřičná, who also stood at the beginning of the Open House festival in London and was its part for nearly 20 years. The event is organized by Open House Praha, z. ú., which is also dedicated to other all year long activities, including the development of educational programs for volunteers, children, young adults, or disabled people.