Sunday, 18 August 2019

Historians ask minister to help save brutalist building in Prague

24 January 2017

Prague, Jan 23 (CTK) - Historians of art from Czech universities have asked Culture Minister Daniel Herman to prevent the planned demolition of the former Transgas complex of buildings in the centre of Prague, which they described as an exceptional example of brutalist architecture.
In their letter, the experts protest against the ministry's refusal to put the complex on the list of cultural heritage that enables its owner to pull it down and replace with what they call a common administrative building.
"We are convinced that the decision...was very unfortunate. That is why we are asking you to use your influence to save this unique complex," writes the letter signed by heads of the history of arts departments and institutes of Charles University, Masaryk University, Academy of Fine Arts (AVU), Palacky University and the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design (VSUP).
The complex of three buildings, former seat of the Transgas utility directorate and the now defunct Fuel and Energy Ministry stands next to the Czech Radio building near the central Wenceslas Square.
Its present owner, HB Reavis, wants to replace it with a multifunctional complex of seven buildings designed by experienced architect Jakub Cigler.
The advocates of the old complex, built by a team of architects Jindrich Malatek, Ivo Loos, Zdenek Eisenreich and Vaclav Aulicky in 1966-76, say it is one of the most distinguished constructions in the style of brutalism in the Czech Republic.
"In the context of Czech architecture of the latter half of the 20th century, it is an exceptional building that creatively follows up the period styles of Western technicism and brutalism," the historians wrote to Herman.
They appreciated the Transgas complex's architectonic design as well as the "noteworthy technical details that have been mostly preserved in their authenticity."
In view of its authors' creative invention and courage to make technical experiments, the complex is comparable with buildings such as the nearby former Federal Assembly building and the Jested transmission tower in north Bohemia, which both enjoy the cultural heritage status, the historians wrote.
They dismiss the ministry's argument that the Transgas complex's architectonic qualities do not prevail over its urban shortcomings.

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