For one weekend in year headquarters of companies, offices and modern technical buildings we are just used to pass by will be open. It will be possible to visit more than 40 places with exceptional interiours, interesting history and unusual views of Prague usually closed to public. More than 30 structures will be open in Prague, and not all of them are old buildings. Some of the newest, such as Florentinum, Main Point Karlín, Artgen, Fusion Hotel and Port #58 will be having visitors.
The list cuts across almost all architectural eras, with Strahov Monastery and St Agnes Convent from among historical religious buildings, up through Baroque houses and communist-era ministries, to 1990s works like the Dancing House and then the new works. The houses will be open between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Their owners joined Open House deliberately and for free therefore it is up to their decision whether the building is open the whole weekend or just one day.
Open House offers also several technical constructions: a historical water power plant on Štvanice island on Moldau river; a high voltage lab and a Student e-Formula garage of the Electro-technical faculty of the Czech Technical University; a spherical gasholder in Libeň that was bombed in 1945 and has been used by the Aeronautical Research and Test Institute since. The most bizarre construction opened by the festival is a historical velodrome hidden in a residential area of Třebešín. Visitors can borrow a bike and a helmet and try its sloping curves.
A few places have limited capacity or specific guided tours, so registering in advance over the festival website is necessary for those. Registration is possible from May 12. The festival began in 1992 in London, and more cities join as time goes on. “The first open house in Vienna last year attracted 30,000 people, which greatly exceeded the expectations of organizers. In Prague half the number of buildings will be open, but we also have high ambitions,” Michal Tošovský, one of the local organizers, said in a press release.
The purpose of the festival is to make people more aware of their surroundings. “The Open House festival provides access to buildings or their sections that are closed to the public for most of the year. While these buildings form the face of the city and determine our route, we usually move between the buildings. We want to bring people the opportunity to go inside so as to enhance the public’s interest in its surroundings,” said festival coordinator Andrea Šenkyříková of the NGO Open Society, which holds the license for the festival in the Czech Republic.
Internationally, the festival has been running in 32 cities in Europe, America and Australia, and comes this year to the Czech Republic for the first time. The founder of the festival, Victoria Thornton, will be coming to Prague for the inaugural event. The festival is under the patronage of architect Eva Jiřičná, who attended the London festival in 1992 and was a participant for more than 20 years.
The international organizers of the worldwide initiative require that admission to buildings is free and that the building owners do not have to pay mandatory fee to participate as well. The primary aim of Open House is an architectural education event. “The Open House event should maintain the core values of the Open House concept: to foster appreciation, understanding and learning among your own communities along with the value of architectural excellence and showcasing outstanding design, including quality contemporary design,” the website for the Open House Worldwide states.
Open House Prague 2015
When: May 16–17, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Where: Various locations; info center at Fusion Hotel, Panská 9, Prague 1
Some of the buildings participating:
National Theatre – New Scene
Klášter sv. Anežky
former seat of ČSOB bank
Štvanice power plant
Libeňský plynojem (gasometer in Libeň)
Dům odborových svazů
Ministry of Industry and Trade
Masarykovo railway station
News source: Open House Prague