Municipal House in Prague

The Municipal House in Prague, Czech Republic, is a prime example of Art Nouveau and one of my favorite buildings in the world. The structure was built in the early 20th century before the Communist Revolution, before the mid-century modern craze (and what I like to refer to as Communist furniture), and before the concept of buildings solely built for the purpose of utility took Central Europe by storm.

The level of detail put into this building is astounding, from the sculpted statuettes along each staircase, to the leaded crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceilings.

This building is a stark contrast to a highly controversial and clean modern building in Prague called the Dancing House. The building itself was erected at the site of a WWII bombing (one of the few in Prague.) Although it has won multiple architectural awards, this building with its clean lines, glass walls and floors, and really a lack of ornamentation sticks out  like a sore thumb along the Charles River because of this lack of ornamentation. Although, since its erection, the building has been accepted as a part of the waterfront.

Ornament can bring timelessness and longevity to buildings. It is necessary in cases of restoration and cohesion in many cases. Here we have a case of two buildings built in the same century juxtaposed by buildings which are up to a eight hundred years older (ie Romanesque basilicas like St. George’s.)


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