Saturday, 21 October 2017

Praguescape: X and O mark the spot

By Kristina Alda |
Prague Daily Monitor |
13 January 2009

praguescape icon

Projektil's Educational and Scientific Library in Hradec Králové is shaped like an X. (ČTK): Projektil's Educational and Scientific Library in Hradec Králové is shaped like an X. (ČTK)Projektil's Educational and Scientific Library in Hradec Králové is shaped like an X. (ČTK)
Empty space is hard to come by in downtown Prague whose cityscape is densely packed with layers of history and streets stuffed with tourists. The exhibition on display at the Jaroslav Frágner Gallery in Betlémské náměstí can provide the perfect respite: The main exhibition area is just an empty room, filled only with the sounds of crunching footsteps.

The subject of the show is the Czech architectural studio Projektil, responsible for such projects as the Centre for Ecological Activities Sluňákov in Olomouc or the Educational and Scientific Library in Hradec Králové, and the sounds echoing through the empty room come from a recording of a walk through Projektil's latest project: the National Technical Library in Prague 6. Photos and videos in the first part of the exhibition show Projektil's other projects.

Projektil, whose team of architects includes Roman Brychta, Adam Halíř, Ondřej Hofmeister and Petr Lešek, recently received the architectural Grand Prix for the Sluňákov centre, an energy efficient building constructed from local low-cost materials: concrete, wood, glass, bricks and stone. It's Projektil's latest library projects, however, that have been attracting the most attention.

The Educational and Scientific Library in Hradec Králové has a ground plan shaped like the letter X, with the core serving as a central communication area and each wing of the X, devoted to a different type of service.

Closer to home for Praguers is the new technical library in Dejvice, owned by the Czech Technical University. This building is shaped like the letter O, and like the Sluňákov centre, has cost-saving, low-energy features. It has a small surface area in relation to its volume, which minimises heat loss in the winter and overheating in the summer. To further boost insulation, the roof of the building will be planted with shrubs and grass, resulting garden that will serve as an accumulator that regulates the flow of rain water. The library's concrete core, meanwhile, will either help store heat or preserve coolness, depending on the season.

Like all of Projektil's larger projects, the library in Dejvice also features plenty of open space in all the main areas, with high ceilings and atriums. The library is scheduled to open this autumn. Before it does, the exhibition at the Frágner gallery, which runs until 1 February, is well worth a look – and a welcome haven to escape Prague's crowded centre.

Kristina Alda can be reached at kristina@praguemonitor.com

Kristina Alda is the Monitor's managing editor. She likes writing about buildings and public space.
You can reach her at kristina@praguemonitor.com. You can read more of her stories here.