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Rath wants Kaplický library for university

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David Rath, governor of the Central Bohemian region, wants to make use of Kaplický’s National Library project.

An airplane is landing at Prague airport and passes over the blob-shaped library designed by Jan Kaplický. It is the centre of a new university town of the South Bohemian Royal University.

Two years after the competition, the ambitious National Library design has become a pre-election campaign tool for the ČSSD. But it is difficult to carry out because the library no longer has the rights to the blob.

“If you could see the blob from an airplane, it could welcome tourists in Prague. It could become a natural centre for the new campus of the Central Bohemian University,” said regional governor David Rath (ČSSD).

Whatever it is
And the blob doesn’t even have to end up housing the National Library. “It could be a congress centre or the library of the Royal University,” says the governor. He wants to transform his ideas into reality when the ČSSD wins the elections. On Sunday, Jiří Paroubek revived the blob issue. The architect’s widow, Eliška Kaplicky Fuchsová, did not want to comment on the plans.

The Social Democrats nevertheless believe that the library will attract Prague voters. The ČSSD has always traditionally lost the election in Prague. The ČSSD leader knows that very well. In an interview with HN, he identified the library as a weak spot of the Prague ODS. The same goes for the City Hall’s subsidies for theatres. “These are things that had a negative impact in liberal Prague,” says Paroubek. But the project itself seems to be dead.

Kaplický died a week before he was supposed to decide with his ex-wife Amanda, who is the co-owner of his studio Future Systems, on how to divide the studio. According to sources close to Kaplický, the architect was to retain the Czech project, the brand and a team of about 10 young architects.

Amanda Levet was to get projects abroad, rights to architectural awards and the space of the studio. Because of the planned agreement, after Kaplický’s death it was assumed that the rights to the National Library design would be transferred to his wife Eliška. But the National Library is now negotiating with Amanda because the division of the studio never ended up taking place.

Several days ago, moreover, it was exactly two years since the architectural competition results were announced, and Kaplický would get the cash prize for the winning because construction hadn’t begun yet. The prize, which is the equivalent of CZK 4.5 million, should be transferred to the account of Future systems within a matter of days. The state spent another CZK 25 million on the competition.

According to media reports, Levet is offering to sell the Czech Kaplický projects, but Rath isn’t considering buying them.

Ruzyně airport? Hardly
According to former National Library head Vlastimil Ježek, it wouldn’t be suitable for the library to stand anywhere else besides Letná. “It was designed for that place. It is in harmony with the nearby park and the shape is derived from the fact that is stands on a hill,” says Ježek.

Kaplický wasn’t planning to just build the National Library. In České Budějovice, they want to build a concert hall, dubbed the stingray, based on a design by Kaplický. The development company Resort living is also planning to construct two buildings based on Kaplický’s design. They are supposed to stand near the Jarkovický pond at Konopiště and will house a villa and club called Volavka.

The library was meant to be a stunning seven-storey building with an automated system for dispensing books. According to the design, it was to include 1,200 study spots and house 10 million books. The automated system would be able to search out a book within 5 minutes.

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