Prague, April 18 (CTK) – A memorial plaque to Czech-born British architect Jan Kaplicky will be unveiled on his 80th birth anniversary on Tuesday on the facade of a Prague house, in front of which he unexpectedly died at the age of 71 in 2009.
Kaplicky has become widely known in the Czech Republic after he won an international architectonic competition for the design of a new building of the National Library in 2007. The library seat was to be built after his design, dubbed “blob” or “octopus” for its organic shapes, in Prague-Letna, but the project has never been implemented.
As it had many ardent supporters and resolute opponents at the time, the blob became a point of controversy and also a political issue.
The unveiling ceremony is to be attended by British Ambassador Jan Thompson and the architect’s widow Eliska Kaplicky Fuchsova.
Kaplicky died on the day on which his daughter Johanka was born, January 14, 2009.
Until his sudden death in the street, Kaplicky believed that the new library building would be built in his home town. It is unclear whether the dispute related to the blob and Kaplicky’s work and actions in general were among the factors that caused his death.
Kaplicky designed further buildings for the Czech Republic, including a rayfish-shaped concert hall for the south Bohemian city of Ceske Budejovice, but despite the effort exerted by Czech architect Eva Jiricna, none of them has been constructed so far.
“I would be extremely happy if some of his buildings was constructed, but it is very complicated to deal with a building after the death of the person who designed it,” Jiricna told CTK.
Kaplicky (1937-2009) left the communist Czechoslovakia for Britain after the Soviet-led invasion in 1968. He then worked for famous British architects, such as Richard Rogers and Norman Foster. In 1979, he and David Nixon established the Future Systems studio that produced mainly theoretical studies. Amanda Levete, Kaplicky’s wife then, joined the studio in 1989.
Kaplicky and Levete’s first major project in Britain was the press box at the Lord’s cricket stadium in London, which won the Stirling Prize. Another highly-acclaimed work of his studio is the Selfridges department store in Birmingham.