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MfD: Prague has new iconic building, but it is tunnel

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Prague, Sept 19 (CTK) – Prague has a new iconic building, which is not a cathedral, but a tunnel, while it still lacks an extraordinary modern buildings with some spiritual and cultural dimensions, Pavel Svec writes in daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) out on Saturday.

He comments on the opening of the 6-km-long Blanka tunnel the construction of which lasted eight years and cost 43 billion crowns.

The spacious, colourful and richly lit tunnel complex, generous in all aspects, is now a jewel among transport construction projects in Europe if not in the whole world, Svec writes.

Regardless of the enormous sum it has cost as well as political and construction excesses that accompanied it, Blanka shows that Prague is able to take care of unbelievably generous and modern transport buildings, very interesting from the purely architectonic viewpoint.

New metro stations, the tram line to Barrandov and the new Troja bridge are other pieces of evidence, though sometimes maybe useless, Svec writes.

However, he says, Prague still lacks a significant investment in a modern building that would have spiritual dimensions as well.

In this respect, he reminds of the scrapped project of the new National Library building dubbed “octopus,” designed by the late Jan Kaplicky.

Prague could have built ten such libraries for the price of the Blanka tunnel, or it could have a new modern concert hall that has been debated for decades, or a gallery the construction of which is also being planned, but only planned, he adds.

Elsewhere in the world, such buildings are perceived as symbolic works that demonstrate the technological and creative development of mankind. They are viewed as icons that determine the identity of a city and of the whole society, Svec says.

Renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano even considers them “the cathedrals of Sunday” since they are the places of communality and confrontation where people, at the time of social networks, jointly experience the hopes and discrepancies of our era, Svec points out.

This is why Oslo, the capital of Norway, decided to build its majestic Opera on the shore seven years ago and Paris completed the Fondation Louis Vuitton magic cultural centre last year.

Prague has nothing like that. It has become a world city only thanks to its construction projects for cars and trains. They are undoubtedly needed for comfortable travelling across the city, but is it not too little? Svec says.

“Is it not high time for a 25-year-old free na quite rich society to make a positive gesture and show that cultural dimensions are becoming the centre of our attention instead of megalomaniac transport structures?” he asks.

This time came quite a long time ago and it is shameful that Prague is lagging behind the world in this aspect, Svec writes.

He recalls that between the world wars, Czech architecture had a great reputation and its creators were in the European lead. Prague and other Czech towns were considers the “meccas of avant-garde architecture.”

Then totalitarian and authoritarian regimes came and top-quality Czech buildings, except for some rare examples, disappeared from the map of Europe. It is a pity that we are returning there exactly with these tunnels, Svec writes in conclusion.

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