Take a rare peek inside over 70 buildings this weekend at the Open House Prague festival

Modern and historical buildings will be open to the public, with many participating for the first time

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 31.08.2020 16:16 (updated on 31.08.2020)

The sixth year of the Open House Prague 2020 festival will take place on the weekend of September 5–6. More than 70 buildings throughout 10 districts in Prague will be accessible free of charge and without reservations, from historical or industrial monuments to modern office or residential buildings and premises.

An accompanying program of one-off events starts already on September 1, and online reservations are needed for some of these due to limited space. On the same date a festival information center will open in the Radost buiding in Žižkov, where it will be possible to buy a printed guide.

The motto of this year’s festival is architecture for all. Most guided tours are in Czech. Some tours will be in English when an English-speaking guide is available and there is a large enough group. There are also some tours for people with visual or auditory impairments. For children, there is a Lego workshop in the Radost building and special tours in eight buildings.

All tours will be of limited size to conform to the current safety guidelines. Guides are volunteers, and people can still offer to help.

Of the more than 70 buildings and spaces, 30 are joining Open House Praha for the first time this year. “We recommend the opportunity to visit buildings outside the center such as Staré Ďáblice, Strašnice or Nusle, where we tried to create pleasant walking circuits within the program,” festival director Andrea Šenkyříková said.

In Nusle, visitors can look forward to the Nusle Town Hall, the Nusle Brewery complex, the Na Fidlovačce Theater, and the former Palace of Culture, now the Prague Congress Center.

Funeral architecture is also a traditional theme. “We try to bring people to places with strong stories. Thanks to guided tours of cemeteries, tombs, and crematoriums, we have the opportunity to recall the intricate past of our country and better anchor our current existence,” Šenkyříková said.

Kovařovicova vila
Kovařovicova vila / via Raymond Johnston

The normally inaccessible premises of the former slaughterhouses, stables, cellars, and water tower, built at the end of the 19th century, will be open in Prague Market (Pražská tržnice). In Výstaviště people can see the Small Sports Hall (Malá Sportovní Hala), the pool, and the Spiral Theater. The Braasi Factory workshop in Holešovice and the Machine House office in Karlín represent successful conversions of technical buildings.

TEACHER PROFILES

Among the new buildings, the festival will show, for example, the Prachnerova residential housing project, nominated for the Czech Architecture Award, and the ČSOB Campus in Radlice, an example of eco-friendly architecture.

Also this year, the program will include design office space. Visitors can see several coworking centers and design offices such as HubHub in the functionalist palace ARA, Sněmovní 7, and NN IT Hub in Smíchov, which boasts the title Most Attractive Offices 2019 from the Art of Space Awards. The creative agency DDB Prague will also open its headquarters, and its premises won the Office of the 21st Century award.

The public’s attention is increasingly attracted by buildings used for community events such as Kasárna Karlín, Jatka78, Pragovka and others. The program also includes buildings where multifunctional civic use is planned for the future, such as the former Krenovka inn in Žižkov and the Orionka depot.

The festival will commemorate several important anniversaries this year. On the occasion of the 140th anniversary of the birth of architect Josef Chochol, visitors can look at cubist-style Kovařovicova vila on Rašínovo nábřeží. It will also be possible to look into the headquarters of the Vyšehrad National Cultural Monument (NKP) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the NKP.

It is also 175 years since the arrival of the first train in Prague and since the opening of Masarykovo nádraží. The area of today’s Prague Market celebrates the 125th anniversary of its establishment.

The accompanying program starts September 1 at 4 pm with a concert by Vážný zájem in the Cubist garden of Kovařovicova vila. The musicians will perform twice more, in the Braasi Factory workshop in Holešovice and in the Radost building in Žižkov.

Roof of Dům Radost. via Raymond Johnston
Roof of Dům Radost. via Raymond Johnston

Prague Crossroads once again inspired the dancer Jitka Čechová from the Pulsar group, who will perform on September 1 from 7 pm in a short solo performance with live music. More events are planned on subsequent days. Information on all events of the accompanying program and the possibilities of their reservation are available online.

Open House Praha is part of the international network of Open House Worldwide festivals, which take place in 46 cities around the world. The first worldwide Open House Global online event will take place on November 14–15, 2020.

More information is available on the festival website and Facebook page. Note also that not all of the participating buildings allow photography inside.