Friday, October 19, 2007

Say uh-oh!

No, this isn't the new home of Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po: It's the design for the new Prague National Library, and boy are the Czechs angry! The project, designed by Jan Kaplicky, was selected by a jury headed by Zaha Hadid, reigning queen of jet-setting starchitects. It's hard to tell from the CGI model, but apparently the nine-story-high library will be topped by an eye-like design, as if the building was looking over the city.

I don't mind the design actually—especially living in New York, where we're assaulted by an avalanche of cookie-cutter "luxury condos" and where zero money goes to public buildings. But I'm a bit baffled as to why it's dumped in a middle of a field, when Prague is many things but not a field. According to Le Monde the library is slated to be built on a hill near downtown. Wouldn't it be better to see the building in its urban context? I don't mean to restrict an architect's imagination, but it's hard not to sense deliberate obfuscation there.

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