May 8, 2012

0198 CZECH REPUBLIC (Prague) - Dancing House

In Prague, on the corner of the embankment Rasinovo nabrezi and the street Resslova, was until WWII a house in the Neo-renaissance style, erected to the end of the 19th century. Destroyed by US Army Air Force during the raid of February 14, 1945, its remains was finally removed in 1960. The neighboring house was co-owned by Czech ex-president Vaclav Havel, who lived there from his childhood until the mid-1990s. Hoping that the building would become a center of cultural activity, he ordered the first architectural study from Zagreb-born but Prague-based architect Vlado Milunic (who has been involved in re-building Havel's appartment). Afterwards the Dutch bank ING (previously called Nationale Nederland) agreed to build a house there, and asked Milunic to invite a world-renowned architect to approach the process.

Milunic first asked the French Jean Nouvel (author of the project from Torre Agbar in Barcelona, among others), who rejected the invitation because of the small size of the site. He then asked Frank Gehry (known for Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis and Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, but also because was awarded in 1989 with the impressive Pritzker Architecture Prize), who accepted the challenge. Gehry had an almost unlimited budget, because ING wanted to create an icon in Prague. The construction started in 1994 and was finished in 1996, sparking controversy at the time for its very non-traditional shape (even if it was awarded as the Design of the year 1996 from the American Time magazine).

An example of deconstructivist architecture (even if Gehry and Milunic have described as "new Baroque"), the building reflects a woman and man (Ginger Rogers and Fred Astair) dancing together, reason for which was originally named Ginger & Fred. Its nickname, under which is known worldwide, is Dancing House, but the people of Prague often refer to the structure as "the drunk house". Construction is from 99 concrete panels each of different shape and dimension, each therefore requiring a unique wooden form. On the top of the building is a large twisted structure of metal nick named Medusa. Said Wikiarquitectura: "In the interior of a square of buildings in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the Dancing House has two central bodies. The first is a tower of glass that is close to half height and is supported by curved pillars, the second runs parallel to the river, which is characterized by the moldings that follow a wavy motion and distributed through the windows so the non-aligned."

The interior of the Dancing House was partly designed by the London architect of Czech origin Eva Jiricna. There are mostly offices in the building, so it isn’t open to public, but there is a French restaurant, Celeste, located on 7th floor, with a beautiful view over Prague.

The stamp, issued on August 30, 2011, is a commemorative one, for 2011 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Men.

sender: Margarita Savostyuk (direct swap)
sent from Tachov (Czech Republic), on 04.05.2012

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