Land issue behind the National Library blob project

Kateřina Eliášová
15. 9. 2008 13:46
Land promised by Prague authority was not provided
Every small kid knows Jan Kaplický's design by now
Every small kid knows Jan Kaplický's design by now | Foto: Future Systems

Prague - The land issue seems to have been the major reason why the National Library´s director Vlastimil Ježek was fired.

This transpires in an internal newsletter of the Culture Ministry Aktuálně.cz has available.

"The National Library did not obtain any contracting documents that would imply a duty for the Prague authority to ensure the land lot for the library," states the document.

Read more: PM Topolánek anticipates Letná blob will not be built

In his interview with Aktuálně.cz, Vlastimil Ježek admitted that he sees the absence of a binding agreement with the Prague municipality as the weakest spot of the whole project as well as his personal failure.

"I made a large mistake when trusting the Prague officials. If I knew then what I know now, we would not have held the competition at all," Ježek said.

However, Ježek seems to have a solution now. An unknown landowner has offered him a different lot to use for building the National Library.

Read more: To blob or not to blob. Minister and architect divided

Initial enthusiasm

From the very moment Jan Kaplický won the international architecture competition for the new National Library building design, Prague's Civic Democrats declared a war on his project.

In March 2006, Prague authority gave a preliminary consent to selling the Letná plot, promising to sign a "contract on future contract" ith the National Library. It was agreed that the purchase contract would be signed only after the National Library is granted a construction permit and proves it has finances to realize the project.

At that time Prague's Mayor Pavel Bém promised the city authority would help Ježek in all possible ways. "It is wonderful that such a strong personality as Vlastimil Ježek is stands behind the National Library project. I am looking forward to the first construction works of the library," said Pavel Bém in September 2006.

Sudden twist

However, the project eventually stalled. First, President Václav Klaus stated that he would protest against the building by tying himself to an excavator.

Subsequently, head of Civic Democratic members of the Prague municipality Pavel Žďárský made a public statement he would do anything to prevent the project from realization. Even Pavel Bém reversed his originally positive attitude towards the Kaplický´ design and eventually became its opponent.

The problem was that the contract on future contract was a key issue for piling up the project documentation, which would indicate the project costs, and for obtaining the construction permit.

The conflict between Bém and Ježek got very sharp edges and Ježek threatened to file a complaint against the Prague authorities.

Now Pavel Bém has a new director in place and it looks like he will not fight for the library so ardently as Vlastimil Ježek did.

Read more: National Library to fight for blob in court


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