To blob or not to blob. Minister and architect divided

Kateřina Eliášová and Naďa Straková
24. 7. 2008 17:30
Interview with architect Jan Kaplický
A fighter for Czech culture. Meet Jan Kaplický
A fighter for Czech culture. Meet Jan Kaplický | Foto: Ondřej Besperát

Prague - No "blob" will stand on Letná Plain, Culture Minister Václav Jehlička announced Wednesday. Jehlička said that the new National Library building, often dubbed the blob, designed by world renowned London-based Czech-born architect Jan Kaplický will never be built in Letná park.

In September 2007, Kaplický won the international competition with his design of the National Library that was originally meant to be built in Letná. Ever since then, the project has faced a slew of objections, debates and outright criticism, which has hindered the launch of construction.

The first vocal opponent to Kaplický´s design was Czech President Václav Klaus. He went so far as to say he would prevent the new National Library building construction even if it meant tying himself to an excavator.

Prague Mayor Pavel Bém, a Civic Democrat (ODS), reversed his position with time and also turned against the library project, despite the fact that he was among the judges who chose the winning design.

PM Mirek Topolánek (ODS) also added his voice to the growing chorus of opposition to Kaplický´s library building on the Letná Plain.

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

Culture Minister Václav Jehlička (Christian Democrat/ KDU-ČSL) defended his latest announcement arguing that there is neither place nor funds for it.

"It has not been evaluated yet whether the Klementinum library [the current seat of the National Library] has the potential to house all the materials necessary. We are also planning to create an extra depositary in Hostivař," says Minister.

"But there will be library in Letná," Kaplický insists in an interview for Aktuálně.cz. "I just don't know when," adds the architect. 

A.cz: What do you have to say to Minister Jehlička´s latest announcement? He is a member of the Christian Democratic Party, which has up to now supported the Library in Letná?

The Czech Culture Ministry is the only ministry in the world that stands against the culture of its own nation.

A.cz: Jehlička would like to focus on renovating the Klementinum. What is your opinion on this?

It's impossible to turn the Klementinum building into a modern national library. It is a rather amateurish opinion. Honestly, it made me laugh. Just ask any librarian in the smallest village in the country and she will tell you it is not possible. And even better, ask the preservationists and you will see.

The Blob is among the recent debates to have divided Czech politicians. But, says Jan Kaplický, culture should not be politicized.
The Blob is among the recent debates to have divided Czech politicians. But, says Jan Kaplický, culture should not be politicized. | Foto: Future Systems

A.cz: Do you still feel like continuing with the project after all these obstructions?

Of course. As I said, the library will stand in Letná. The Czech Republic is a free country and the election is coming soon.

A.cz: I understand what you mean - you found an ally in Jiří Paroubek…

It has nothing to do with that.

A.cz: How come? He was the one who said he would find money for your project.

We are talking about the National Library, like you have the National Museum or National Theatre. These matters cannot be politicized. It must be above politics of any nation. The Czech Republic is to preside over the European Union next year. I will make sure the Czech Republic comes across in the media as a country that fights against the culture of its own nation.

A.cz: Do you think the Czech cultural scene is controlled by politicians?

That's more than obvious.

A.cz: But you are not going to give it up because of that, right?

I don't want to give up. I want to fight for Czech culture. It is an important issue, which empowers me in a way. We are talking about Czech literary heritage here. No one has given me a clear answer yet why this situation has occurred here.

 

Právě se děje

před 11 minutami

Lyžařka Smutná skončila v dálkovém běhu v Itálii pátá

Lyžařka Kateřina Smutná doběhla pátá v závodu seriálu Ski Classics La Venosta na 34 kilometrů. Na vítěznou Norku Astrid Slindovou ztratila česká reprezentantka čtyři a půl minuty, za třetím místem zaostala o 19 sekund. Mužský závod v Itálii vyhrál Rus Jermil Vokujev, Jan Šrail obsadil 28. místo

Už v prvním stoupání nastoupila Slindová, která si na vrchařskou prémii na 11. kilometru přivezla náskok 20 sekund. V cíli měla k dobru více než tři minuty před Švédkou Brittou Norgrenovou. Boj o třetí místo ovládla další Norka Kari Gjeitnesová.

"Během závodu jsem se necítila úplně špatně, i když trať byla dost náročná. V posledních stovkách metrů mi ale totálně odešly nohy. Cítila jsem to už včera na tréninku, když jsem jela něco rychlejšího. Myslím, že v tom sehrála roli ta vysoká nadmořská výška," uvedla v tiskové zprávě eD system Bauer Teamu Smutná, která na začátku prosince doběhla v prologu v Livignu druhá.

Seriál Ski Classics bude pokračovat po Novém roce, 11. ledna se v Rakousku pojede Kaiser Maximilian Lauf.

Zdroj: ČTK
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