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The Czech National Library and Archive, Prague, Czech Republic

Monday 20 Oct 2008

Award refused amidst Future Systems split

Copyright Future Systems 
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Czech Library design award refused by Kaplicky amidst Future Systems separation 

The husband and wife partnership of Jan Kaplicky and Amanda Levete, being dubbed as the parents of ‘blob architecture’, has for 20 years been considered revolutionary in the context of their firm, Future Systems. But now, following the couple's separation after 15 year of marriage, the pair have extended this divide into business pointing to what some are calling, the end of an era.

Today, Czech press agency Ceske Noviny are reporting that what could have been regarded as a defining triumph for the firm, the awarding of an annual award in the plastic arts and architecture category by the Czech Culture Ministry, has turned into a bone of contention as Kaplicky has refused the award for his Czech National Library (NK) design.

Future Systems won the design competition for the new library design last year with a colourful, curvaceous structure which is designed with an anodised aluminium tiled skin and commonly referred to as ‘Octopus’. Kaplicky’s award snub comes following strong disagreements with the Culture Minister Vaclav Jehlicka who dismissed the head of NK following the competition last year stating that the competition was not in accordance with the law.

Opposition to Kaplicky’s design is still strong in Prague with the Czech Prime Minister adding his disapproval and the Culture Minister is reporting that they are looking into using the existing library site with an added annex, according to Czech news site Aktualne.

If the build is allowed to complete, in 2011 Prague will be host to one of the most modern libraries in the world with an automated book storage and retrieval system, comfortable and colourful reading rooms and a viewing platform at its top level. The denial of this would signify a marked retreat from modern architecture in the popular tourist city.

Niki May Young
News Editor

Key Facts

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Future Systems

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