Frank Gehry's "Ginger and Fred" building in Prague: Playfully Postmodern or Seriously Post-Apocalyptic?
This is one of the most revolutionary buildings in Prague and well worth a visit.
Dancing House (Czech: Tančící dům) is the nickname given to an office building in downtown Prague, Czech Republic at Rašínovo nábřeží 80, 120 00 Praha 2. It was designed by Croatian-born Czech architect Vlado Milunić in co-operation with Canadian architect Frank Gehry on a vacant river front plot (where the previous building had been destroyed during the Bombing of Prague in 1945). The construction started in 1994 and was finished in 1996. The very non-traditional design was controversial at the time. Czech president Václav Havel, who lived for decades next to the site, had supported it, hoping that the building would become a centreof cultural activity. Originally named Fred and Ginger (after Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - the house vaguely resembles a pair of dancers) the house stands out among the Neo-Baroque, Neo-Gothic and Art Nouveau buildings for which Prague is famous (Wikipedia).
Gehry used his customary contextual approach in looking for clues to guide this design, in collaboration with Studio Vlado Milunic, of a modest speculative office building. Situated along the River Vltava in a historic district where new construction is strictly regulated, the building is prominently located on a corner across from a public square and a major bridge. The location and Gehry's observations of Prague's “implied towers” and the architectural detail that adorns its buildings were decisive factors in his design.
The fluidity of the river front facade smooths the transition between its seven stories and the five stories of neighbouring buildings. Moving up and down and projecting away from the facade, the windows take on a distinctive presence in a manner first seen in the original 1977–78 renovation of the Gehry Residence in Santa Monica. Striated patterning further enhances the rhythmic effect across the concrete surface.
The “body language” of the two towers earned the building its nickname, “Fred and Ginger,” after dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Resting lightly atop slender animated columns, the glass-clad tower—its pinched waist minimizing obstructions to the river view from the adjacent building—leans in toward the cylindrical tower. Urbanistically, the towers play the important role of anchoring the public square and forging a connection to the bridge.
A fascinating essay entitled Frank Gehry's “Ginger and Fred” in Prague by Josef Pesch appeared in KUNST & KULTUR 4.5 (Juni/Juli/August 1997): p. 14-17. Or look at the online version. [lava.ds.arch.tue.nl]
Dancing House (Tančící dům)
Rašínovo nábřeží 80
120 00 Praha 2 (Prague)
The house is located on the corner of the embankment Rasinovo nabrezi and the street Resslova, within walking distance from the underground station Karlovo namesti. The house is used as an office building and it is not open to public. A restaurant on the building's seventh floor, “The Pearl of Prague” affords lovely views of the Vltava River and the rest of Prague.
Here is Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers who inspired the building with fred singing Dancing cheek to cheek [video.google.com].
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