Frank Gehry's "Ginger and Fred" building in Prague: Playfully Postmodern or Seriously Post-Apocalyptic?

by Charles Stirton August. 24, 2007 39832 views

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]

Location details:
Dancing House (Tančící dům)
Rašínovo nábřeží 80
120 00 Praha 2 (Prague)
Czech Republic

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.

Video

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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There are 17 comments, add yours!
Viktorija 10 years ago

I have a postcard on my desk with this building. And I was always wondering - is this building real or just a fiction. Now I know (thanks to you) and like this building even more.

10 years ago Edited
Stormfish 10 years ago

nightmare at elm st.

10 years ago Edited
Charles Stirton 10 years, 1 month ago

Thanks for all your thoughtful comments. Gehry is quite provocative in his designs and obviously provokes intense emotional responses to viewers. I was very interested in your comments [b]Flipado[/b]. I had not heard of the Portuguese architect ÀLVARO SIZA VIEIRA and his church at MARCO DE CANAVEZES. I did some research on him and was intrigued by his approach to architecture. He says: [i]"Architecture is increasingly a problem of use and reference to models... My architecture does not have a pre-established language and does not establish a language. It is a response to a concrete problem, a situation in transformation in which I participate."[/i] It made me think a bit about how we approach photography and how we present our work.
Anyone interested to learn more about [b]Alavaro Siza[/b] [url=http://architect.architecture.sk/alvaro-siza-architect/alvaro-siza-architect.php]look at a website about him[/url].

10 years, 1 month ago Edited
Carley 10 years, 1 month ago

Your shots are amazing. I love the ones with the reflections in the windows. Looking at the building makes me dizzy!

10 years, 1 month ago Edited
Tim 10 years, 1 month ago

This is teh king of buliding that make u step on teh pavement,,it is amazing, and u captured it really well, ty for showing us :)

10 years, 1 month ago Edited
Txerra Cirbian 10 years, 1 month ago

Molt maques... jo m'hagués parat a la 6... (I would had stopped in the sixth, but they are very beautiful)

10 years, 1 month ago Edited
Rodolphe Eneida 10 years, 1 month ago

This guy is amazing. From LA, Lisbao, NYC, Paris and Praha it is always stunning.

Superb set

10 years, 1 month ago Edited
Charles Stirton 10 years, 1 month ago

[b]Vollenda[/b] sums it up well. This building does seem an anachronism in Prague, but then so did the cubist buildings, the art nouveax, the art deco, the .... before them. That is what makes Prague so special. It usually has enough of each style to make it a fascinating place architecturally. I plan to show in future blogs how modern design in Prague is being integrated more seamlessly.

10 years, 1 month ago Edited
Lisa 10 years, 1 month ago

Fantastic set! I find that with Gehry's work, you either love it or you hate it. I like his work but I think storytaylor is right in that he doesn't seem concerned with how the building fits in it's environment sometimes. But they certainly are fun to photograph!

10 years, 1 month ago Edited
Michelle 10 years, 1 month ago

What an interesting building!

10 years, 1 month ago Edited
Storytaylor 10 years, 1 month ago

Frank Gehry lives his Second Life right here. the photos are really good, but the building is another story. I´m not a fan of FG work, the man is very stressful and without respect about the "place". good work Seven.

10 years, 1 month ago Edited
Makai Dunne 10 years, 1 month ago

Interesting building! I like the last one where the very classical style building is shown attatched to the other one.

10 years, 1 month ago Edited
Lovely 10 years, 1 month ago

Fantastic Building!. I love number four.

10 years, 1 month ago Edited
Magpy 10 years, 1 month ago

what a neat building! I really like the third shot

10 years, 1 month ago Edited
Charles Stirton 10 years, 1 month ago

I have been watching the World Athletics Championships Marathon and it is very late now so, with eyes scarcely open and the race not yet over, I think I am agreeing with Silke and Dave that maybe my svicova in Prague was spiked!

10 years, 1 month ago Edited
K C Ng 10 years, 1 month ago

Very special building, nice shots!!

10 years, 1 month ago Edited
Silke 10 years, 1 month ago

Ok - came just from a party - it`s 00.30 o`clock - Have I drunk too much or are the houses agley??

;-))

10 years, 1 month ago Edited
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