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An exhibition prepared by our historians reveals how improvisation was carried out in the era of late normalisation

The architects and builders used half-round ceramic pipes for the chimneys in the Chodov metro station. The blue tiles at the kindergarten in Letná were originally intended for swimming pools. If an architect wanted to enforce his own idea in the ailing economy and the timelessness of normalization, creative transformation of everything available and bending the rules became his daily bread.
Mateřská škola na Letné | © soukromý archiv Vladimíra Štulce a Jana Vrany

The exhibition, eloquently titled Improvisation, bears witness to the fierce struggle between architects and builders during the late normalisation period. The exhibition will be on display at the Mimochodem Gallery (in the subway underpass at Palackého náměstí) from 11. 11. to 1. 12. 2021, and was realized by architectural historians led by Professor Petr Vorlík.

Who would have thought today that the lining of the walls in the Chodov metro station (formerly Budovatelů) consists of longitudinally bisected ceramic pipes, which are manufactured for the construction of chimneys? They were made in the West Bohemian Ceramic Works in Poštorná and there are about 12,000 of them in the Chodov metro station. The resulting original look of the station, however, required much higher precision in laying, because each pipe had to be calibrated. Even the blue tile façade of the kindergarten in Prague 7 was not common in the 1980s. The tiles were obtained through the acquaintance of architects Vladimír Štulc and Jan Vrana in Chlumčany, where they were made for the guide strips at the bottom of the pools. The architects' acquaintance then had to hide the tiles for two years before the rough construction was ready for tiling. "The whole time we were terrified someone would steal it," the architects recall.

"The exhibition presents practices and manifestations that today may seem like DIY and a desperate battle with the cumbersome moloch of centrally controlled construction, but the results of constant improvisation imposed by circumstances deserve our attention," says one of its authors, Prof. Petr Vorlík, about its significance. Together with the catalogue, the exhibition is loosely linked to three previous books on the architecture of the 1980s – (a)typ  (2019), nepostavená (2020) and rozhovory (2020). A separate website, architektura80.cz, is also being created on the topic of 1980s architecture, where a specialised map and database of 1980s architecture can be found.

The exhibition was created with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and the Faculty of Architecture of the CTU in Prague as an output of the project Architecture of the 1980s in the Czech Republic (NAKI II – DG18P02OVV013).

Concept: Petr Vorlík, Jan Zikmund
Texts: Klára Brůhová, Jana Bukačová, Lenka Kužvartová, Klára Ullmannová, Veronika Vicherková, Petr Vorlík, Jan Zikmund
Graphic design and production: Jan Forejt, Jiří Klíma, Gabriel Fragner / Formall

For the content of this site is responsible: doc. Ing. arch. Jan Jakub Tesař, Ph.D.