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Following Alena Šrámková, the new Alfa is coming out

Former students, teachers and colleagues share their memories of the first lady of Czech architecture, who died on 10 March this year at the age of 92, in the new issue of the faculty newsletter Alfa.
© Jiří Ryszawy

The legendary professor Alena Šrámková passed away recently. An architect whose straightforward architectural thinking became a model for many in the moral revival of our profession after 1989. Both our architectural scene and our entire educational and cultural community lost an extraordinary personality in Professor Šrámková.

The Alfa Faculty Newsletter asked former students, teachers, fellow architects and friends to write a personal memoir. In the hope that there may be something more between the lines. After all, they say that God is in the details... In its totality, something like an underpainting of an architect's picture could emerge before the reader.

Shortly after the opening of the new faculty building, we invited Professor Šrámková to our ZAN studio to tell the students how she approached the design at the very beginning, how and what she thinks about, what the concept of the house means to her, in short "how she does it". The mood in the studio was serious and festive in anticipation of an architectural icon who was already over 80 years old at the time. A fresh, youthfully dressed lady in a shorter skirt came in, who – to our horror – sat down on a wobbly tabletop, swung her legs and began to tell us... Without sensing the danger of the situation – the table was immediately surrounded by students, "securing" the professor from falling – she formulated sentences that could immediately be set in stone... She masterfully connected the intellectual with the physical, the permanent with the accidental, the eternal with the present. Is this not also the essence of (hers) architecture? Michaela Brožová

Alena Šrámková, Fakulta architektury ČVUT, Praha, fasáda – auly, kresba tužkou 4B na šmírák, šíře role 35 cm, Praha, 2006 –2007

When we were discussing in the studio whether we could do something else instead of architecture, Alena Šrámková said that she could only do something where it would be possible to cross the bench, she probably could not do without it. At the time I only saw it in terms of architecture, and it was only much later that I realised that those words had a much deeper validity. If we really want to live a full life and give it meaning, we must, like her, constantly strive to cross the imaginary bench – to overcome our stereotypes, our comfort or our prejudices, and to always try something new. If we keep trying and stay proud and upright like the towers were in her pro-jects, I believe that somewhere down the line, she will keep her fingers crossed for us. Tomáš Koumar

Workshop Prague 1991. Final assembly of participants at the Castle, with Václav Havel on the podium, who initiated the whole urban planning workshop together with Miroslav Masák. Conclusions and recommendations for the future shape of Prague are discussed. I join the discussion, say something, with my hand, which is not holding the microphone, in my pocket. Alena Šrámková, sitting next to me, takes it out of my pocket. I do not remember what I said, but I still remember the quick yet discreet lesson in courtesy to a president you respect. Thank you, Professor (and not only for that)! Ivan Plicka

Newsletter Alfa 1/2022 (in Czech) can be downloaded here.

For the content of this site is responsible: Ing. arch. Katerina Rottová, Ph.D.