Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Vinohradský Pavilon

Originally named Vinohradská tržnice (Vinohrady market hall), this handsome iron-framed building dating from 1902 was designed by Antonín Turek, who was also the architect of the Vinohrady Water Tower. It's one of three original market halls from the period to have survived in Prague. In 1994 it had the dubious honour of being gutted and remodelled to provide what was at the time a state-of-the-art shopping mall, called Pavilon (Pavilion). To my mind, although the development won various awards, the work is somewhat out of keeping with the original design, for which one gets a much better feel from outside.

Prague experienced a real boom in shopping malls and hypermarkets in the 2000s, and many of them rival anything that has gone up in the UK in recent years (actually the Birmingham Selfridges, or silver slug as I call it, was designed by a Czech architect). One reason why the Czech economy is now not doing so well was the amount of sheer credit expended on tempting new goods from these Aladdin's caves.

This sad fact was capitalized on (if I can say that) by two students from Prague's excellent Film School in a satirical documentary made in 2004. 'Český Sen' was the name of a new supermarket due to open on the outskirts of the city, after a massive advertising campaign which attracted tens of thousands to the opening. When the crowds gathered to witness the removal of the painted hoardings from the shopfront they were shocked to find that what lay behind them was ... nothing. Just a huge, empty, metal framework.  'Český Sen', in English 'Czech Dream', turned out to be nothing more than that - a dream. The film is available, on DVD, with subtitles.

3 comments:

Julie said...

Your composition draws me to the conclusion that the pavilion is symmetrical.

Hilda said...

It's amazing how much money is spent on these super malls. The same thing goes on here too. The movie sounds very interesting but I doubt if I will ever find a copy here.

Alex said...

Correct, Julie! But I thought it nicer to avoid the obvious 'full frontal', and concentrate on the caryatid. Not a caryatid, really, but such a good word.

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