How to take great architecture photos
Follow these tips from Oriol Campuzano, a professional photographer specialising in architecture, and take home a stunning memento of your next trip. While you're at it, you'll not only learn how to look at cities differently. You'll understand them better as well!more info
Contemporary Architecture in Prague
Practically the whole of 20th-century architecture is represented in Prague’s urban fabric. Even today you can admire examples of major achievements in the various styles that emerged over the last century. Here at My Vueling City we have prepared an introduction to these styles, as embodied in some of the city’s most emblematic buildings.
Among other things, Modernism was born of a desire to harmoniously depict “a total artwork”. One of the most prominent illustrations of this in the Czech capital is Villa Bílek. The sculptor, graphic artist and illustrator František Bílek (1872–1941) – together with Alfons Mucha – was one of the leading exponents of Czech Art Nouveau. This studio and residential villa, located near Prague Castle, was built in 1911. It was designed as a backdrop to reflect a field of grain – indeed, many of its details give form to this idea. For instance, the columns are stylised sheaves of wheat. The villa now houses a permanent exhibition on František Bílek.
Cubist architecture took hold solely in Czechoslovakia. In this style, artistic value prevails over practicality, which often ends up tending to an exercise in style. At any rate, well worth the visit is the House of the Black Madonna or Dům u Černé Matky Boží, designed by the acclaimed Czech architect, Josef Gočár. Design enthusiasts will be pleased to learn that this is the site of the Museum of Decorative Arts, featuring furniture, ceramics, posters, publicity graphics and other select works by the Cubist painter, Emil Filla, and Josef Čapek. There is also an exhibition of Czech Cubism which runs until 31 December 2017. And, there’s more – the building also houses the Grand Café Orient, the only Cubist café in the world.
Functionalism is an architectural principle by which the form of a building is derived from its function. It was the essence of modernity as opposed to traditionalism. The best example of this in Prague is the Villa Müller, designed by Adolf Loos and Karel Lhota for the owner of a construction company, František Müller. In this villa, built from 1928 to 1930, Loos applied both functionalist ideas and the Raumplan theory – instead of dividing available space into different levels or storeys, it is distributed in “cubes”. The latter are arranged so that each room is interspersed on different levels. The building belongs to the City of Prague Museum and the interior still features the original furniture and fixtures. There is also a small exhibition on the life of Adolf Loos.
Functionalism inadvertently created a kind of transition towards post-war Soviet realism. Prague was happily spared from being disfigured by the Communist regime and subsequent Soviet domination. It is not so long ago that half of Europe still lived under a Communist regime dominated by the USSR. Prague was one of the most important cities on the other side of the iron curtain, and it was there that the leading Soviet architects of the time were active – their work can still be admired today. It may not be one of the most widely applauded styles in the history of architecture, but it impresses in that it clearly fulfilled its mandate, becoming an identity trait for a whole era.
Socialist realism architecture tended to be monumental, historicist, symmetrical, decorative and studded with references to Stalinism. The most famous building from that period is the Hotel International Prague, in the Letná district, put up under the direction of the government of the time. Like Warsaw’s Palace of Culture and Science, it was a small-scale copy of seven similar, monumental buildings in Moscow. Completed in 1954, the building with the tallest tower is 16 storeys or 88 metres high.
Independence – Contemporary Architecture
Despite Prague regaining its freedom after the fall of the Communist Bloc, this did not prompt an architectural revival in the city. It did, however, spark a marshalling of valuable resources to restore the city’s historical areas and renovate its residential districts. The most internationally acclaimed achievement of recent times is held to be the celebrated Dancing House – also known as Ginger & Fred for its silhouette, which evokes the two dancers of Hollywood fame. Designed by Vlado Milunič, a native of Prague, and the American Frank Gehry, it initially stirred up considerable controversy due to its placement among Baroque, Gothic and Art Nouveau buildings, seriously rupturing the area’s urban profile. It now contains an art gallery, a bar, a restaurant and a hotel.
This, then, is My Vueling City‘s review of Prague’s most prominent architectural landmarks from the 20th century. We expect you to be surprised by them when you visit the city. Check out our flights here.
Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUISmore info
Rotterdam – the Finest Showcase of Contemporary Architecture
Situated in western Holland, on the final stretch of the river Meuse, the modernity breathed by Rotterdam is stunning, far removed from the usual image we have of European cities. Don’t expect to find a typical historic city centre, with a jumbled network of backstreets and time-worn buildings storied with its historical past. The city layout and its tall buildings are more reminiscent of New York’s Manhattan than other Dutch cities like Amsterdam or Utrecht.
The Bombing Raids and Nazi Occupation
The reason for this peculiarity – so to speak – goes back to the Second World War. On 14 May 1940, in a desperate attempt to secure the surrender of Rotterdam, the German air force bombarded the city to such an extent that hardly any building was left standing in the city centre. The air raids destroyed over 24,000 homes and led to the loss of around 800 lives.
Rising from the Ashes
After the city was liberated from the Nazis, unlike other European cities that set about restoring their historic centres as best they could, Rotterdam elected to start from scratch. In this respect, they did not hesitate to adopt the latest building trends, as evinced in every corner of the city. Herein lies Rotterdam’s chief appeal – a host of contemporary architectural discourses coexisting in harmony.
The Standout Features
As Rotterdam has a lot of architecture worth viewing, and one does not always have enough time to see it all, here is a selection of the major landmarks in the city:
The Erasmus Bridge – or Erasmusbrug – which connects the north and south parts of the city, is the work of Ben Van Berkel. Inaugurated in 1996, this imposing structure over the river Meuse has become a well-known landmark.
Near one end of the bridge are two emblematic buildings which can’t fail to attract one’s attention. One is the KPN Telecom Building, designed by Renzo Piano, one facade of which leans slightly towards the city. It is studded with green lights that generate different figures or messages. Just behind it stands “De Rotterdam”, a huge complex consisting of three inter-connected towers. Designed by Rem Koolhaas, it was inaugurated in 2013.
Another icon of Rotterdam, although of a much smaller size, are the Cube Houses (Kubuswoning), designed by the architect, Piet Blom. The original structure of these houses is the result of tilting the cubes 45 degrees and setting them on hexagonal pillars. The set of houses, made up of 32 cubes, has an unusual forest-like appearance. For those curious to see what they look like inside, there is one open to visitors.
The Kuntshal cultural centre, designed by Rem Koolhaas, is well worth seeing, both for the building itself and the collections it houses. The ample, 3,300 m2, of available space enables five exhibitions to be hosted in parallel. While it lacks its own, or a permanent, exhibition, it does act as an expositor for the latest trends in contemporary art.
The Central Library exterior, with its huge pipes painted in bright colours, is reminiscent of the Pompidou Centre in Paris, which provided the Van den Broek studio with the necessary inspiration to design this building. Opened in 1983, it is Holland’s largest public library. A quaint detail is the giant chess board inside.
The dazzling red covering the spectacular structure of the New Luxor Theatre is the first thing that catches one’s eye when approaching it. Opened in 2001, it is the work of the Australian architect, Peter Wilson. There are guided visits of the theatre interior and, for those of you who visit on your own, don’t miss the views to be had on the roof terrace.
The outstanding feature of Rotterdam Central (Centraal Station) is the entrance ceiling – shaped like a boomerang, it is made of stainless steel and covered in red-cedar panelling. Three teams of architects were commissioned to undertake the recent extension and remodelling project, namely Benthem Crouwel Architects, MVSA Meyer en Van Schooten Architecten and West 8.
Don’t miss out on one of Europe’s finest showcases of contemporary architecture – treat yourself to a Vueling, here.
Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicaciónmore info