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Czech industrial architecture is part of a 'globalised language'

DESIGN factory, an industrial-zone-turned-gallery in Bratislava, has recently become a true-to-style exhibition space for the presentation of Současný český industriál / Contemporary Czech Industrial. Originally exhibited in the Jaroslav Fragner Gallery in Prague, the 39 constructions depicting recent architecture connected with the production, storage and distribution of goods are presented by photographs with Czech/English text placed on stylish pallets.

Merta presented the exhibits via a lecture.(Source: Jana Liptáková)

DESIGN factory, an industrial-zone-turned-gallery in Bratislava, has recently become a true-to-style exhibition space for the presentation of Současný český industriál / Contemporary Czech Industrial. Originally exhibited in the Jaroslav Fragner Gallery in Prague, the 39 constructions depicting recent architecture connected with the production, storage and distribution of goods are presented by photographs with Czech/English text placed on stylish pallets.

“The exhibition stemmed from our dialogues with prominent Czech journalist Petr Volf focused on art and recently on architecture,” Dan Merta, head of the Jaroslav Fragner Gallery and one of the exhibition’s curators, who came to the design factory to install and present it, explained, “and after we started exploring the modern Czech architecture, we found that the industrial one can bear comparison with Western European – let’s say Swiss, Dutch or German architecture. As you might see, contemporary industrial architecture has diverted from the original, robust buildings of the 19th century, and is represented by more subtle constructions and smaller interventions.”

“We took the architecture from, let’s say, the last fifteen years, and the only criterion for selection was the quality – both the aesthetic and the technical aspect,” Merta told The Slovak Spectator. “They had to be functional buildings producing (or storing) something, but with the added value of beauty and interesting architecture, not just some plated simple prefab cabins.”

The buildings picked for the show include not just factories or store-houses but also wineries, a brewery, a bakery, a printing house, and a small hydro-power plant.

“We didn’t include engineering constructions like bridges, we rather took buildings connected with production in one way or another,” Merta continued. “Even after we found some interesting interventions or reconstructions in older buildings and included those, too, they had to be industrial spaces, and not cultural spaces reconstructed from original production rooms.”

“Today, architecture is relatively globalised,” he added. “Many people study abroad, and architecture has become a global language. It has no country specifics.”

At the opening of the exhibition, Merta gave a lecture stressing that finding an investor willing to see the added value of good architecture is crucial – and for the curators, the willingness of the investor/owner to cooperate with them was important.

“Sometimes, you can get a completely different story and the aesthetic added value for almost the same amount of money, just through adding some elements. And even this type of construction can be ‘green’, or sustainable, as I prefer to say, but it totally depends on the investor,” he said.

Asked by The Slovak Spectator why there were no large structures represented, he answered that in the category of big industrial buildings, there were simply no interesting newcomers.

After Merta, Czech architect Ivan Kroupa, whose studio made two of the buildings presented, also gave a presentation. The band Dekadent Fabrik then played to keep the mood on an industrial keel.

There is a catalogue which goes with the exhibition, containing colour photos as well as Czech and English text over 170 pages. The exhibition runs in the design factory in Bottova 2 until November 4 and can be seen on weekdays between 10:00 and 18:00 and on weekends between 13:00 and 18:00.

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