The BEST architecture of 1989

SKMBT_C224e15112510470-1Karel Hubáček is an icon of Czech postmodernism; his House of Culture is the best piece of modern architecture in Teplice.

When an architect is awarded the Perret Prize it is like a film director winning an Oscar. It is a peak that is hard to reach again. Luckily, Karel Hubáček is not just the creator of one work. The Liberec transmitter and hotel on Ještěd may be a taster, but the designer of them managed to create other innovative – and much respected – works as well. One such work, which won the main prize at the Interarch World Biennale in Sofia in 1989, is the House of Culture in Teplice.

Hubáček was not exactly to the regime’s liking during the tough period of normalisation. So, he was not allowed to officially participate in designing the ambitious building and he only took part in the construction, which took place from 1977 to 1986, as an architect’s supervisor. Still, we are able to notice his style: economical expression, cooperation with visual artists and perfect subordination to functionality (in this case to the tuned acoustics of the concert hall).

Hubáček’s SIAL studio has left more of a mark in the spa town than just a concert hall and cinema. Next to the Šanov II housing estate, where the well-thought-out town planning concept is noticeable even after decades have passed, engineers from Liberec redesigned the area of the former Jewish ghetto, today Peace Square (Mírové náměstí). A number of the buildings recently fell victim to the construction of the Fontána shopping centre.

In Teplice, which is rather lacking in modern architecture, the House of Culture is an exceptional reminder of the fact that it is possible to build in a high quality, inventive and aesthetic way by means of modern methods and in a modern manner. The fact that virtually none of the best architecture in Teplice was built due to town planning, but as a result of architectural competitions, is also worth remembering. The fact that no such competition has been announced in the town for a long time is, regrettably, symptomatic of the architectural situation today.

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