Rediscover Prague, one brutalist building at a time – the Calvert Journal

Ask most people about the rich architecture of Prague, and they’ll likely mention the Castle, the historic Charles Bridge, some of the Art Nouveau and Gothic Revival buildings, or, sometimes, faceted Cubist facades.

Few would find a picture of the brutalist Transgas complex in Prague. Built in 1978 near Wenceslas Square, the complex housed imposing blocks with long windows, covered with steel or small cobblestones. The surrounding decor has been designed to evoke gas pipelines. One of the key architects of the project, Václav Aulický, would go on to design the high-tech Žižkov TV tower in the Czech capital.

Transgas was a testament to Prague’s most forgotten Brutalist era. The Czech Republic, then part of Czechoslovakia, was under communist rule from 1948 to 1989. And while socialism altered the country’s social fabric, it also shaped its cityscapes. During these four decades, Prague experienced one of the most intense waves of development in the city’s history, driven largely by brutalist and socialist-modernist projects similar to those of the Soviet Union. Even near the main arteries of Prague, prefabricated housing estates have sprung up everywhere. These buildings still house around a quarter of all Prague residents today.

Berta D. Wells