Dancing House

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Dancing House
Tančící dům
Case danzanti.jpg
Side view
Former names Fred and Ginger
General information
Address Rašínovo nábřeží 80, 120 00 Praha 2
Town or city Prague
Country Czech Republic
Coordinates Coordinates: 50°04′32″N 14°24′51″E / 50.07556°N 14.41417°E / 50.07556; 14.41417
Construction started 1992
Completed 1996
Design and construction
Architect Vlado Milunić, Frank Gehry
Windows of the Dancing House

The Dancing House (Czech: Tančící dům) or Fred and Ginger is the nickname given to the Nationale-Nederlanden building in Prague, Czech Republic, at Rašínovo nábřeží (Rašín's riverbank). It was designed by the Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunić in co-operation with Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry on a vacant riverfront plot. The building was designed in 1992 and completed in 1996.[1]

The very non-traditional design was controversial at the time because the house stands out among the Baroque, Gothic and Art Nouveau buildings for which Prague is famous and in the opinion of some it does not accord well with these architectural styles. The then Czech president, Václav Havel, who lived for decades next to the site, had avidly supported this project, hoping that the building would become a center of cultural activity.

Gehry originally named the house Fred and Ginger (after the famous dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers – the house resembles a pair of dancers)[2] but this nickname is now rarely used; moreover, Gehry himself was later "afraid to import American Hollywood kitsch to Prague",[3] and thus discarded his own idea.

Origin[edit]

The “Dancing House” is set on a property of great historical significance. Its site was the location of a house destroyed by the U.S. bombing of Prague in 1945. The plot and structure lay decrepit until 1960 when the area was cleared. The neighbouring plot was co-owned by the family of Václav Havel who spent most of his life there. As early as 1986 (during the Communist era) V. Milunić, then a respected architect in the Czechoslovak milieu, conceived an idea for a project at the place and discussed it with his neighbour, the then little-known dissident Václav Havel. A few years later, during the Velvet Revolution Havel became a popular leader and was subsequently elected president of Czechoslovakia. Thanks to his authority the idea to develop the site grew.[citation needed] Havel eventually decided to have Milunić survey the site, hoping for it to become a cultural center, although this was not the result.

The Dutch insurance company Nationale-Nederlanden (since 1991 ING Bank) agreed to sponsor the building of a house on site. The “super bank” chose Milunić as the lead designer and asked him to partner with another world-renowned architect to approach the process. The French architect Jean Nouvel turned down the idea because of the small square footage, but the well-known Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry accepted the invitation. Because of the bank's excellent financial state at the time, it was able to offer almost unlimited funding for the project.[4] From their first meeting in 1992 in Geneva, Gehry and Milunić began to elaborate Milunić's original idea of a building consisting of two parts, static and dynamic ("yin and yang"), which were to symbolize the transition of Czechoslovakia from a communist regime to a parliamentary democracy.

Structure[edit]

The style is known as deconstructivist (“new-baroque” to the designers) architecture due to its unusual shape. The “dancing” shape is supported by 99 concrete panels, each a different shape and dimension. On the top of the building is a large twisted structure of metal nicknamed Medusa.

“In the interior of a square of buildings in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the Dancing House has two central bodies. The first is a tower of glass that is close to half height and is supported by curved pillars, the second runs parallel to the river, which is characterized by the moldings that follow a wavy motion and distributed through the windows so the non-aligned.[clarification needed] This solution has been driven mainly by a kind of aesthetic consideration: the windows lined evidenciarían that the building has two windows, although they have the same height as the two adjacent buildings of the nineteenth century.[clarification needed] They also do not have to be perceived in the will of the designer, as simple forms on a flat surface, but must achieve the effect of three-dimensionality, hence the idea of frames as outgoing frames of paintings. Also the winding moldings on the facade make it more confusing perspective, diminishing the contrast with the buildings that surround it."[5]

Awards[edit]

The general shape of the building is now featured on a gold 2,000 Czech koruna coin issued by the Czech National Bank. The coin completes a series called “Ten Centuries of Architecture”.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nationale-Nederlanden Building Frank O. Gehry, The Architect's Studio. Digital catalog of the Henry Art Gallery at arcspace
  2. ^ “Dancing House in Prague – Ginger and Fred”, last modified March 26, 2012
  3. ^ Interview with V. Milunić
  4. ^ “Dancing House”, last modified March 26, 2012
  5. ^ {http://en.wikiarquitectura.com/index.php/Dancing_House “Dancing House”}, last modified March 26, 2012
  6. ^ "Ten centuries of architecture/'Present day – Dancing House in Prague'". Czech National Bank. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 

External links[edit]