Joze Plecnik: His Architecture in Prague for freedom and a new democracy
El Haje, Tamim
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Between 1911 and 1935, Joze Plecnik contributed to Prague's rich cultural heritage in several areas. One of his greatest works was the renovation of the Prague Castle. Over the course of ten centuries, Hradcany formed a complex of diverse buildings, courtyards and gardens. In 1918, Prague became the nation's capital and traces of the Hapsbvurg and Austro-Hungarian monarchial neglect, even abandonment, had to be eliminated. Restoration was inevitable, is was a great opportunity to go beyond a mere repair of its structures. The restoration tumed Hradcany to the nation's symbol of freedom, dignity and culture. Tomás G. Masaryk, the first President of the Czechoslovak Republic, appointed Plecnik "The Castle Architect." Plecnik significantly understood the aesthetic spirit within the Castle and reflected it through his abstraction of classical architecture to connect all periods of art history. It is difficult to imagine how Hradcany really looked before Plecnik's arrival on the scene. His architecture penetrated deeper than merely incorporating correct proportions and detail in gently molded forms; he reflected the President's philosophical views on fireedom and democracy. Afiter Prague's 1989 Velvet Revolution, history repeated itself and the results of Plecnik's extremely sensitive understanding of democratic and humanist architecture was revived when Václav Havel spearheaded the reopening of the "Enchanted Castle." This unveiling required restorations that demanded analysis of Plecnik's approaches and his awareness of this delicate mission. The revival of Plecnik's architecture, motivated this study to expose the power of architecture in political, social, and cultural perspectives. Plecnik was able to create such architecture that incorporated philosophy manifested in stone to be a symbol for fiiture generations. This was clearly recognized by two distinct generations separated by more that seven decades.