Czech Center Builds Giant 'Airship' for Literature

by Karel Janicek, The Associated Press, September 26, 2016

PRAGUE (AP) — Is that a zeppelin on the roof?

The huge object appears to have landed on the roof of the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in the Czech capital.

The wooden and metal structure, envisioned as a home for literature, is another project of the center known for its challenging exhibitions and installations.

The center's founder and director, Leos Valka, joined forces with architect Martin Rajnis, who won the 2014 Global Award for Sustainable Architecture, to give the gallery another dimension.

"Our aim for the world of contemporary art is to spread and get partially interconnected with the world of literature," Valka said at a preview this week.

The 42-meter (138-feet) long and 10-meter (33-feet) wide ship is planned to seat 120 people on its cascade steps inside for authors' readings, performances, workshops and public debates to complement the exhibitions.

That's all to be in line with the gallery's mission "to create a space for research, presentation, and debate on important social issues, where visual arts, literature, performing arts, and other disciplines encourage a critical view of the so-called reality of today's world."

Numerous obstacles had to be overcome to get approval from authorities for the 55-metric-ton (60-ton) project.

The ship was finally qualified as a "watchtower" — a bit of absurdity which Prague native Franz Kafka might have appreciated.

The airship is named Gulliver, the hero of Jonathan Swift's classic, who visited a flying island of Laputa during his adventurous travels.

"It's a world of pure imagination," Valka said about the project. "A children's world."

"You should get an impression that some 10-12-years-old boys escaped from the houses of parents to board their makeshift aircraft and by accident crash-landed in Holesovice," the Prague district where the center is located.

"It's an elegant intruder," Valka said. "It's a concrete, fully authentic, giant object whose message is that things can be done differently."

The literature space is scheduled to open in late November or early December.


This article was written by Karel Janicek from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.