Jan Kaplický opening at the Dancing House

The Czech architect known for his unrealized Blob library design would have turned 80 in 2017

A retrospective of work by architect Jan Kaplický will be at the Dancing House Gallery from Nov. 8, 2016, to March 12, 2017. The exhibition, called JKOK, will present some previously unseen works along with projects from across his career. The exhibits come from his estate archive. Kaplický died in 2009.

“We decided to have the JKOK exhibition on an important anniversary for Jan Kaplický. In 2017 this outstanding Czech architect would have celebrated his 80th birthday,” Robert Vůjtek, director of the Dancing House Gallery (Galerie Tančící dům), said in a press release.

The exhibition is divided into three parts. The first shows the Kaplický's iconic works and proposals, such as the 2007 model for the National Library, also known as the Blob or the Octopus. The second part presents the architect's roots and sources of inspiration. His mother was an illustrator, and his father was a sculptor and architect. The third section deals with his creative process, his various phases and the visionary moments of his work. His designs for futuristic vehicles including spaceships will be shown.

“Jan Kaplický was an architect, designer and artist. His work bears witness to the present but shows an extraordinary gaze toward the future,” said fellow architect Eva Jiřičná, who realized the exhibition with studio AI-Design and the Kaplicky Centre.

Curator Ladislav Zikmund-Lender said the exhibition will show Kaplický not only as a unique visionary, but also as a designer of jewelry, tableware and fashion, and as an environmentally responsible architect. “Visitors will be able to peek under the hood of his original work process and examine his different creative phases,” Zikmund-Lender said.

Kaplický was born April 18, 1937, and grew up in Prague's Ořechovka neighborhood. He studied at the College of Applied Arts and Architecture and Design (VŠUP) in Prague, but went to London in 1968 after the Soviet-led invasion crushed the Prague Spring. In 1979 Kaplický set up his own architectural think tank called Future Systems with David Nixon.

Significant projects he worked on include the Selfridges Building in Birmingham, England, and the media center of Lord's Cricket Ground in London.

Early projects included being on the team that designed the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

His most controversial project was the National Library for Prague's Letná plain. The futuristic design won a public competition but the public outcry against the blob-shaped building was so strong that the project was canceled in 2008. Kaplický died a few months later, still hoping the project could eventually be realized.

A very small scale version of it was built in Brno as a bus stop, and video mapping of it took place on a circus tent in Letná in 2015.

The JKOK exhibition is sponsored by Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová.

Video on YouTube

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