PATHS TO THE DANCING HOUSE

PATHS TO THE DANCING HOUSE

My street photography snaps in Prague were unintentionally architecture-focused, probably because there's simply so much to take in and observe. This city's architecture was undeniably the most polished and intricately romantic of all the places we visited. Everywhere you looked, there were tiny details - the busts of notable Czech figures mounted on random building walls, David Cerny sculptures dotting the streets, Art Nouveau flourishes accenting the buildings, spires pointed to the sky and buildings upon buildings with identical windows so regular it's ridiculous to imagine they were all designed and created by hand, probably centuries ago.

I have to give a special shoutout to Vladimir from Prague Foodies, who gave one of the best food tours I've experienced and took us into the secret hidden paths between buildings that have only recently been re-opened and marked out in Czech (usually only for locals). There's nothing that quite encapsulates the feeling of mystery and layering than finding an old Gothic style church in a hidden alleyway.  

Next to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, the Dancing House has been one of my favourite Gehry works for a long time. Seeing it in person - a little dusty and weather-worn - was an interesting lesson in architecture as a form of art. We isolate and protect gallery-hung paintings and sculptures from the elements, preserving it in its original state as much as possible, but architecture cannot escape the demands of functionality and its context, and so evolves differently.

What was striking was seeing a sign advertising empty office space for lease in the glass window at the base of the house. It really hadn't occurred to me that the building could be used for such mundane things as a regular office space, but it is, even as the building is also partly sustained by its reputation as a tourist attraction (and a surprisingly neglected one at that). Close up, the details like the slightly crooked windows and sweeping arches of its glass and concrete pillars jump out at you and, at sunset, you can see the oil painting clouds of summer reflected in the glass.

Walk into Old Town and the magic deepens - every narrow alleyway you look down is sketchbook-like and diverse, with high arches suspended overhead, all the buildings stacking on top of each other. Here is a city that I imagine would only get more gorgeous in snowfall, with wintery mist emphasising the layers. I had to impose a limit on how many alleyways I photographed because they do get a bit repetitive, but I never got over the 'well damn' feeling whenever I peered into one.   

I just want to note the man in the last photo, and the fact he was sitting in a small box of a convenience store tucked into a building that was probably only a little larger than a phone booth. This photo doesn't quite convey how tiny the space is, but it was actually quite an amazing moment.