Posts about Architecture

The Smetana Hall + Obceni Dum in Prague

Prague: Obecní dům – a Genius Loci of fine Art Nouveau

13.05.2018

Great sculptors and painters of their time have created an architectural treasure, whose masterly opulence bears witness to their genius to this day. Jan Preisler, Mikoláš Aleš, Max Švabinský, František Ženíšek, Ladislav Šaloun, Josef Mařatka, Josef Václav Myslbek or Alfons Mucha – names difficult to pronounce – were but a small fraction within the remarkable group of skillful artists involved in building and decorating Obecní dům – the Municipal House located right in the heart of Prague. Since its inauguration in January of 1912, the extraordinary building has served as a splendid stage for atmospheric concerts, grand festive balls and fancy fashion shows and is justly listed a national heritage site.

Its two protagonists – the Smetana Hall and the restaurant Francouzská – alone are well worth the trip to Prague, from whichever corner of the globe it may have to commence.

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Reading time: about 2 minutes
Paris: The stage of a glamorous Montmartre Show.

Paris. Montmartre – a Sphere of its own Right

8.03.2018

The Making of a Bohemian Microcosm

Montmartre evolved following a massive urban reconstruction and relocation scheme initiated by a great man of the 19th century: Napoleon III. Together with his ambitious town planning prefect Baron Haussmann, he aimed at creating a mundane Paris of dazzling allure and wanted it to become „the most beautiful city of Europe“ – not without granting spacious plots of land in prime locations to Haussmann, his many friends and financial supporters. By rigorously stomping unsightly areas into the ground and by replacing humble housing by posh manorial edifices and narrow crooked alleyways by grandiose and airy boulevards and squares, Paris’s face was substantially lifted and embellished – albeit at the expense of the less privileged population, who became early victims of gentrification.

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Reading time: about 6 minutes
ICEHOTEL

Made of Ice: A truly unique Hotel

2.01.2018

Isn’t „unique“ a fantastic word to work with? Considering that it defines this one singular, outstanding idea, object or place, hardly a description could be more adequate. The ICEHOTEL in northern Sweden does not claim to be the one and only specimen of its kind. What renders it solitary is that it is redesigned and skillfully recreated every winter afresh – from scratch. 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, embedded in an untouched environment dotted with thousands of pristine lakes and crossed by wild rivers, lies Jukkasjärvi. Every year, the remote village witnesses a fascinating spectacle repeating itself.

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Reading time: about 3 minutes
The New Tree House at Luxury Safari Lodge Tongabezi in Zambia.

A global trend: Glamorous Camping = Glamping

1.12.2017

No tent to pitch, no sleeping bag to unroll

In the history of man’s evolution, „up the tree – and quickly!“ seemed a splendid option when it came to escaping from all sorts of bloodthirsty evil inadvertently popping up from nowhere. In order not to be devoured, predominantly benign early humans, hunting and gathering relentlessly, just followed their instinct. Enabled by helpful tools shaped from stone, hammered from bronze or cast from iron in later ages, the long-hatched dream of a safe permanent dwelling high up a tree did come true. Second best to the cosiness of easily defendable caves, the properly fastened tree-house offered lofty shelter, an ideal lookout for invaders and food protection from voracious scavengers – whereby the odd poisonous snake or spider moving in unasked had to be tolerated.

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Reading time: about 3 minutes
Aurora Borealis in Iceland

Iceland: Sleeping in a bubble

20.11.2017

When mystical veils of polar lights are wafting across northern skies in unknown shades of green, observers from near and far are eager to come and watch the stunning spectacle. A great many people have the Aurora Borealis on their bucket list of things to do at least once in a lifetime. Witnessing the awesome natural miracle when in Iceland can happen in the most comfortable of ways: by dreamily lying on one’s back underneath the transparent skin of an unconventional „hotel“ room in the shape of a bubble. Glamping under a canopy of stars means freedom and shelter at the same time.

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Reading time: about 2 minutes