Home Do You Know? Why this building is so controversial?

Why this building is so controversial?

The Dancing House is a building on the Rašín Embankment in Prague, Czech Republic. It was designed by the Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunić in cooperation with Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry on a plot where US fighter jets had destroyed an existing building by bombing during the second world war. The new building was designed in 1992 and was completed four years later in 1996. This building has many controversies surrounding it. Do you know what are these controversies?

As early as 1986 (during the Communist era) V. Milunić, then a respected architect in the Czechoslovak milieu, conceived an idea for a project at the place and discussed it with his neighbour, the then little-known dissident Václav Havel. A few years later, during the Velvet Revolution Havel became a popular leader and was subsequently elected president of Czechoslovakia. Havel eventually decided to have Milunić survey the site, hoping for it to become a cultural center, although this was not the result. The Dutch insurance company, Nationale-Nederlanden (since 1991 ING Bank), agreed to sponsor the building of a house on site.

This is a building which carries with it bipolar views right from the day of its construction. Those who love this building call it “Dancing House” and for those who hate it the building looks like a “Drunken House.”

Though its asymmetrical structure gives it a different style, for conservationists clearly it’s out of place in a more traditional environment. The non-traditional design was controversial at the time because the house stands out among the Baroque, Gothic and Art Nouveau buildings for which Prague is famous. With its clear-cut deconstructivism and unusual form, the style of the headquarters of the Nationale-Nederlanden is considered by the designers of architecture to be “new-barroque”.

Even many years down the line, it continues to be contentious between the citizens disgusted by the building, considering it out of place in a conservative context, and those who see it as a symbol of freedom, liberation and democratic beliefs after the fall of communism.

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