The Metro Vent is a sculptural piece located in the Smíchov Rail Station, designed in 1977 by Josef David. The design of the station stresses the importance of transportation, especially the adjacent railway.
The metro station was tiled by structural concrete and ceramic plates. The ceramic relief was executed to the design of Marta Tabery. Sculptor Jan Hendrych designed the fountain, and Aleš Vašíček created the sculpture in the metro vestibule. The Ventilator 59 SN, conceived by architect Josef David, overlooks the adjacent bus terminal. The air flows out from underneath the pointed roofs. These are visually separated by fully covered ceramic mouldings that flow from the top to the street level.
The surroundings of Smíchov railway station will soon change dramatically – the cancelled freight train station will become a new district of Smíchov City, based on the outcomes of several architectural competitions.
Text by Barbora Slavíčková
2018 Metro Vent
1977 City of Prague
2018 City of Prague
1977 The Prague Public Transit
2018 The Prague Public Transit
Form of government
1977 Socialist Federative Republic
2018 Parliamentary Republic
Spatial Planning Agency
Type of heritage and protection
Interview with Gabča
GS: I know now, but when I drove there, I had no idea it was a subway exhalation. I took it more as a statue, the dominant feature of the place.
BS: So you found it interesting, but didn't you think too much about what it was?
GS: Not really. In general, Smíchovské nádraží has kind of a very industrial character, especially the next stop Lihovar (Distillery). So I just saw it as part of it, as some vertical element that is there, and I didn't think about it any more than that. I took it as part of the bus stop, as an alien or predator in a way, and I didn't think about it any more than that.
Interview with Jan Charvát
Journalist and author
JC: Hello, that's my hobby. For several years, I dealt with this more intensively, which culminated in that a few years ago we published a book at BigBoss, which is characteristically called Nádech Výdech (Inhale Exhale), which symbolizes the relationship between air that is exhaled from the underground and sucked into it. It works like those exhausts that intersect on the surface and are kind of a bonus lungs of the subway. So it was a book we published that set itself the task of mapping this neglected, but in many ways interesting, architecture and putting it in some architectural and other context.
BS: And do you have a memory of your own or something that originally led you to this topic?
JC: Memory… I always had a little vice for the subway when I was a kid… So maybe that's it. And then, of course, when one walks around Prague and is a little bit interested in architecture and its surroundings, this has resulted in this interest in these strange buildings, perhaps for some, which interweaves Prague over those metro lines. So it was such an initial interest, and when I found out that no one had worked it out yet, and that, of course, as with other, larger architectures, those architects are gradually leaving us… so I took it as a task to make a type of encyclopedia. It is about the characters of those metro architects whose existence people often have no idea about.
BS: Great! And what exactly is so special about the Smíchov exhaust?
JC: It may be specific with its morphology.… If I had to choose the five most beautiful exhalations, it might not even get among them, but it might be interesting in how it originated and what problems accompanied it. I think the author of the exhaust is the architect Zdeněk Drobný, who is an architect who also designed the Malostranská metro station, which was very top-notch at the time, and which very well combined the scenery of the Valdštějn Riding School with the metro station. But this was route "B", which originated later than Malostranská(“A” line), and originally in the place where the exhalation is, he proposed a much more sublime form, which was based on a kind of fountain. On such troughs, which were placed vertically with kind of spheres that were to fall down. And this proposal, because a fountain was originally planned there, was developed for several years. The art council, which dealt with the design, had the designs redesigned several times… In a specific way… And in a view of some of the financial problems at the time, so in the end, of course, the final form was not exactly what he had originally imagined. In my opinion, it was more of a perversion and he took it that way… Unfortunately, the architect Drobný is already dead, however, his children are architects, so they continued his tradition and highly appreciate the legacy of their father.
BS: Okay, thank you very much.