In 1970, Czechoslovakia was responsible for the transportation of gas from the USSR to Western Europe. Czechoslovakia had been commissioned to build a 1,030 kilometres long transit pipeline across its territory. In order to secure its operation, the Transgas Gas Transit Control Centre was constructed between 1966 and 1976.
Four architects worked on the design: Ivo Loos, Jindřich Malátka, Václav Aulický and Jan Eisenreich from the Military Project Institute. The architect Jan Fišer also participated in the design of the interiors. The first part of the build to be completed was the central dispatching complex; Václav Aulický’s technical approach is most visible in this aspect of the design. The construction of the project originated at a time when the political atmosphere in Czechoslovakia seemed to have eased. These political conditions allowed the architects to show off the qualities they possessed in full, just like their Western European colleagues, setting this creation free from the suppression of society, as it had been before this period.
A financially demanding part of the entire build was the construction of a telemetric control panel, which needed to accommodate the state-of-the-art computing technology equipment. Isolating the pair of General Electric PAC 4010 computers from vibration and noise required space. This condition had to be incorporated into the structure, which in turn dictated the unusual shape of the building. These adaptations to the design created a unique result.
The Old Prague Club (Klub Za starou Prahu) attempted to preserve the building, but their proposal to declare it a cultural monument was rejected by the Ministry of Culture. There is nothing to prevent its private owner, HB Reavis, from taking the building down. A new project, designed by architect Jakub Cigler, will be built on the site once the Transgas building has been demolished.
*Transgas was planned by architects Václav Aulický, Jiří Eisenreich, Ivo Loos and Jindřich Malátek.
Text by Barbora Slavíčková
2018 Phibell s.r.o.
2018 Abandoned, earmarked for demolition
2018 Herbis Reavis Property Management CZ, s.r.o.
Form of government
1976 Socialist Federative Republic
2018 Parliamentary Democracy
Spatial Planning Agency
Type of heritage and protection
Interview with Jana
JV: I actually liked it a lot. I walked around it to work every day and it was very hard for me when it was demolished. I even took pictures of the demolition process. Now it's just so empty there… When the discussions about whether to demolish or not demolish took place, I was definitely against demolition, but at the same time sometimes I understand some people's opinions and feelings that they are not really related to such architecture. It's true that when I look at it through the eyes of an ordinary person, I understand that they probably found it a little ugly, or that it's a colossus.
BS: And did you see the project that will be erected there?
JV: Actually, I'm not even sure… Maybe not at all… Maybe I just lose it in a lot of other projects that are being built in places where there used to be some nice houses and then some glass cube will be built there, so I don't know. Somehow I wasn't really interested in it, because it wasn't important to me.
BS: All right, thank you.
Interview with Miroslav Tomek
MT: Since 2015, so three and a half years.
OK: So you've been an employee since the developer bought Transgas.
MT: Exactly. In fact, it was my first or second day at work that the news appeared on the Internet. I shared it on Facebook at the time, and in fact until then I didn't know much about Transgas, but as I went here first for interviews and then to work, I looked at the building and saw that it would probably disappear.
OK: And how did it affect you before you found out it was to be gone?
MT: When I thought about it now, I realized that I had always perceived the ground floor… According to that principle, I think Loos said that one always perceives only the ground floor. I remembered the entrance to that VZP. And in fact, it seems to me that I perceived it as a very modern building, as something that was different from the usual socialist architecture. The kind that was everywhere else, for example during the 90's, when I went to high school, but I didn't realize at all how exceptional the form of the building is.
OK: Can you tell me what changed your mind?
MT: I guess it gradually started to get more fashionable, to be interested in the brutalist architecture. I have always been interested in monuments. I've always loved history. I even studied history, but in the end I devoted myself to the 20th century, not to the Middle Ages. But at first I was interested in the Middle Ages, historic towns, the ruins of medieval castles… But then when I was in high school I liked constructivism, as it is known from the 20s and 30s… But it did not occur to me to see some values in the latest buildings, which at that time still deviated much from what one saw all around him. Then this fashion gradually appeared, for example the exhibition Husákovo 3 + 1, it could have been in 2007 or 2008… It's actually quite a long time ago. I even bought a catalog from it then, as I was interested in, that it can be so interesting for someone what I grew up in. And then I was actually fascinated by Karel Prager. He was talked about as one of the leading architects of the 70's and 80's. He was probably the first creator whose realization I could think of as something behind which there is an author's personality. Komerční banka in Smíchov, Koleje, of November 17… He also designed the New Stage of the National Theater. It's actually a hobby for me. Not my biggest hobby, ok… I would not like to tell you any nonsense… Well, then I traveled a little more, I was several times in various cities of the former Soviet Union, in the former Yugoslavia, where interesting monuments are preserved, and I began to perceive it differently. I started to ask what is special and unusual in Prague, and I realized how interesting is this place, where you can see the building of the Federal Assembly and at the same time the Transgas. The buildings are similar in some ways and at the same time they are conceived quite differently. At the same time, it is also such an important place for Prague. There is the State Opera and the National Museum, which are cut by the North-South highway, so it doesn't work urbanistically…
OK: You're against demolition… Can you think of a way to use Transgas again?
MT: Jaroslav Němec from the Prague 2 City Council wrote about this, saying that part of the municipality, which is located in the rented Škoda Palace, could move there. This is a rational use. I didn't really deal with it… I didn't see it as my task. I didn't get involved in it for a long time, I was maybe at one event. Maybe also at some events that took place in Prague as part of the fight to preserve the architectural heritage. For example, when there was a protest for the demolition of Kozák's house or the Hotel Praha. But I initiated this protest because I wanted to do something at the very last minute. That I was surprised that once the demolition had begun, it seemed that everyone had completely lost hope… And apparently it was useless, but there is something good in the media storm that ensued. But I didn't deal with it, I would say that probably even if the building is uneconomical, obsolete ... I do believe that it is still better to use what is than to demolish it and build something instead new. Although I believe in that case it may be quite on the edge. The demolition will also be an economic burden for the surroundings, so that's how I justify it… But otherwise I'm also deeply conservative internally and I just do mind that what I like will change, a part of my immediate surroundings. I don't think about the possibilities of use, I just believe that there are some.
OK: Okay, that's enough for me, thank you.