Prague’s Dancing House – an extravagant building resembling a pair of dancers

Baku, April 11, AZERTAC

The Nationale Nederlanden building, known as the “Dancing House” or sometimes “Fred and Ginger”, is one of the most significant landmarks in Prague and definitely the most internationally renowned piece of post-1989 Czech architecture.

It is one of Prague’s most recognizable buildings with its central pillars representing dancing partners, giving the building a unique sense of movement.

The building was designed by the Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunić in co-operation with the renowned Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry on a vacant riverfront plot.

The construction of the house started in 1992 and was completed in 1996.

In 1997, the building received Time magazine’s Design of the Year award for the previous year.

The building, which has an unusual wavy shape that is said to resemble a pair of dancers, earning it the nickname Fred and Ginger (after the famous dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers).

It features above-ground floors and two below-ground floors, and is home to office spaces, a luxury hotel, and a restaurant (called Ginger & Fred).

Gehry originally named the house as Fred and Ginger (after the famous dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers – the house resembles a pair of dancers) but this nickname is now very rarely used; moreover, Gehry himself was later "afraid to import American Hollywood kitsch to Prague", so refused his own idea.

The style is known as deconstructivist (“new-baroque” to the designers) architecture due to its unusual shape. The “dancing” shape is supported by 99 concrete panels, each a different shape and dimension. On the top of the building is a large twisted structure of metal nicknamed Medusa.

The Dancing House is designed around the metaphor of a dancing couple, with two central pillars representing the distinct polarities of static and dynamic movement. One tapered glass tower is cinched in the middle and bells out at the bottom, representing the dynamic, feminine movement.

A second pillar (representing the static, masculine partner) is made out of concrete panels and stands up straight, with a metal mesh tuft at the top. A series of moldings create swirly striations running across the concrete side of the building, making it appear wavier in structure than it actually is.

There is also a sightseeing terrace on top of the building, from which you can overlook the breathtaking panorama of Prague.

5 notable characteristics of the Dancing House

With its own unique design in comparison to its surroundings, which mainly consist of Art Nouveau, Baroque, and Gothic-style buildings, the Dancing House in Prague has some notable architectural characteristics:

1. The window panes protrude from the facade. The concrete side of the building has a series of windows dotting its surface in a nonlinear pattern. Each window has a frame that protrudes from the building’s surface, giving the structure a three-dimensional effect.

2. The materials used in the construction were mainly steel, glass, and concrete. One of the pillars at the center of the building is made of glass and steel, and the other pillar is made of concrete. Additionally, ninety-nine concrete panels of all different shapes and sizes were constructed to help support the unusual shape of the pillar.

3. It represents the concept of yin and yang. The curved, glass tower represents the dynamic dancer (Ginger), while the undulating pillar represents the static figure (Fred).

4. It offers beautiful views. The building is home to a luxury hotel, bar, and rooftop restaurant called the Ginger & Fred restaurant (located on the top floor of the building). Diners of the restaurant can enjoy views of the Charles Bridge, the Vltava River, and Prague Castle.

5. One of the pillars has a metal tuft. On top of the building is a structure named “Medusa” made of twisted metal tubing and wire mesh. It was placed there during the inauguration of the building.







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