Prague: An Architectural Time Capsule

Following a recent trip to Prague for the annual conference of the Leaders of Design Council, BVA co-founder Ankie Barnes reflected on the magic of this ancient city:

“One contributing factor is this city has never really been either air-bombed or destroyed by house-to-house fighting, so there’s a mix of Medieval, Renaissance and 17th, 18th and 19th-century architecture that’s largely intact,” he says. “The best of these older buildings from many different eras were retained because their beauty was appreciated and treasured by all, even by Hitler. This diversity keeps it a notch above many other cities in Europe.”


Old Prague architecture
Old Prague

The conference took advantage of these incredible, centuries-old landmarks, like the Chateau Troja on the outskirts of Prague, where we had dinner in the dramatically painted ballroom:

Chateau Troja's painted ceilings

Conference sessions were held at Municipal House, completed in 1912 for civic use. It’s an Art Nouveau-style show-house of Polish culture that survived German, Communist and Russian occupations and remains a heavily-used, beloved landmark to this day with a concert hall and several restaurants and bars.

Municipal House, Prague
Municipal House, Prague
Municipal House, Prague
Ankie sits on a beautifully preserved leather banquette at Municipal House, which, like 70 percent of its architecture and interiors, is original to the structure.

The closing dinner ball was at the Lobkowicz Palace in Prague Castle, a private palace found among the myriad government and religious buildings on this striking acropolis overlooking the old city.

Prague Castle and Lobkowicz Palace

Here, Ankie and Fran, below middle, celebrate after the dinner with architect Greg Tankersley of the Birmingham-based firm McAlpine Tankersley and his wife, Mary Robin.

Mary Robin Tankersley, Ankie Barnes, Fran Barnes, Greg Tankersley

Prague Castle dominates the hill overlooking the city and contains treasures including the Cathedral and Vladislav Hall—dating from the 1500’s it is the highly creative, ribbed-vaulted coronation hall of the Bohemian Kings.

Vladislav Hall, Prague
Vladislav Hall, Prague

“Through architecturally-focused travel like this trip to Europe, we’re fortunate to get regular doses of architectural inspiration from all over the world which helps inform our work.” — Ankie Barnes