Picture of the Day: Prague’s Dancing House

The Dancing House or Fred and Ginger is the nickname given to the Nationale-Nederlanden building in Prague, Czech Republic. It was designed by the Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunić in co-operation with the renowned Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry. The building was designed in 1992 and completed in 1996.

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

The ‘Dancing House’ is set on a property of great historical significance. Its site was the location of a house destroyed by the U.S. bombing of Prague in 1945. The plot and structure lay decrepit until 1960 when the area was cleared.

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.

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