For Jan Kaplicky - Architecture - Domus
For Jan Kaplicky
 

For Jan Kaplicky

Jan Kaplicky died on January 14 in alarming circumstances. Stefano Casciani remembers him.

 

Architecture / Jan Kaplicky Landmark Magazzini Selfridges Birmingham Future Systems studio Futuristic architecture Ferrari Museum at Moden Metro stations at Naples

A poet of science fiction in architecture, builder of politely imposing landmarks such as the Selfridges store in Birmingham, founder of the practice Future Systems, Jan Kaplicky died on January 14 in alarming circumstances. Separated from is first wife, Amanda Levete (with whom he shared his professional practice and the raising of his first son Josef), in 2007 he married Eliška Fuchsová, who on Wednesday gave birth to their daughter Johanka in Prague (the city that Kaplicky left many years ago to establish himself in London). Perhaps in an emotional state for the new life, at 8.30 in the evening, Kaplický collapsed in the street from a heart attack. Police tried to give him aid but paramedics arriving shortly afterwards pronounced him dead.

A dedicated interpreter of a great tradition of avant-garde art, that of the Czech Republic interrupted by the long Stalinist domination, Kaplicky was able to renew the language of futuristic architecture, pushing it in a strongly visionary direction. His buildings and objects (a series of table for Alessi has recently gone into production), literally resemble “things from another world”, from that outer space that science-fiction always depicts as obscure and vaguely threatening but that for Kaplicky was instead a source of inspiration always new, even joyful at its best moments. Some of his important works remain to be completed, such as the Ferrari Museum at Modena and one of the new metro stations at Naples (with Anish Kapoor). In remembrance of Kaplicky, and his highly particularly humanity, the words he said himself a few years ago in an interview with British newspaper The Observer seem particularly appropriate, “... I do think a lot of creativity depends on your relationships with other people, your personal relationships, your partner or whatever. Your personal happiness or unhappiness comes out in your work, it's a reflection of your emotional state and you can't separate the two.”

It could be said that Kaplicky's happiness was earned through hard work, made up of great ideas and works, strong emotions, some disappointments (such as the competition – won and then cancelled – for the Czech National Library) and a tireless spirit of invention, defeated only by the unpredictable cruelty of fate. Stefano Casciani

Birmingham, Selfridges department store. Photo Richard Davies

Birmingham, Selfridges department store. Photo Richard Davies


Birmingham, Selfridges department store. Photo Richard Davies

Birmingham, Selfridges department store. Photo Richard Davies


Prague, National library

Prague, National library


Prague, National library

Prague, National library


Bettina, table-set designed for Alessi in 2008

Bettina, table-set designed for Alessi in 2008


Urban Icon
 

Urban Icon

Future Systems’ new building for Selfridges in Birmingham puts new life into the department store, a 19th century institution that has been in decline for decades. Text by Deyan Sudjic. Photography by Richard Davies.

 

Architecture

Future Systems for Modena
 

Future Systems for Modena

Modena seems to be recovering its pluck as a city that is open to contemporary architecture, after the recent post-modern saga that made Frank Gehry refuse to do a minor project there, badgered as he was by the hopeless controversy raised against him by conservatives. Text by Stefano Casciani

 

Architecture

Future Systems. Future school

The school-capsules devised by Future Sytems plug on to conventional buildings, uncovering new spatial and didactic possibilities. Photography by Soren Aagaard. Edited by Rita Capezzuto

 

Architecture

The library of the future
 

The library of the future

The people of Prague, demonstrating some hostility towards the new, have already found a nickname, “the octupus”, for the new national library that by 2011 should be taking shape in the old city, on the edge of Letna park.

 

Architecture