Ask most people about Prague’s rich architecture, and they’ll probably mention the castle, the historic Charles Bridge, some of the Art Nouveau and Gothic Revival buildings, or, occasionally, the faceted Cubist facades.
Few people would come up with an image of Prague’s brutalist Transgas complex. Built in 1978 near Wenceslas Square, the complex housed imposing blocks with long windows, covered with steel or small cobblestones. The surrounding decor was designed to evoke gas pipelines. One of the project’s main architects, Václav Aulický, went on to design the high-tech Žižkov TV Tower in the Czech capital.
Transgas was a testament to Prague‘s almost forgotten brutalist era. The Czech Republic – then part of Czechoslovakia – was under communist rule from 1948 to 1989. And while socialism changed the social fabric of the country, it also shaped its cityscapes. During these four decades, Prague experienced one of the most intense waves of development in the city’s history, driven largely by brutalist and socialist-modernist projects similar to those of the Soviet Union. Even near Prague’s main thoroughfares, prefab housing estates have sprung up everywhere. These buildings still house around a quarter of all Prague residents today.