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Circle is closing

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The broadcasting transmitter at Ještěd will again be in the hands of self administration. The timing of its sale can be related to the prepared Nordic World Ski Championships. The building which was awarded the prestigious prize of Albert Perreta by the International Union of Architects in 1969, even before it had been completed, has been through a typical new capitalist history. The revitalisation investment will be in the amount of hundreds of millions of crowns.

The Liberec regional council agreed with the purchase of the broadcasting transmitter Ještěd. The unique architectural monument coming from the drawing board of the legendary architectural atelier SIALwill hopefully live up to its reconstruction. Currently, negotiations are being held between the current owner and the Liberec region. The building will not be in the hands of the town, as was originally expected by some, but will be owned by the region. České radiokomunikace want CZK 80 million from the sale. Some furtherhundredsof millions will probably go on exterior reconstructions and an inconsiderable amount for the interiors of the hotel and restaurant so that Ještěd can be registered on the list of architectural gems of UNESCO. The significance of this unique architectural design goes over the ‘gems’ by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London for their planned exhibition titled Cold War Modern: Design 1945-1970. In comparison with the Ostankino Tower in Moscow or the Berlin Television Tower, Ještěd is not very well known amongst the foreign professional public. The approaching Nordic World Ski Championships have most probably persuaded the relevant institutions topreventthe Liberec dominant, which will probably appear on millions of television screens, to become a dilapidated ‘gem’ being a reflection on wild pre-revolution times. But the reconstruction of the whole complex will probably not be completed before the championship is initiated.

THE BLACK KNIGHTIS TO CHANGECOLOUR…

Negotiations between the town of Liberec, České radiokomunikace and the region have been held since approximately last November. One of the original ideas was for these entities to establish a beneficial company. The company would then be able to acquire financial resources from foreign foundation funds. But this way has proven impossible. The fact that these wouldn’t be sole traders and that České radiokomunikace was privatised would make the drawing of the resources more difficult. So, interest in the buying of the Ještěd broadcasting transmitter came from the region. “It has resulted from the negotiations, that the condition of Ještěd can get so bad that České radiokomunikace will fence it off and close it for safety reasons. We believed that it is a particularly beautiful symbol, something that exceeds the boundaries of the town of Liberec,” said Ivo Palouš, the deputy mayor of Liberec.

The participated entities have finally determined to act but it was necessary to evolve some effective pressures. One of them might be the activities of Jiří Jiroutka, the photographer and author of the book about the broadcast transmitter who has attended to the Phenomenon of Ještěd for years. A publication of the same name and mapping the current and original condition of the interiors, fixings and everything that relates to this building is coincidently being currently published in a second volume. “I myself see the biggest problem for Ještěd being the fact that it is a young listed building. Its values were, in the post-revolution period, known only to a close group of people who definitely didn’t include the owners of expensive cars who used to own it then,” adds Jiří Jiroutek. And it was in particular the previous company owner, Jizera a. s., who owned the broadcasting transmitter before České radiokomunikace, who left the most marks on the current conditionofthis monument. Jiří Jiroutka believes that less than 5% of the original fixings were preserved.

A DETECTIVE STORY ALA CZECH

Ještěd hotel got out of the hands of the District Council of Liberec after the revolution. Jaroslav Mráz, head of the council then, sold it in 1992 for an approximate price of CZK 70 million. That is why he was later removed from his post by the Minister of the Home Office. Jizera a.s. had then become the new owner. This entity was later put into liquidation by the Plzeň Bank for an unpaid loan in the amount of CZK 418 million. The media known representative of Jizera a. s., Ladislav Jač, was apparently the subject of three unsuccessful assassination attempts by his business partner – twice by Semtex placed under the car (this didn’t detonate the first time) and the third attempt was supposed to be an attack with a knife but this didn’t materialise. The building was bought in 2000 by České radiokomunikace who have in the meantime invested about CZK 20 million into it.

TIME WILL TELL…

České radiokomunikace are now admitting that they have taken over incomplete technical documentation when buying this gem. “Most of it was damaged by a fire in a boiler room where it was placed when owned by the previous owner. The documentation which was placed in the architectural atelier of SIAL was damaged in floods. As far as we know, most of it is in the town archive,” said Marie Fianová, media representative at České radiokomunikace. It wasn't until coincidence lent a hand for at least part of this technical documentation relating to the building to appear – and it was apparently when moving the atticofone Liberec flat. The Faculty of Architecture at the Technical University and mainly the vice-dean Jiří Suchomel and a co-worker from the architect and author of the broadcasting transmitter Karel Hubáček did not hang around. “Nowadays there is comprehensive digital documentation as well as a three-dimensional and two--dimensional one. It is the result of work from a student who was working with the topic of the New Utilisation of Ještěd Tower who put together the accessible records digitally and which was a necessary condition for the reconstruction. We are in touch with atelier SIAL where there are strong pressures for preserving the building. We want to present our work for potential future utilisation to the Liberec regional office.Unfortunately, we were unable to get in touch with České radiokomunikace whilst putting it together. We were required to get the information in another way,” said Professor Ing. Architect Jiří Suchomel. And how does he see the future utilisation of this monument? “The Ještěd hotel is a curiosity. There are only a few rooms and the subject of our work was to improve the quality of the rooms on the top floors in order to meet nowadays demands. In this world there are hotel chains offering special experience. Some sort of discomfort and exceptionality of the place is also an experience and that is something Ještěd can no doubt offer,” said Professor Suchomel. He added that the most interesting part of the tower under the parabolic mirrors can also be considered for accessibility.

Robert Keil / foto: Lukáš Janičina

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