In December 2016 a unique monumental architectural intervention, inspired by the elegant shapes of early twentieth-century airships, was opened on the rooftop of DOX. The 42 m long steel and wood structure will become a new permanent space for literature since March. Programme inside the airship is presented here.

An accompanying exhibition in the DOX tower describes the conceptual side of the creation of the airship, its inspirations, technical design, and its construction.

Access to the airship is possible with a valid ticket to the DOX Centre. In winter season the space is heated up only during events. The access is not barrier-free.

The Gulliver airship was open to general public on 11 December 2016 with a special programme. Partner of the opening event was the city of Prague.
In 2008 the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague first opened its doors to the public as the result of a private initiative by its current director, Leoš Válka, and his partners. The reconstruction of a former factory into a multifunctional space was soon nominated for the prestigious Mies van der Rohe Award, and for the past eight years the institution has continued to fulfil its mission: to create a space for research, presentation, and debate on important social issues, where arts in dialogue with other disciplines encourage a critical view of the so-called reality of today’s world.

The construction of a giant wooden airship “suspended“ above the DOX Centre is yet another testament to Leoš Válka´s personal conviction that is reflected in the DOX Centre’s overall philosophy: that even in today’s fast-paced, globalized world where nothing that cannot be calculated, evaluated, or predicted is worth risking for, “things can be done differently”.

The idea to invade the DOX Centre’s starkly modern austere concrete-and-glass architecture with a “parasitic“ structure has been on my mind for several years. I first dreamed of an absurdly fascinating organic shape that would contrast with the DOX Centre’s existing architecture,” says Leoš Válka.

In 2013 he invited internationally acclaimed architect Martin Rajniš, the 2014 winner of the Global Prize for Sustainable Architecture, to join him in realizing what he calls  “a dream of 12-year-old boys“. For more than two years together with wood and steel specialists they have been working on the design of what finally turned out to be a 42m long and 10m wide structure inspired by the shapes of the giant airships that began to cruise the skies at the dawn of the twentieth century.
The shape of the zeppelin is symbolic. The early zeppelins represented the optimistic ideals of a new era of unprecedented technological advancements. With their remarkable monumentality and hypnotic dignity that would continue to fascinate generations to come long after they had vanished from the skies, they have always embodied the eternal human desire to fly, and have represented a certain utopian ideal.

The airship is to bear the name of one of the most famous characters in utopian literature. Gulliver will serve as a space for reading and public discussions of literature  ̶  fiction, poetry and critical writing  ̶  related to the themes of DOX’s exhibitions, which typically offer a critical view of particular aspects of the contemporary human situation.

GULLIVER


A traveller to strange distant lands…
A wanderer of faraway seas and unexplored territories.
An adventurer who repeatedly embarks on voyages to the unknown. 
An eternal stranger and an outsider both to the countries and people he visits and to his own. 
An explorer whose travels to foreign lands allow him to see various aspects of human nature more clearly.
A messenger who, through the accounts of his sojourns among foreign nations, offers a mercilessly satirical and critical view of his own society and people, thus continuously pushing them to reflect upon the state of the world they live in and to contemplate their own human condition…

LEOŠ VÁLKA (1953) left Czechoslovakia in 1981 and settled in Australia, where he started several successful companies specializing in construction, interior design, and development. In 1996 he moved back to Prague. With his business partner Robert Aafjes, he initiated and with the financial assistance of additional partners built the largest private exhibition institution in the Czech Republic. The DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague’s Holešovice district opened in 2008. Today Leoš Válka serves as its director and chairman of the board. In 2011, based on a nomination by Václav Havel, he received an award from the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic for long-term merit in the area of fine art.

MARTIN RAJNIŠ (1944) has left his mark in architecture around the world through prominent projects connected by the idea of long-term sustainability, ecology, and the concept of architecture as a tool for community and social development. His work is based on the philosophy of “natural architecture”.  He is the founder and head of the Martin Rajniš Architecture Guild. In 2014 he was awarded the Global Prize for Sustainable Architecture. He lives and works in Prague.

Name: GULLIVER
Authors: Leoš Válka, Martin Rajniš, David Kubík
Co-author: Zbyněk Šrůtek
Project Designer / Planner: Dvořák & partners
In cooperation with: Zbyněk Šrůtek, Pavel Kocourek, Eva Fajkusová
General Contractor: STYLBAU, s.r.o.
Main suppliers: TIMBER DESIGN s.r.o, ELEKTRO MOSEV spol. s.r.o.
Project: 2014 - 2015
Realisation: 2016