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Architecture of Czech banks and savings banks in the 1990s

The documentary film Temples of Money deals with architecture of banks and savings banks in the 1990s presenting it as a phenomenon closely related to the social and political changes following the year 1989. A great number of new banks was built at that time, creating a specific model corresponding to the contemporary ideals of the newly developing economic sphere in a post-communist country. The architecture of these buildings was influenced by the then already fading postmodern. A heated discussion arose over the architecture of money institutions already when they were under construction, stressing for example the moral aspects related to the enormous financial costs and pompous form of these buildings. Criticism of prodigal forms and bombastic gestures referred to the very use of postmodern vocabulary. For the coming generation of young architects postmodern vocabulary meant an exhausted trend aimed more at commercial purposes than art.
The documentary is a sensitive attempt to reevaluate individual concepts, supported by documentation and interviews with architects of banks – Michael Gabriel, Vladimír Štulc and Jaromír Kročák. It is a reflection of a key and complex period but on the other hand a generally marginilized period of architecture of the early 1990s. Even after an almost quarter of a century for many architects who designed banks and savings banks this period remains taboo.

Jana Pavlová

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