Written by: David Creighton
Photo by: Hana Hamplová
There’s a happy symmetry about the interiors of the Prague office of the British Council, which moved to its new premises last year. The designer was acclaimed Czech architect Eva Jiřičná, who has lived in Britain for over 30 years. She worked in conjunction with Prague firm AI Design. “The emphasis was on a solution which was contemporary, flexible and transparent,” says Director Mandy Johnson. Jiřičná’s trademark use of glass in her designs matched this brief very well.
01> The aim behind the reception area was to create a space that would surprise visitors and help them find their way around. Open-plan layouts and the extensive use of glass has helped achieve this goal. The seats facing the desk are by Philippe Starck.
02> At first there were doubts about whether the lights were too large or fitted too low, but now they are regarded as one of the most attractive features of the project, and they seem to float in space.
03> “In the office section only the director has a fully enclosed work space, yet the theme of openness continues even here. Although the room has walls and a door, they are all made of glass, creating a clean, fresh feel. The shapes of the lights, the frosted glass and the edges of the glass panels create interesting views, patterns and reflections.”
04> The administrative area is large and open-plan, which some staff didn’t like at first. One year on, however, most people would say that this layout was worthwhile, as communications have improved.
05> The reception desk is one of the first things you notice as you enter. Jiřičná favored something imposing, although the previous British Council director wanted something lighter. In the end the first idea won, and the result is a design whose illumination and curved front attract attention immediately.
06> Why shouldn’t bathrooms be stylish? Design is important even in the ladies’ toilets.
07> The idea was that the fixed elements are in neutral tones, while removable furniture can be bright. The illuminated bookcase brightens up an area that receives less light than other spaces.