Baba Housing Estate gets two new interactive panels informing about the history of this functionalist housing estate

On Tuesday, 30 January 2024, Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda officially activated two interactive information panels with touchscreens located at the new U Matěje public transport stops in Prague 6. They are located near the Baba Housing Estate ensemble of functionalist villas, which has received the prestigious European Heritage Label. These are the only two interactive touchscreen panels for purely informational and not commercial purposes.

Two bilingual electronic touchscreen panels at the U Matěje stop provide visitors with more information about the history and present of Baba Housing Estate and other functionalist residential complexes in Europe that were built in the years 1927 to 1932 as part of the Werkbund project. It is possible to browse through the website on the panels, where all the interesting information about these unique housing estates can be found.

“In the field of care for European heritage, this is an important project of successful cooperation with foreign cities that has led to obtaining the highest award in heritage. Thanks to the initiative of the Heritage Department, not only did Prague compensate for the previous deficit in presenting the Baba site in a relatively short time and finally catch up to the leaders of the Werkbund project, Vienna and Stuttgart, but it has become an inspiration for the other sites in implementing the activities entailed in the EHL award at an advanced technological level. Thanks to efficient cooperation between the Prague City Hall Heritage Department and Technology Prague, as of today Baba can pride itself on modern touchscreen info panels for visitors of this unique site,” said Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda.

The Baba Housing Estate received the prestigious European Heritage Label in 2020. This international recognition is awarded by the European Commission to those monuments, buildings, museums, archives, documents or events which are considered milestones in the formation of today’s Europe. Along with the Baba Housing Estate, the award also went to five other functionalist housing estates of the Werkbund in Europe from the years 1927 to 1932, which are found in Stuttgart, Brno, Wrocław, Vienna and Zurich. Fulfilling the timeline of activities associated with receiving the EHL included labelling the site and providing for accessible information for visitors of this exceptional place.

At the initiative of the Prague City Hall Heritage Department, the aforementioned website and a mobile app for Baba visitors were produced. Now, in cooperation with Technology Prague, the first info system directly in the EHL location has been successfully implemented. According to Tomáš Novotný, the vice-chairman of the Technology Prague board, it is a unique modification of the touchscreen displays used in the ongoing digitisation of city bus shelters.

With the installation of the touchscreen info panels at the new public transport stops, which serve exclusively to inform the public on the site, Prague fulfilled one of the relatively challenging activities planned for 2023. Its content also includes a video presentation produced by students of the Ladislav Sutnar Faculty of Design and Art at the University of West Bohemia in Plzeň.

“Of all the award-winning sites, the Prague City Hall Heritage Department is best managing to implement one of the key activities of the timeline, which is cooperation with schools. In the conceptual and creative manner of “for students by students”, it approaches the task of reaching out to the young generation and presenting the Baba Housing Estate to it along with the cultural-social context of when it was made. The public thus has the opportunity to get acquainted with the result of this cooperation thanks to these info panels, which feature the video presentation by students of the Faculty of Design and Art that bears the name of leading Czech interwar graphic designer Ladislav Sutnar, who was also an investor in one of the iconic Baba villas,” states Deputy Mayor for Culture, Tourism, Heritage, Exhibitions and Animal Care Jiří Pospíšil. 

The installation of the information panels also symbolically opens the path to the next steps for planned modifications to the public spaces in the given area based on the winning design of the studio ARCHUM architekti, which produced a conceptual study for revitalising, cultivating and restoring infrastructure in the Baba heritage zone in cooperation with the Prague Institute of Planning and Development.

The Baba1932 project will entail the creation of high-quality public space here, plus facilities for visitors, who thanks to the info panels at the stops will be able to learn all the information on Werkbund sites in Europe. The collaboration with schools will also be further developed, with a set of Baba1932 activities currently being created for primary and secondary school students by a team of teachers and students at Pražské humanitní gymnázium.

The capital is thus letting its residents know that it is not only cultivating the Prague Heritage Reservation and taking care of the historic centre that is a priority, but that it also focuses attention on supporting and developing unique, architecturally valuable sites and heritage zones found in the broader surroundings of the city’s congested central area. This is the right direction, in which it plans to continue successfully.