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New Streets, More Commercial Wasteland


Moderní Brno, an online source for all news Brno, linked to a Mladá fronta story about new street names in Brno. "Milada Horáková" street, for instance, may become "Milada Horáková, 1901-1950, victim of judicial murder" street. (Horáková is one of the most famous political victims who was executed during Communist show trials in the 1950s.) It's certainly worth honoring her memory, but could you imagine trying to fit that address onto an envelope?

A member of Brno's planning committee claims that people are not interested enough in who the streets are named after. In the case of Milada Horáková, it seems to me, there is less danger of complete ignorance than in the case of someone like Karolína Světlá, but I haven't heard any plans to change the name of her streets to "Karolína Světlá, nineteenth-century writer and feminist." But even if all the streets named after famous people, would such subtitles really raise residents' level of appreciation for these namesakes? Does naming a street after them really convince citizens that these were significant people?

If they do go forward with the plan of renaming streets, how are they going to decide to redistribute the names? Smetana, the Bohemian (ahem) composer has a whole street, while Kurt Gödel, a logician and mathematician born in Brno, will only receive a path in a park below the cathedral. They say he walked to school on these paths as a boy, but why not re-name the highway to Vienna for him since he left for there not too long after? And what about Erich Korngold (another composer)? He was born in Brno, but I haven't yet noticed any streets for him.

Moderní Brno also announced the opening of a new office complex along the (current) Vídeňská street, which goes toward Vienna (Vienna is Vídeň in Czech). The new complex is, I suppose, a sign that Brno is moving up in the world. The complex is named Spielberk and was opened in mid-June by Remon Vos, managing director of CTP Invest, the group that is developing the office park. Not too long ago, the Dutch-born Vos couldn't have been less condescending when he spoke about Brno to the Prague Post, where he was quoted: "In Prague, you have everything. [. . . In Brno] that's not always the case." Now that CTP has invested more than 143 million USD in Brno, perhaps he's changed some of his outlook, but I suspect he would still not want to live in Brno. It's always nice to know that such heartwarming people are looking out for the city's future.

CTP (short for Central Trade Park) also cultivates charming corporate architecture. If the looks are anything to go by, Brno will soon be the next Canton, Michigan (at least, according to Joe's reports of endless strip malls). I admire Brno's tradition of functionalism, but I'm afraid that the architecture for most commercial office parks just doesn't cut it, and it's not creating new neighborhoods in which people (especially not Vos, I suspect) will want to live.

In any case, they probably won't be changing the name of Zámečnická street since it hasn't changed since the 13th century. At least some things stay the same.

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