Eva Jiřičná: The first lady of Czech architecture
The modern Orangery at Prague Castle or the ultra-modern Congress Centre in Zlín. Eva Jiřičná’s distinctive style is instantly recognisable. This star of Czech architecture, who works all over the world and turns 85 years old on 3 March, loves simplicity and clean lines. She loves to work with glass, even in places where you might not expect it. Join us on a tour of some of her iconic buildings here in Czechia.

A native of Zlín, a worldwide star

Although architect Eva Jiřičná was born in Zlín, the city of footwear king Tomáš Baťa, she has spent her entire life working all over the world. She runs her two AI Design architectural studios: one in Prague and the other in London. Eva Jiřičná's projects bear the hallmark of originality, and her illuminated interiors adorn luxury stores and hotels, private apartments, bridges and offices throughout the world.

Photo: AI Design

Her clients include members of the aristocracy and successful business leaders. Another of Jiřičná’s characteristic touches is her use of tension cables for her famous glass staircases, such as in the Hotel Josef, so highly acclaimed by design buffs, and the Café Purkyně, both in Prague.

Jiřičná’s work in Czechia includes the modern Orangery, a steel-framed greenhouse, near the Deer Moat at Prague Castle, the interiors of the Dancing House in Prague, the Černá labuť café above the Bílá labuť department store in Prague, the Maximilian hotel in Prague, and a pedestrian footbridge in Brno. For her hometown of Zlín she designed the Congress Centre, the University Centre and the Faculty of Humanities of the Tomas Bata University.

Photo: AI Design

We invite you to places in Czechia designed by this petite elegant lady with her broad smile, acclaimed as an architect the world over.

Prague Castle

Eva Jiřičná was also one of the artists who helped former President Václav Havel improve the area of  Prague Castle. She designed the Orangery, the most modern building of the Royal Garden, which you can find right above the Deer Moat, next to the Ball Games Hall. The almost ninety-metre-long glass tube with stainless steel frame was built in 1999 in place of an older greenhouse, and it instantly catches one’s eye with its modern design. Did you know that citrus trees, almond trees, and other thermophilic crops were grown there by the royal gardeners during the reign of Rudolph II? You can tour the interiors of the Orangery daily during the season.

Prague Crossroads

For the Václav and Dagmar Havel Foundation, Vize 97, Eva Jiřičná modified the interiors of the Gothic Church of St Anna, which is a part of the former Dominican convent in the Old Town in Prague. The multicultural centre known as the Prague Crossroads was created there, which, among other purposes, serves as a gallery where you can see many works of art such as the sculpture Annunciation by sculptor Olbram Zoubek, vases by glass artist Bořek Šípek, the installation Václav Havel’s Wheels of Time by conceptual artist Daniel Pešta, several works by sculptor Kurt Gebauer, and A Heart for Václav Havel, an object made from candles lit in streets and squares all over the Czech Republic when Václav Havel died.

Prague: Hotels Josef and Maximillian

‘I find the light and working with light inside objects fascinating. Lightness, transparency, and materials in their pure form,’ Eva Jiřičná says. This applies 100% to the Hotel Josef, located on one of the streets in the historic centre of Prague, right in the heart of the Old Town.

The modern, spacious, and perfectly illuminated hotel surprises with minimalism, pure lines, as well as genius forms. The architect not only designed the building, but also the interiors, including the furnishings, textiles, and other details. This first-ever design hotel in the former Eastern Bloc countries received many awards. Eva Jiřičná also participated in the reconstruction of the Hotel Maximillian on Haštalská Street.

Prague Cafés

If you are not planning to visit the hotels, go to one of the cafés where Eva Jiřičná left a distinctive trace. You can admire the dazzling glass spiral staircase in the modern two-storey Café Purkyně in the Lékařský dům building at I. P. Pavlova Square or the view of the Prague roofs from the Černá labuť café, which refers to the building next door, the Bílá labuť department store in New Town.

Lifelong motto

And one thought to end with, or rather Eva Jiřičná’s lifelong motto: “If one thought only of everyday reality, life would have no meaning. There are two fundamental traits we learn from fairy tales: optimism and a sense of humour.”