1st Central-European Architectural Magazine for the Culture of the Environment

Piranesi Mention 2021: Hunting Grounds Pet Crematorium

Photo: Benedikt Markel

Piranesi Awards / Piranesi 46/47

Piranesi Mention 2021: Hunting Grounds Pet Crematorium

Petr Hájek Architekti

Mirror as Architecture

by Jana Tichá

A new architectural project near Prague provides an experience of the kind usually evoked by a work of art.

Photo: Radek Úlehla

When we turn off from the busy Highway D7 to the north, we find ourselves in a landscape of fruit orchards. We pass row upon row of cherry and apricot trees, planted in rows like soldiers, all the same age and same size, regularly spaced in a right-angled grid. All at once, the face of the landscape changes. From a productive agricultural area whose appearance is clearly defined by man’s will and his ability to cultivate nature to serve his needs, we are suddenly thrown into a wasteland. The distant horizon opens up before us, we pass through a steppe-like landscape with wild bushes and trees and no signs of human care for this strange piece of land. Only the straight asphalt reflects the virtual presence of man. We are less than an hour’s drive from Prague, and suddenly it feels as if we are outside the realm of human scale, in a landscape whose character could be described as cosmic. It is a strange wilderness of a kind not often found in Central Europe.

We are on the grounds of a former military base, an air defence complex built in the late 1970s and early 1980s in order to defend the capital, Prague. In 2004, the military facility ceased to serve its purpose and the area was gradually opened to the public. Nevertheless, the core of the former military site is still accessible only at certain times and for previously announced visitors. Today, the expansive main underground structure houses the Cold War and Air Defence Museum. Nearby, though not visible from here, are several smaller service bunkers. One of these bunkers has been converted into a pet crematorium poetically called “Eternal Hunting Grounds,” based on a design by the architect Petr Hájek.

Photo: Tomas_Vocelka

Project Data
Studio: Petr Hájek ARCHITEKTI
Authors: Petr Hájek, Martin Stoss, Cornelia Klien
Projekt: 2014-2018
Construction period: 2018-2021
Dodavatel stavby: 1PS s.r.o.
Investor: Věčná loviště s.r.o.
Test operation: 2020
Entry into operation: 2021
Built-up area: 250m2
Enclosed area: 1250m3