Designed by Libor Šenekel, Vaclav Havel´s Monument is a symbol of human determination, legacy, and that even one person can change the course of history. Vaclav Havel became unforgettable for many as a symbol of defiance and human determination, which reminds us that even one person is capable of great deeds. Just as today the monument stands against the enormous power of water, that is trying to devour it, stood Vaclav Havel and many others against the oppressive power of communism. The memorial is supposed to fascinate being watched from the waterfront, to inspire fear as well as courage being entered into the masses of water, to lure to step into the unknown. More images and architects‘ description after the break.
Location of the project logically follows the main places of Vaclav Havel´s activity. Imaginary triangle formed by Havel’s apartment on the waterfront and the intellectual-theatrical center of the art community, of which for decades Havel was one of the leading figures on the right bank of the Vltava river and the Prague Castle, where he worked in his presidential office on the left bank of the river, creates the perfect intersection of all the former president´s life roles. Not only Vaclav Havel, but also millions of people, used to experience such feelings. Everyone, who joined the fight against oppression and injustice. The memorial itself should awake a lot of feelings in people.
The monument is 75 m long, 5 m wide and 2 m deep. Its lenghts was derived from the length of Vaclav Havel´s life that lasted 75 years. Average human height was a determining factor for calculating the depths of the memorial, so that a visitor passing through the monument on 30 cm high metal grate at the bottom of the monument observes the current level of the Vltava river at eye level. The chosen width is the result of many studies. Visibility and a feeling of never-ending abyss of water played an important role, as well as cascading water that narrows the memorial around its edges. Addressing the overflow edge geometry became a very time consuming matter.
It was necessary to find the ideal shape so that the water forms a coherent water wall and the water does not change into water dust. As it turned out, the most ideal solution was a clean sloping edge. It was also necessary to solve the coloring of the cascading water, which tends to change its color to white and clear, while the water in the Vltava is dark green. Unification of the coloring is secured by the stone cladding, namely green quartz, which colour is closest to the color of water in the Vltava. It is possible to descend into the monument using stairs – a thin metal grate that does not interfere with architectural purity. The same material is used for the bottom walking line, which is slightly submerged under water, creating the effect of ‘walking on water’.
The memorial is accessible by boat, the whole neighborhood of Strelecký island is a no-sail area where transport on water is allowed only by small non-motorized boats and pedal boats. Night lighting is provided by a strip of Led lights, which is situated at the impact of water on the surface of the water inside the monument. This location of the lights guarantees that the light spread evenly around the waterfall. The principle of the water flow and subsequent drainage is relatively simple, the water flows into the monument around its circumference, then flows through drainage holes that are connected to the piping system under Novotny bridge and drains water back into the river. Each hole is protected by a drainage grate to prevent clogging.
Novotny bridge is ideal for discharging water without the use of other facilities due to the higt difference in levels of water surfaces. This place also offers a large reserve during the increased water flow of the Vltava. The whole monument is anchored to the pilots and does not interfere with the existing river bed of the Vltava.