Artist, architect and architectural theorist John Hejduk (19 July 1929 - 3 July 2000) introduced new ways of thinking about space that are still highly influential in both modernist and post-modernist architecture today, especially among the large number of architects who were once his students. Inspired both by darker, gothic themes and modernist thinking on the human psyche, his relatively small collection of built work, and many of his unbuilt plans and drawings, have gone on to inspire other projects and architects around the world. In addition, his drawing, writing and teaching have gone on to shape the meeting of modernist and postmodern influences in contemporary architecture and helped bring psychological approaches to the forefront of design.
For the first time in history, a John Hejduk structure has been permanently installed in a public space. The American architect's Jan Palach Memorial has officially opened last week at Jan Palach Square (formerly Red Army Square) on the Alšovo Riverbank in Prague after 25 years in the making.
"The work, entitled House of the Suicide and House of the Mother of the Suicide, which was originally built in Atlanta in 1990, then Prague in 1991, honors the Czech dissident Jan Palach, whose self-immolation in protest of the Soviet invasion of 1968 served as a galvanizing force against the communist government in Czechoslovakia. A plaque at the base of the monument displays the poem The Funeral of Jan Palach, by former School of Architecture Professor David Shapiro," says The Cooper Union.
Robert Slinger, a founding partner of Berlin-based practice Kapok, narrates the story of a building "too radical to implement and too relevant to ignore." Having lived in John Hejduk's Kreuzberg Tower for eight years, Slinger "came to understand how Hejduk’s architecture both flexibly accommodates and yet asserts a presence which resists any attempts to co-opt it. Whilst impressed by its powerful exterior presence, its austerity and frontal directness left a strangely cold impression upon me."
"A house knows who loves it." – John Hejduk