Professor Ing. arch. Eva Jiřičná

* 1939

  • “Everything you do sometimes works out better and sometimes worse. In architecture, the result is never the work of one single person, although naturally I invest my heart and soul and energy into it, which is indispensable. It is the work of a whole team of people who participate on the process. And you cannot make the success or failure your own, although I always feel personally responsible for the failure. Success, though, is always the result of an amazing collaboration. And this depends on the people you work with. I have met so many wonderful people, and I certainly don’t mean only my colleagues and collaborators, but particularly the workmen on the sites, who work night and day, rain or shine, in terrible conditions, and in the process become your friends you share a cup of tea or coffee with. This cup is never clean and as you have a sip of the liquid whose colour you can only imagine, it means friendship and a certain understanding that you are all in it together. For this experience I can really just say ,thank you’. All those people you meet who actually physically carry out the work and their humour! Sometimes the architects and their assistants create a nonsensical design or ask for something that is practically quite difficult to achieve, and they have to deal with it somehow. So this is wonderful; I love being at the building sites where you meet the real people who aren’t dealing with an intellectual problem, but have a hands-on attitude, common sense, and a sense of humour.”

  • “I remember walking out of the chateaux and there were Russian tanks on the road. We were throwing flowers at them, mainly chestnut tree blossoms. For me, this was an amazing experience, the symbolism of the finished war. I don’t know what a child imagines before the war is over, but it felt amazingly cheerful and significant. And so I was jumping up and down for joy. I also remember that they threw one of the soldiers out of the passing tank. My mum, Mrs Pokorná and several other women ran to him. I was holding Jaruška’s hand and had to stay put. And they were trying to see to his wounds because he was injured but not dead. And I know from my mum that she was trying to stop one of the tanks and say: ,He’s injured, but not dead.’ And one of the officers replied: ,Nas mnogo. We are many.’ And left. What happened to the soldier I don’t know.”

  • “When they were bombing Zlín, there was an air-raid and everyone, including my mother and I, ran towards the forest. As we lived in a part of town called Díla, we climbed the hill on which it is located towards the forest at the top of it and my mom positioned herself so that she would block my view of the shoe factory that my father was in. We saw it being attacked by planes, the falling bombs, the flames. You can imagine, though, that a four-year-old could not stay still, so while the others were looking one way, I managed to sneak around my mum and saw the flames. And of course, I immediately thought to myself, Daddy! Because we always went to the factory to meet him after work. Mum kept saying that dad would be back, but that child’s horror has stayed with me, and every time I come to Zlín and I look towards the forest at the top of the hill over Díla, I always remember sitting on that patch of grass and watching the flames over the factory.”

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    Praha, 13.05.2022

    duration: 02:01:42
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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I wanted to be home for Christmas. It did not happen for twenty-two years.

Eva Jiřičná (1960s)
Eva Jiřičná (1960s)
photo: Archiv pamětnice

Eva Jiřičná was born on March 3, 1939, in Zlín. Her father Josef was an architect at the Baťa Shoe Factory and her mother was a housewife, later turned into a translator. Of the war years, Eva remembers the bombing of Zlín. In 1944, the family moved to Hostavice, nowadays one of Prague’s neighbourhoods, where they stayed until the end of the war. After graduating from a Russian grammar school in Pankrác (as of 1952, it became an eleven-year secondary school with a special Russian-language programme), she got a degree from architecture at the Prague Technical University (1956-1962) and started working at the Institute of Home Furnishings and Clothing (ÚBOK). In 1968, she went on a year’s work stay in London along with her then husband Martin Holub, also an architect. After the Warsaw Pact invasion in August 1968, they remained in London. While they were absent from Czechoslovakia, they were sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for leaving the country illegally. In England, Eva Jiřičná won international acclaim in the field of architecture. Nevertheless, she was not allowed to return to Czechoslovakia and did not see her mother for ten years. In the meantime, her father had passed away. In the 1980s, she established her own studio in London. After the Velvet Revolution, she carried out a number of projects in the Czech Republic, and in 1999, Eva Jiřičná and Petr Vágner established AI DESIGN, an architecture and design practise in Prague. She has won an array of different prizes and awards, including the Order of the British Empire. In 2022, she was living in London.