Hampstead Heath – Leg of Mutton pond

Hampstead Heath in north-west London is an expansive area of woodland, open fields and fresh air. It contains 18 ponds that are scattered across the Heath. I have chosen one of these ponds and its surroundings to illustrate the ideas of seasonal changes, growth, decay and regeneration as part of a natural cycle.

First recorded mention of Heath comes in 986 when English king Æthelred II. granted one of his servants five hides of land (hide was an English unit of land measurement originally intended to represent the amount of land sufficient to support a household). Although the land had been in private hands for hundreds of years large parts of it have acted as “green lungs of the metropolis” and remained common land serving to public recreation or for livestock grazing.

The idea for ponds came in late 16th century during the reign of Henry VIII. The springs of Hampstead Heath were leased to William Paterson & Partners, who formed the Hampstead Water Company and built reservoirs which supplied water to London. These reservoirs later became bathing ponds. The area with its expansive vistas, natural and man-made beauty has always been popular with artists. Poets (e.g. John Keats), painters (John Constable), and writers (C.S.Lewis) all found inspiration here. When the Hampstead Junction railway opened in 1860 it brought many other people escaping city for roaming in near natural surroundings, especially at weekends (it is estimated that in 1865 up to 50,000 people visited Hampstead Heath at Easter). Later on it hosted bank holiday fairs, donkey rides with people fishing in the ponds or even ice skating in cold winters. To this day there are famous pubs on or next to Heath like for example Spaniards Inn (built in 1585) Old Bull and Bush (1730) or Garden Gate (1855) frequented by notable people of history.

The Leg of Mutton pond is a small body of water in West Heath named most likely for its shape. This pond was built in 1816 by damming of a chalybeate brook Brent (mineral spring water containing salts of iron). This work was commissioned as part of a relief plan to employ the poor after Napoleonic wars. West Heath and in particular The Leg of Mutton pond area was also identified as an important Mesolithic site. Excavations were being carried out here in 1976-1981 and again in 1984-1986. Myfanwy Stewart from Institute of Archaeology writes in the report Burnt stone in West Heath, Hampstead (PIA No.1 1990) that “low pH factor prevents the survival of bone. In the almost total absence of organic remains, burnt stone was the only recoverable material available in quantity for providing possible behavioural evidence to support spatial analysis of the 100,000 or more struck flakes that have now been found”. Due to ecotone created on the London clay and Bagshot sands Mesolithic people would have found here a favourable environment with supply of fresh water.

Today this area of woodland is populated by many more trees then when the Leg of Mutton pond was created. It is very popular with walkers any time of the year and in warmer months serves also as gay cruising place. Some people forage for blackberries at the end of summer as well. Wildfowl, seagull, dragonfly, kingfisher, grass snake and bat can be seen in and around the ponds.

More than two hundred years has passed since the creation of the pond and although it is man-made its look doesn’t betray it first hand. I have visited this spot countless times throughout this year and every time it may be slightly different due to different natural circumstances like growth, decay, weather and light. Changes in seasons are obvious guides I pay attention to on the way throughout the year; returning to this spot, I have created my landmark in time.

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Tomas Bata Memorial - Zlín

When I recently came to my home town of Zlín for short family stay I could not help but to visit newly reconstructed modernist building dedicated to local entrepreneur that went global – Tomáš Baťa.

Tomáš Baťa (1876-1932) established his shoe making company with his brother Antonín and sister Anna in Zlín in 1894. Their initial capital at the time was about 800 Austrian gulden ($ 320) which they inherited from their mother Anna. With his ingenuity Baťa and his company transformed not only the town itself but also shoe making business in general. He became proponent of modern production methods that he reached through “Taylorism” - scientific management that analysed and synthesized workflows (named after American mechanical engineer Frederick Winslow Taylor). During his time as business man and later on as mayor of Zlín he expanded the town as he built not only shoe factory but also auxiliaries and new quarters for workers as well as much needed infrastructure. The architect responsible for this early expansion under Baťa was František Lýdie Gahura who studied sculpture before taking on architecture. Baťa and Gahura adopted ideas of garden city movement from English urbanist sir Ebenezer Howard. Zlín as a town with the factory in its midst then became prime example of unique functionalist town (notable buildings designed in this modernist style are for example Villa Tugendhat by Mies van der Rohe in Brno or Villa Müller by Adolf Loos in Prague).

Baťa’s company has expanded beyond the former Czechoslovakia. His factories in India, Kenya, Switzerland, the UK, Canada, USA, France and other countries were modelled on the successful functionalist design that had worked so well in his Zlín. Sadly, Baťa died prematurely in 1932 together with pilot Jindřich Brouček as they crashed in their plane on the way to Switzerland in dense fog. Architect Gahura was commissioned by local authority to design his memorial and its official opening was enacted on the first anniversary of Tomáš Baťa’s death. Gahura’s design for the memorial is based on his earlier developments of standardized structural systems with grid 6.15 m x 6.15 m which he used for designing factories and boarding schools in vicinity of the memorial. The materials chosen were concrete, steel and cathedral glass. The composition of the building is trying to express Tomáš Baťa’s core attributes like clarity, aspiration, simplicity, honesty and generosity. Gahura placed the plane Junkers F13 in which Baťa died inside the building. On the ground floor were busts of Tomáš, his brother Antonín (who died much earlier in 1908) and their mother Anna. There was a footwear exhibition displayed on the first floor. The second floor remained empty.

As the Communists came to power in coup in Czechoslovakia in 1948 they designated Baťa’s company a capitalist enemy and later nationalized it (Thomas Bata jnr. then developed the brand Bata from Canada). The Tomáš Baťa Memorial was transformed to art gallery and subsequently to a concert hall. However, with all this redevelopment and new additions the original building lost its genius loci.

When The Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic Orchestra, previously housed in former Baťa’s Memorial, moved to a new building designed by Eva Jiřičná (AI Design) in 2011 it was possible to complete the project of restoring the Baťa’s Memorial to former glory. The architect for reconstruction became Petr Všetečka of Transat studio and he says that the main purpose of this building is to experience space, light, cessation of time as well as to induce calmness. The original exhibit of the Junkers F13 plane was lost in 50’s, thus the new model was commissioned by The Thomas Bata Foundation and built by Czech sport aircraft manufacturer TechProAviation. The model of the plane is supported by steel structure and has been made without the engine. It is the sole exhibit in new Baťa’s Memorial and it is a symbolic reminder of his life and death.

The new reconstruction had been managed really well and the spirit of simplicity with which the original architect Gahura designed this memorial returned again. Now even with some contemporary tinge.

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Open House London 2019 - Heatherwick studio & Aga Khan Centre

This year, as part of the annual event Open House London, I chose to visit, among other buildings, Heatherwick studio and Aga Khan Centre. Both in Kings Cross and judging according to time spent queueing to get in, both very popular indeed.

Here is selection of pictures that I took on the day.


UK Pavilion - model concept, Shanghai World Expo 2010

UK Pavilion - model concept, Shanghai World Expo 2010

Acrylic rods with seeds

Acrylic rods with seeds

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Heatherwick studio, London.jpg
Seeds - courtesy of Heatherwick studio

Seeds - courtesy of Heatherwick studio

Acrylic rods

Acrylic rods

Olympic cauldron model concept

Olympic cauldron model concept

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Al Fayah Park model concept

Al Fayah Park model concept

Aga Khan Centre, Kings Cross, London

Aga Khan Centre, Kings Cross, London

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Garden of Light

Garden of Light

Terrace of Discovery

Terrace of Discovery

The Aga Khan Library

The Aga Khan Library

Garden of Tranquillity

Garden of Tranquillity

Atrium sculpture: Rhapsody in Four Colours

Atrium sculpture: Rhapsody in Four Colours

Garden of Life

Garden of Life

Tower Bridge, London

It has been 125 years since the famous Tower Bridge opened for traffic. This remarkable structure over the river Thames was officially inaugurated on 30 June 1894 by HRH Prince of Wales – the future King Edward VII.


Barge Lady Daphne built in Rochester in 1923 passes through the bridge downriver

Barge Lady Daphne built in Rochester in 1923 passes through the bridge downriver

In second half of the 19th century the congestion of the growing metropolis was very much apparent (the problem that prevails to this day). It was increasingly difficult and time-consuming for merchants conducting their business to travel on roads from one river bank to the other, especially in the area around Tower of London or Butler’s Wharf where the warehouses were located. The Special Bridge or Subway Committee was created in 1876 to find solutions to problem and subsequently initiated public competition to design new river crossing. Over 50 designs plans were submitted for consideration. However, none was chosen at the time as different options (like for example digging tunnel) were being explored. Disagreements regarding design continued to boil until 1884 when design by architect Horace Jones and John Wolfe Barry was chosen as a winning one by the Committee whose chairman was also architect Jones himself. A year later the Royal Assent was granted to build the bridge.

After architect’s death in 1887, engineer John Wolfe Barry was put in charge of construction and reworked the design for it to work as bascule bridge. He also chose Jones’s assistant, George Stevenson to help him develop cladding which was put around structural steel framework inside the two towers that are connected by walkways. These walkways were added for pedestrians who did not want to wait around when the bridge was raised. In 1910 these walkways closed for lack of use as pedestrians preferred waiting by the bridge rather than carrying their loads up and down using stairs inside these towers.

After expensive restoration project in 1982 these walkways are once again accessible to paying members of public as part of the Tower Bridge Experience. At times it’s been also possible to glimpse raising of the bascules through the glass floors (as I have when I visited the walkways) which were recently added on the east and west walkways.

The bridge was originally painted in brown colour but then in 1977 in order to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee it was painted in red, white and blue. And again, after the restoration (in 1982) it was repainted in blue and white and these colours grace the bridge since. Approximately about 40,000 people are crossing the bridge in vehicles and on foot every day but even now the ships still have the right of way if their captains give at least 24 hours notice.

When I was celebrating New Year’s Eve on the South Bank near Tower Bridge in 1999, myself, my friend Vladimir and the huge crowds were witnessing extensive firework display above the bridge for the last time. Since the new millennium, the celebration has moved up the river (to another steel structure of London Eye). But the design and engineering of this iconic bridge still continues to fascinate new generations.

Earlier design of Tower Bridge

Earlier design of Tower Bridge

Tide: The story behind the photograph

Moonlight at St John‘s Point, Caithness, Scotland

St John‘s Point is a headland located on the north coast of mainland Scotland. Visible from this point is treacherous Merry Men of Mey – a tidal race which is formed by the rocks that extend across the Pentland Firth, channel separating the Scottish mainland and Orkney Islands. One of the fastest tidal currents in the world is the strongest on the ebb tide when the current flows east to west. Its speed can reach up to 11 knots (about 20km per hour). The tide is caused by combined effects of gravitational forces of the Moon and the Sun and the rotation of the Earth.




Tide is a phenomenon to watch out for anywhere in the world. Here, in Pentland Firth – the strait that separates mainland Scotland from Orkney Islands – tide is especially strong. In these perilous waters there are number of tidal races that make navigation difficult, even in calm conditions.

I chose to photograph at St John‘s Point for number of reasons. Topographically this place looks interesting even on a map. The promontory with certain imagination resembles an open hand with its rocky „fingers“ dousing the sea. The cliffs not as steep as in neighbouring Dunnet Head are also more accessible. Another reason for visit has been continuation of my photographic practice that deals with landscape and its use as well as man‘s impact upon it.

Several years ago I travelled to St David‘s Head in Wales to photograph location between Welsh mainland and Ramsey Island. This place (Ramsey sound) was chosen for an engineering research and development experiment when an underwater turbine was submerged in the sea in order to generate renewable energy in this channel known for its strong tidal currents. (The generating energy part of this project however, lasted only three months as the active sonar to monitor impact upon marine mammals developed fault and the turbine could not operate within its licence without this equipment being active; then the company behind this project went into administration)

Here, in the north of Scotland, between the Scottish mainland and the Island of Stroma is however an active tidal stream project. It is called MeyGen, also known as Project Stroma and it is being built by SIMEC Atlantis Energy. Topography of this location (similar to St David‘s Head), with its natural channel, was a significant factor for the placement of turbines due to high flows, medium water depth and proximity to mainland where the onshore power conversion unit building is located. The first phase of this project has been implemented and that meant the deployment of four 1.5 MW turbines. They will act as a precursor for later development of the whole tidal array in the subsea area. There are several phases for the whole project still to be completed.

Due to strength of tides and currents around Orkney Islands it is therefore not surprising that the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) based itself on these islands. They provide accredited open-sea testing facility to developers of both wave and tidal energy technologies. „We have been in a position recently where tidal turbines that have been on site, have been producing 7% of Orkney electricity, week in week out.....that is unique at the moment; what we have got to do is to make it a standard“, said Neil Kermode, managing director of EMEC in BBC ALBA documentary An Làn/Tide (A‘beartachadh an Lain/Harnessing the tide episode).

Getting to St John‘s Point wasn‘t difficult. Just a bit of walking, mainly downhill. There was a path among common gorse, a coconut-smelling thorny shrub with its yellow flowers that local people call whin bush. The sign at the end of this large overgrown area read: „This is a common land. There are sheep here on pasture. Please keep your dog on leash.“ The sheep were all around and in this time of the year grazing with its lambs. The path led me across a turfed outcrop which I later found out was a place where St John‘s chapel had stood long time ago. In 1919 John Nicolson discovered a stone slab during excavation within remains of a building. This slab, with finely incised outline of a cross, has been dated to 7th or 8th century.


St John’s Point - view towards Orkney Islands

St John’s Point - view towards Orkney Islands

St John’s Point - view towards Island of Stroma

St John’s Point - view towards Island of Stroma

What a view! I pitch my tent on the tip of the promontory. What a view! On the eastern side is uninhabited island of Stroma. On the northern side is Orcadian island of Hoy. And on the western side is elongated headland of Dunnet Head – the northernmost point of mainland Scotland. Everywhere else is the sea and the sky. The sun is shining and south-easterly wind blows steadily. Kittiwakes are flying in the air and the top of the sea stack called Man of Mey is a nest for oystercatcher. I patiently scan the sea to glimpse any signs of humpback whales, minke whales or orcas who come to Pentland Firth in late May on an annual passage through it. It is in vain though as I am too early for this extraordinary wildlife procession. I gaze long at the sea anyway. The Pentland Firth is a busy shipping channel. Tide is coming in and then going out leaving rocks of Men of Mey partially bare.

Before the evening comes, in full sunshine, I dip in the very cold sea breaking on the disintegrating jetty in one of the geos (small fjord or gully). This jetty was used in the recent past by local fishermen to land herrings, abundant fish stock in the late 19th and early 20th century.

When the sun comes down on the north-west horizon it becomes considerably colder. Different flock of small birds flutter together in the air. With darkness descending, one by one, the lighthouses in the whole area come alive. Their flashing light in frequent intervals serves for navigational aid to warn the boats and ships of dangerous areas. The Dunnet Head lighthouse (built 1831) on the mainland was designed by Robert Stevenson (1772-1850) whose descendants later designed most of Scotland‘s lighthouses. The one opposite me in the distance on Island of Hoy peninsula named South Walls is Cantick Head lighthouse (Thomas & David Stevenson, 1858) and there is another one on the northern tip of Island of Stroma simply called Stroma lighthouse (David A & Charles Stevenson, 1896) which is positioned very close to Swilkie Point – the most dangerous whirlpool in the Pentland Firth where four or sometimes five contrary tides meet. Although Robert Louis Stevenson did not become lighthouse engineer he was very much involved with the sea. He became novelist, poet and travel writer; author of notable works such as Treasure Island (1883) or The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886). He must have visited this place at St John‘s Point as he also wrote a short story called The Merry Men inspired by the infamous rocks and the tidal race (the collection of short stories The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables, 1887).

Even though there are still buildings visible on the Stroma island, no one lives there anymore. In 1901 it still had population of 375 people. This tiny island was inhabited until 1962 when most people left. The last family, the lighthouse keepers however, abandoned it in 1997 as the Stroma lighthouse was converted to automatic operation, similarly like other lighthouses at the time.


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The night is quiet. The tide had ebbed away and I shelter on the cliffs below my tent, making long exposure. Night is gently illuminated by the Moon. Being in the north in late spring means that the nights are short. It is only 2am but the clouds already display dawn colours of slowly rising sun. It has been a magical night and the light in north-east signifies it would also be a wonderful day ahead.


St David’s head (Wales) - view towards Ramsey Island

St David’s head (Wales) - view towards Ramsey Island

Landscape of Prehistoric Sites

It was still dark night when I was approaching on foot to one of the most famous prehistoric monument in the world. Traffic consisting mainly of lorries on the road A303 which passes in close proximity to the site was already relentless. Ahead I could make up silhouette of stone circle and behind it a new day was gradually coming up in the eastern sky. When I reached the fenced monument I contemplated on morning mist hovering in the fields below. The mist was resembling translucent blanket slowly changing form and position to a point of disappearing completely and revealing scenery in greater detail.

Stonehenge, Wiltshire

I was not alone here. In my view lonely and freezing security guard was moving in circles around the monument. At least in my mind, walking in his boots in these times of day, I could imagine that the surrounding landscape must present him with different moods and lighting conditions every single day. When first rays of rising sun touched Stonehenge, a large group of people suddenly appeared and quickly dispersed on the site. They came to enjoy rare one hour experience of being here; an experience enabled by English Heritage (the charitable organization responsible for looking after this monument and other sites in England). A special ticket which they had to purchase, double the normal price set to view the monument, entitled them to wander around and within the stone circle that is usually out of bounds to ordinary visitors who are only permitted to a designated pathway well off the stone structure.

Time was up for these visitants. Bathing in sunshine the group went back to the minibuses they boarded at nearby Visitor centre that largely facilitates access to Stonehenge. But there is so much more to explore around here as this landscape is saturated by various other sites concealed within it and connected to different eras of human habitation in this area. Stonehenge is however, at the very top of hierarchy among British prehistoric sites mainly for its would-be completeness, monumentality and variety of unearthed stories attached to this site which began as an earthwork enclosure on Salisbury plain about 3000 BCE.

There are many more prehistoric sites spread around the whole British Isles. In fact the countryside is dotted by standing stones, tombs, stone circles, dolmens, barrows, mounds or forts. These are highly interesting to archaeologists or historians whose perspectives and interpretations get updated with each and every discovery including scientific and technological advances and their subsequent application for new research that as a result enable us to better understand our history and to an extent our future as well. Many people however, visit these sites for various other purposes including reenacting ancient rites, noting of solstices and equinoxes, keeping up with their roots and identities or simple curiosity.

I myself slept within a stone circle near megalithic tomb in Ireland and in the second half of night got soaked up by rain for daring so. In Pembrokeshire in Wales, I walked in the Preseli hills, an area designated by geologist Herbert Henry Thomas in 1923 as a source of bluestones (dolerite) which are placed in the inner circle of Stonehenge. And I am certainly not alone in seeking unique experiences in prehistoric landscapes. Recently in Avebury, its rather large stone circle drawn in many people during first spring day full of sunshine. However, all of our wanderings and appreciations of spirit of the place are possible only for generations of custodians taking care of these landscapes and monuments throughout the ages - be it farmers, clergy and other enlightened people or institutions of present-day.

Traveling to different sites on British isles has enabled me to view in context significant era of human development and acknowledge extraordinary effort of our predecessors who, perhaps unintentionally, left behind a legacy in stonework which as raw rock was created by geological processes even deeper in time.

Preseli hills, Pembrokeshire

Preseli hills, Pembrokeshire

Stonehenge visitor centre, Wiltshire

Stonehenge visitor centre, Wiltshire

Pentre Ifan, Pembrokeshire

Pentre Ifan, Pembrokeshire

Avebury stone circle (fragment), Wiltshire

Avebury stone circle (fragment), Wiltshire

Avebury stone circle (fragments), Wiltshire

Avebury stone circle (fragments), Wiltshire

The Longstones, Beckhampton Avenue near Avebury, Wiltshire

The Longstones, Beckhampton Avenue near Avebury, Wiltshire

West Kennet Long Barrow, Wiltshire

West Kennet Long Barrow, Wiltshire

Zennor Quoit, Cornwall

Zennor Quoit, Cornwall

Chun Quoit, Cornwall

Chun Quoit, Cornwall

Castlerigg stone circle, Lake District

Castlerigg stone circle, Lake District

Stonehenge, Wiltshire

Royal Botanic gardens, Kew - Temperate House, London

Last year in May, the largest Victorian glasshouse in the world opened its doors to public once again. Grade I. listed Temperate house in London‘s Kew Gardens undertook long renovation work by architects Donald Insall Associates. The result is a huge success not only in showcasing the engineering prowess of the past and present but essentially in re-opening this space for conserving the collection of rare temperate plants – the main objective of this project.

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Kew Gardens was established by princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha who commissioned head gardener John Dillman to enlarge botanical garden planned by her deceased husband Frederick, Prince of Wales. The gardens opened in 1759 and one of the oldest plant here is tall tree ginkgo biloba planted in 1762, the year in which the first sandwich was served in London.

Temperate house was designed by Decimus Burton (1800 – 1881) in 1859. This glasshouse was then opened in 1863 but the construction continued for the next 36 years. After the turn of millennium the glasshouse was so run down that it was no longer safe for public to enjoy the beauty of diverse plants and flowers inside. With help of funding from National Lottery, private and commercial donors it was possible to start restoration project that took five years to accomplish with the total amount spent close to £42 million. Most of the plants were removed during painstaking restoration however, nine trees remained in situ as they were too horticulturally significant to risk moving them elsewhere.

The embellishments decorating the glasshouse such as statues and urns were recast to the original Burton‘s design. Burton‘s sense for architectural detail is highlighted in terracotta urns placed in each corner of the central building. These urns are in fact concealed chimneys. Their function was releasing the steam from the old heating system.

This spectacular building comprising five pavilions (with its 4880 meters square) houses about 10 000 plants in diverse habitats like for example China, Himalaya‘s, Africa, Australia or Americas. One of the most interesting plants here is Encephalartos woodii, named after John Medley Wood, curator of Durban Botanic Garden who discovered it in 1895. This palm tree like cycad, brought to Kew in 1899, has also been called the loneliest plant in the world because there are only male specimens left – the female Encephalartos woodii has never been discovered.

It will also be interesting to observe the new growth of plants in Temperate house. There are currently unobstructed views from the upper walkway and it will take some time before most plants reach maturity and therefore it is possible to appreciate the expansive view of space inside of this architectural gem.


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Short stories in architecture

Villa Tugendhat (1930)

During my recent stay in the Czech republic I visited two very interesting buildings – Villa Tugendhat in Brno by Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) and the new Saint Wenceslas church in small village of Sazovice by Atelier Štěpán. The common denominators of these two buildings is simplicity and organisation of space.

Villa Tugendhat was built in 1930 for the industrialist family of the same name. An interesting fact reveals that the design was accomplished with no budget constraints but from the street level this functionalist villa appears to be low, discreet and modest. However, the built area consists of 900 m2 with sloping and expansive garden. This was the first time in architectural history that the steel structure in the form of subtle columns was used in a private house. The building with its architectural details was somewhat related to another Mies van der Rohe’s design, the Barcelona pavilion.

Sadly, the owners did not enjoy living in their home for long as they had to flee the country due to World War II approaching.

In the meantime, it became the headquarters of Nazi Germany secret police, Gestapo. At the end of the war it housed and was devastated by the Soviet cavalry. It briefly functioned as a private dance school or a place for physiotherapy. In 1992 the villa housed historical negotiations about political separation of Czechoslovakia. Since 1994 it is open to public and the villa also became UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001.


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Villa Tugendhat, Brno, Czech Republic

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Saint Wenceslas church (2017)

The first reference about an intention to build a church in the small village of Sazovice, South Eastern Moravia comes from 1935 assembly of Union of Saint Wenceslas. Two years later after financial contributions from members of this Union a plot of land was bought in auction for a future chapel. However, the World War II put things on hold when German soldiers confiscated remaining finances.

After the end of war a new bell tower was executed in the village. Nonetheless, people still put together another pot of money for chapel but before they could start building, Communists who took power in coup in Czechoslovakia in 1948 expropriated the plot of land and the money left for building new chapel. During the Communism era it was very difficult to have any church approved and built as the only ideology officially permitted by the state was communist doctrine.

After so called “Velvet Revolution” in 1989 there were other priorities in the village to attend to but constant belief of locals in a new church has gradually transformed the idea into tangible design.

Architect Marek Jan Štěpán drew the round shape based on scale and horizontal projection of square-shaped Saint Wenceslas chapel in Prague. Round form also relates to Saint Wenceslas age (10th century) when rotundas were being built in Bohemia. Architect wanted the cylindrical volume to look light as if made from paper. The sections of façade fold inward and outward thus enabling the light coming inside.

This building is also more than a church. In the basement is small cultural centre, a space devoted to lectures, discussions or exhibitions.

This interesting building and its design has also won many architectural prizes and was listed by Azure magazine in 10 Best Buildings in 2017.

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Saint Wenceslas church, Sazovice, Czech Republic

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Malhamdale, Yorkshire, England

Watlowes valley, Yorkshire, England   Watlowes dry valley was formed by meltwater running underneath a glacier for a considerable period of time during last Ice age. The dry stone wall which extends in the valley is thought to be the oldest standing wall in the area of Malhamdale. It dates to medieval times when the wall functioned as an ancient boundary between eastern lands of Bolton Priory and western lands of Fountain Abbey.

Watlowes valley, Yorkshire, England

Watlowes dry valley was formed by meltwater running underneath a glacier for a considerable period of time during last Ice age. The dry stone wall which extends in the valley is thought to be the oldest standing wall in the area of Malhamdale. It dates to medieval times when the wall functioned as an ancient boundary between eastern lands of Bolton Priory and western lands of Fountain Abbey.


It was in Carboniferous period, about 300 million years ago, that this area of Yorkshire Dales was a shallow tropical sea. Over a time of about 50 million years a series of limestone beds accumulated at the bottom of this sea. The bedrock got composed from shells of marine organisms and chemical precipitates. Once at the bottom of the sea this limestone formation, now eroded due to slightly acidic rainfall, is to be found at the top, capping the landscape around Malham.

Malham village was founded sometimes in the 8th century. People here grew barley and oats until recently but today the land is dotted by sheep and cattle roaming among the extensive length of dry stone walls. According to survey done in the end of 20th century it is estimated that there are over 5000 miles (8 000 km) of dry stone walls in Yorkshire Dales alone. These walls are dominant feature here and the first field systems may have been built during the Iron Age (about 500 BCE) with the purpose to make livestock safer against wolf’s attacks. Most of the walls around Malhamdale however, were built or rebuilt in the Enclosure period (1780-1840) when government act gradually helped to turn communally owned land into private property. Individual landowners abandoned farming in favour of raising sheep and cattle.

Dry stone walling is done without use of mortar and as such is a disappearing skill on British Isles. Today, this unique trade supports only about 40 qualified dry stone wallers in the whole of United Kingdom.


Malham cove (Winter 2017)

Malham cove (Winter 2017)

Malham cove by moonlight (Autumn 2018)

Malham cove by moonlight (Autumn 2018)

Malham dry stone walls

Malham dry stone walls

Malhamdale limestone pavement

Malhamdale limestone pavement

Malham Tarn

Malham Tarn

Town Head farm, Malham

Town Head farm, Malham

Cheddar Gorge, England

Cheddar gorge in Mendip Hills is the largest gorge in England. This gorge was formed in limestone during last Ice age by meltwater rushing down from glaciers over period of 1.2 millions of years. The river (today called Cheddar Yeo river) gradually made its way underground thus creating a complex underground system of caves. There are now many smaller caves in the area around Cheddar as well as two bigger ones that are open to public. Cox’s cave was discovered by George Cox in 1837 and Gough’s cave by Richard Gough in 1898. The underground was extensively examined by cavers as well as archaeologists and many bones and various artifacts were found. The most distinguished archaeological find (1903) was an almost complete skeleton of so called Cheddar man which is currently on loan in Natural History Museum in London. Radiocarbon dating suggests this specimen lived here around 10 000 years ago. New research into his ancient (degraded) DNA was recently carried out at the NHM and the study proposes that there is high probability this mesolithic hunter-gatherer still had dark skin.

Due to its natural beauty and steep rocks Cheddar gorge is a great place for climbers. It is also generally touristic place that is visited by nearly half a million people every year. The road B3135 winds through the gorge and is an ultimate test for drivers, bikers and cyclists alike. Not all people come to see protected landscape as their priority because this area is also very famous for its cheddar cheese that is still being produced in the village.

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Cheddar gorge

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Cheddar gorge (Heart Leaf Bluff) by moonlight

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St. Paul's chamber at Gough's cave

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Road B3135 (Horseshoe bend)

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Road B3135 through the gorge

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Gough's cave

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Skeleton of Cheddar man at Natural History Museum, London