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Last Updated: Monday, 14 May 2007, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK
'Octopus' library stirs up Czechs
By Rob Cameron
BBC News, Prague

Czech national library design
The futuristic design has provoked strong reactions
A controversy has erupted in the Czech Republic over the design of a new national library building in Prague.

The design, by the Czech-born architect Jan Kaplicky, seems to be loved and loathed in equal measure. Czechs have nicknamed it "the Octopus".

Mr Kaplicky has come up with what can best be described as a nine-storey green and purple blob.

Now even President Vaclav Klaus has joined the increasingly bitter debate. He is among the opponents.

Letna Plain, a dusty and windswept strip of land just a stone's throw away from Prague Castle, is to be the home of the new Czech national library in a few years' time.

The library will be purpose-built to house the country's priceless collection of 10 million books and manuscripts.

On one side, Mr Kaplicky's fans say the Czech capital should be honoured to host his latest creation.

But President Klaus said the design was so ugly, he would prevent construction going ahead with his own body.

The president's spokesman says Mr Klaus was joking, but in an architectural jewel such as Prague, putting up new buildings is always a deadly serious matter.

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