Prague officials dislike Žižkov skyscrapers, but Central Group hopes to sway public opinion

Developer Central Group will soon unveil a modified plan for the site in Prague’s Žižkov district

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 07.11.2019 07:00:00 (updated on 19.09.2020) Reading time: 3 minutes


A controversial proposal for high-rise apartment towers in Prague’s
Žižkov district is unlikely to go forward in its
present form, but a modified design will soon be presented during
a public meeting

The three circular towers, designed by Czech-British architect Eva Jiřičná of AI Design, were to go up on the site of the Žižkov’s Central Telecommunications Building (ÚTB) complex at Olšanská and Jana Želivského streets.

The current
concept for new
towers does not have the support of the city or the Prague
Institute of Planning and Development (IPR Praha). “I do not agree
with the proposal,” Prague Deputy Mayor Petr Hlaváček (United
Force for Prague) said, according to daily Pražský deník.

Overview of Centrum Nového Žižkova. via Central Group

Architect Lada
Kolaříková, a member of an independent advisory council at IPR
Praha, said the proposal is wasted opportunity for the investors. “I
am sorry for the effort and energy, but the result is not in line
with the city’s vision [for] Olšanská and Želivského streets,”
Kolaříková said.

More criticism came
from architect Pavla Melková, director of the IPR Public Space
Office co-owner of MCA atelier. She said better results are achieved
when all interested parties are consulted.

Not everyone agreed.
“Competitions around the world are intended to show the
possibilities of the territory. If we don’t try, we don’t know,”
IPR board member Jan Jehlík said.

Proposal for Centrum Nového Žižkova. via Central Group

Jiřičná’s plan
for a development called Centrum Nového Žižkova won an
architectural competition earlier this year organized by developer
Central Group. In an unusual step, the developer did not consult with
the city or IPR Praha ahead of the contest.

Some 98
architectural studios from 30 countries participated in the
competition, and a jury narrowed that down to 12 finalists including
Japan’s Sou Fujimoto, Britain’s Ian Ritchie.

The contest rules in
the final round asked people to create residential buildings up to
100 meters high, although the city’s master zoning plan does not
allow for this height. The Metropolitan Plan envisages a maximum
height of 20 floors. The existing Central Telecommunications Building
reaches 96 meters.

Balcony view from one of the towers. via Central Group

In September, the Prague 3 district voiced its disapproval to the proposed high-rise towers. Prague 3 asked the city to prepare an urban and transport study to determine the ideal building capacity for the area, which includes not only the Centrum Nového Žižkova site, but also the Žižkov Freight Station (nákladové nádraží Žižkov), which will be developed into a new neighborhood with a school and the National Film Archives.

Central Group still
hopes to get the public on its side, and will hold a “large and
balanced” public discussion at Palác
Akropolis on November 14. Jiřičná will be
present at the debate and show a modified
version of the project
to the public for the first time. Central Group will discuss its
financial and other contributions to the Prague 3 district. The
developer claims, for example, a kindergarten and large playground
will be included in the project, as was previously agreed with the
district.

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They
will also discuss financial advantages for citizens of Prague 3 and
people who sign up for permanent residence in the flats. Concerns
about traffic and other impacts will also be covered.

Centrum Nového Žižkova
Visualization Centrum Nového Žižkova. via Central Group

“Architect
Jiřičná plans
to transform this large retired complex into a lively local center
with about 1,000 apartments and a range of services, shops,
restaurants and cafes. The proposal foresees that a unique public
space with extensive greenery, water features, and works of art will
be created on almost 70 percent of the total land area of 40,000
square meters. In combination with a lively urban park and
extraordinary architecture, a truly unique ‘New Žižkov Center’
can be created here,” Central Group said in its announcement of the
public meeting.

In any event, the Central Telecommunications Building, now known as the CETIN Building, will be torn down, as it is not possible to renovate it into a new purpose and it is no longer needed as a telecommunications hub. The building, nicknamed Mordor, was built between 1972 and ’79. It was the tallest building at that time in Czechoslovakia, and tallest telecom building in Europe.

CETIN building. via Raymond Johnston

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