Construction begins on Zaha Hadid’s office buildings at Masarykovo nádraží

The first two buildings in the long-planned Masaryčka development will be finished in 2023

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 19.02.2021 14:01 (updated on 19.02.2021)

Construction has started on two office buildings next to Prague’s railway station Masarykovo nádraží. Developer Penta Real Estate announced on Feb. 18 that after seven years they had received building permission. The buildings are among the last designed by the late British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid. Completion, including alterations to the public space, is planned by the developer by mid-2023.

The two office buildings, which will also have shops and cafes, are part of a larger project to redevelop the area called Masaryčka. It includes a new square at the intersection of Havlíčkova and Na Florenci streets, where currently there are metro exits and a parking lot. Additional residential buildings and a hotel are also planned as part of the project.

The Hadid office buildings have been modified from their original designs, and among other changes will be two meters lower and include more greenery.

“After recent security work on the walls of the pit after an archaeological survey, we are starting to establish two buildings designed by architect Zaha Hadid,” Petr Palička, executive director of Penta Real Estate, said.

“Normally, construction would take a maximum of 18 months. In this project it will be significantly over two years. The buildings have a complex load-bearing structure, and their cladding is also very complicated in shape,” Petr Palička, executive director of Penta Real Estate, said.

Final design of the Hadid buildings
Final design of the Hadid buildings at Masarykovo nádraží. (Image: Penta Real Estate)

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Hadid is sometimes called “the queen of the curve” for her signature style of modern architecture. By the end of this year, the buildings’ outlines will be visible in the form of a reinforced concrete skeleton. Starting next year, the final shape will become evident. The total costs will reach approximately CZK 2.5 billion, and the total area will reach 28,000 square meters.

Penta will start changing Na Florenci Street, including its juncture to Havlíčkova Street, simultaneously with the construction of the office buildings.

“It will expand significantly. Instead of a parking lot at its end, a small square with modern entrances to the metro, new furniture and green relaxation zones will be created in front of Masarykovo nádraží. The urban design of the remaining area from the railway station toward the main road, which Zaha Hadidová proposed in her study, will gradually take on a concrete form,” Palička said.

After an archaeological survey, which should begin in April this year, Penta will build a hotel at the intersection of Hybernská and Opletalova streets. The hotel is designed by architectural firm Schindler Seko. Penta already has a building permit, and expects to complete the hotel in early 2024. The Railway Administration will then connect the hotel area to the that of the two office buildings by building a wide pedestrian zone above the railway tracks.

Penta plans to invest about CZK 10 billion in modifying brownfield near Masarykovo nádraží. Hadid designed more office buildings the brownfield, but after extensive discussions, Penta and Prague City Hall agree that the complex would be 40 percent residential. New designs will be made, as the office building plans are not readily adaptable for housing.

In March, the company will organize an international competition workshop together with the municipality, the Prague 1 and Prague 8 districts, and state-owned bus operator ČSAD.

The study will become the basis for changing the zoning plan for the Prague 8–Karlín part of the brownfield and for the narrow strip where the Manifesto Market currently operates. After that, an international urban-architectural competition will be announced.

Penta expects to create 100,000 square meters of commercial space and apartments. It is too early to estimate either the costs of the timelines of the rest of the project, according to Penta.

Not everyone is a fan of the project. It has been criticized by the opposition in Prague 1, the Czech National Committee of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the National Preservation Institute (NPÚ) and Klub za starou Prahu (the Club for Old Prague).