Construction starts on Smíchov City, the largest development project in Prague’s modern history

After 15 years of preparation, a new neighborhood is starting to take shape in a Prague 5 brownfield

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 01.10.2020 14:55 (updated on 01.10.2020)

Work has begun on the new Smíchov City district in Prague 5. Representatives of Prague, the Prague 5 district and developer Sekyra Group laid the foundation stone for the new neighborhood on September 30. The new neighborhood in the area around Smíchovské nádraží will be built in phases and take 12 years to complete.

Reclaiming one of Prague's most attractive brownfields will become a symbol of the city's transformation in the 21st century, according to city authorities.

Almost 400,000 square meters of residential, administrative, commercial and public space will be created, including a kilometer-long pedestrian boulevard. There will also be a school and large areas of greenery. Some 12,000 people will work or live here. The total investment will reach 20 billion CZK.

Visualization of part of Smíchov City / via Sekyra Group
Visualization of part of Smíchov City / via Sekyra Group

“The newly emerging urban district is a prime example of first-class urbanism, the quality of public space and architecture itself,” Prague Deputy Mayor Petr Hlaváček (United Force for Prague) said.

“This project should be an example for all large-scale urban projects in Prague in the new millennium, and should set the right direction for the revitalization of brownfields and the quality of the creation of the built environment in the capital and throughout the Czech Republic,” he added.

Luděk Sekyra, board chairman of Sekyra Group, said he believed that the construction of Smíchov City will be a key impetus for the further development of Prague.

“Our ambition is to create a new Prague center that will become a modern alternative to the historic core of the metropolis. My ambition is for the one-kilometer pedestrian zone that crosses the entire project to create a culture of the pedestrian boulevard as a communication axis and a creative urban space for meetings and civic activities,” Sekyra said.

Visualization of part of Smíchov City / via Sekyra Group
Visualization of part of Smíchov City / via Sekyra Group

The project launch was preceded by 15 years of preparation, which included preliminary studies, zoning plan changes, transport infrastructure solutions and international architectural competitions. The concept was also evaluated by UNESCO commissioners, who said the development will not interfere with Prague’s UNESCO World Heritage status.

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Sekyra said priority was put on developing the public space to favor people, not cars. The developer also used the idea of participatory planning, involving all stakeholders, including civic associations. “The result is a remarkable consensus, as we have not seen any appeals in the zoning and construction process” Sekyra said.

Sekyra Group CEO Leoš Anderle said people in the new Smíchov City district would find everything they need to live. “The new district is designed according to the principles of the city of short distances. It will offer work, housing, services, all civic amenities and perfect accessibility,” he said.

The architectural form of Smíchov City arose from two international competitions, with domestic and foreign architects participating. This kept the project from being monotonous as each section is divided into houses designed by architects from different countries.

Visualization of Smíchov City / via Sekyra Group
Visualization of Smíchov City / via Sekyra Group

The developer will preserve the Radlická Cultural Sports Hall. “The preservation and revitalization of the community center is an expression of respect for the genius loci of this part of Smíchov,” Sekyra said.

The center is a space created in an abandoned railway warehouse as a place for meetings, culture and sports. It will become the center of a new square, adjacent to Radlická Street. The center’s diverse cultural program will also be preserved.

“[Prague] Five is colorful, growing fast, attractive. The transformation of the Smíchov brownfield is its natural development. Smíchov City brings us modern infrastructure, respects the genius loci of Smíchov, combines new and original architecture, and preserves places that create a traditional, lively atmosphere, such as the Radlice Cultural Sports Hall,” Prague 5 Mayor Renáta Zajíčková said.

Visualization of Smíchov City / via Sekyra Group
Visualization of Smíchov City / via Sekyra Group

“I am pleased with the emphasis placed on the originality and safety of public space, and the quality of life. … In short, the project excels in its approach to the location and places the whole of Prague among modern western metropolises,” she added.

The construction of the first stage of the project, which involved seven architectural studios, will take 28 months and has an investment volume of 3.5 billion CZK.

The first building, with 195 housing units, will be built at the intersection of Za Ženskými domovy and Nádražní streets. This will be followed by a 10,000 sqm office building and a 210 unit apartment building.

More than two hectares of green space will be added to Smíchov. A new primary school, medical facilities and a bridge connection with the renovated Smíchovské nádraží transportation hub are planned.

Visualization of Smíchov City / via Sekyra Group
Visualization of Smíchov City / via Sekyra Group

The southern part of the almost kilometer-long pedestrian boulevard will have a commercial district. A 130,000 sqm campus for Česká spořitelna will be built in the project’s second stage. The total investment in all four stages of the project will reach 20 billion CZK.

"I am pleased that we are gradually succeeding in healing Prague’s scars. In this respect, Smíchov City is the first brownfield to be transformed into a lively and functional district. However, there are still many similar places — Bubny-Zátory, nákladové nádraží Žižkov or Hloubětín, for example, are other challenges that lie ahead,” IPR Praha director Ondřej Boháč said.

Infrastructure investments are also part of the overall plan. A lot for buses and more than 1,000 cars will be built next to Smíchovské nádraží, where a substantial part of the traffic from the current Knížecí bus depot will be moved. This investment, made by the capital, will require more than 2.5 billion CZK.

Visualization of Smíchovské nádraží / via IPR Praha
Visualization of Smíchovské nádraží / via IPR Praha

The Railway Administration is carrying out a major modernization of Smíchovské nádraží and its surroundings for approximately 3 billion CZK.

Deputy Mayor Hlaváček said the project represents a balanced and comprehensive design. “The solved area is directly connected to the emerging revitalization projects for the whole part of the city, including fundamental modifications concerning the train and bus terminal, the whole transport system and other projects related to this area,” he said.

“The planned boulevard with an active urban parterre, spaces and vegetation emphasizes the direct connection from the northern part of the territory to the transport hub and will become a significant new element, newly defining the character and permeability of the territory,” he added.