Future look of Prague’s neglected Florenc area unveiled

The winner of an international design contest to create a new neighborhood has been announced.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 02.12.2021 13:40:00 (updated on 08.12.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

The future look of the area around the Florenc bus depot and metro stop has been revealed. The area just one kilometer from Old Town Square will acquire newly designed streets, squares, and residential buildings. The edge of Prague’s Karlín district has long been neglected and rundown.

Prague City Hall along with the owners of the land – ČSAD Praha Holding and Masaryk Station Development – announced the Florenc21 competition called in March 2021. The winners, known as Team 24, consist of Unit architekti, A69 – architekti, Marko&Placemakers, European Transportation Consultancy, Ecoten, and Terra Florida. 

An international jury took public opinion into account in making their decision. There were 57 entries, with two teams tying for second place. The contest was held with the support of the Prague Institute of Planning and Development (IPR Praha).

Overview of the Florenc21 project. (Visual: Team 24)
Overview of the Florenc21 project. (Visual: Team 24)

The winning proposal creates a district with traditional streets defined by building facades with shops and restaurants on the ground floor. The proposal connects all the surrounding neighborhoods and solves problems created by the existing vehicle traffic.

The site will be crossed with many streets and alleyways to make the neighborhood highly permeable. Even before the main thoroughfare, the team has placed a multifunctional building inspired by the First Republican palaces on Na Florenci Street, IPR Praha said in a press release.

A triangle formed by the two arms of the Negrelli Viaduct at Křižíkova Street can be transformed into an urban market. Stalls and shops can also occupy the arches directly under the bridge. The next step will be to develop the proposals into an urban study.

Overview of the Florenc21 project. (Visual: Team 24)
Overview of the Florenc21 project. (Visual: Team 24)

“A key part of the whole area is the Prague magistrála (highway), which the contestants addressed in their designs. The winning design considers a future solution for the arterial road in the Těšnov area that provides an opportunity for the creation of a new urban park,” Prague Deputy Mayor Petr Hlaváček said.

“As a result, the debate about it is deepening again. I am pleased that a highly qualified jury with strong opinions was assembled to select the best proposal. I believe that with this step we have moved a few kilometers towards Europe,” Hlaváček added.

Petr Zeman, chairman of the City Council Committee for Territorial Development, said he was glad that the city has been a force defending the city's interests, while at the same time being a partner that helps coordinate the complex processes in the city such as zoning, property, transport, heritage, and issues related to the blue-green infrastructure.

Part of the Florenc21 project. (Visual: Team 24)
Part of the Florenc21 project. (Visual: Team 24)

“The competition will thus result in a functioning city organism, a city of human dimensions and quality public space. Congratulations to the winning team, which has fulfilled this concept in the best possible way, but I would not like to forget all those who participated in the assignment and preparation of the competition,” Zeman said.

IPR Praha director Ondřej Boháč said Florenc is a scar in the city that will finally be healed thanks to this competition.

“I would therefore like to thank the current city administration for having achieved a miracle in a very short period of time because they managed to reach an agreement with all politicians, investors, and owners. I am very happy that in this case a competition with public participation was chosen and I believe that this will be the standard in the future,” Boháč said.

Florenc will not lose its current key function a bus station connecting Prague with the whole of Europe. In the future, the station will undergo modernization and integration into the city's structure. The winning team will work closely with the bus station operator, ČSAD Praha holding, to further develop the vision for the future of the bus station.

Part of the Florenc21 project. (Visual: Team 24)
Part of the Florenc21 project. (Visual: Team 24)

Pavel Vráblík of ČSAD Praha Holding said this was the first attempt to create living space in this area while maintaining and developing the existing infrastructure. He pointed out that the competition has some unique features not seen before in the Czech environment.

“It is a very complex task to combine infrastructure with the city, in addition to using it in a new way and connecting it. The choice of a non-anonymous competition workshop was very important. It enabled direct interaction between teams, the jury, clients, and experts. This shows that for such complex areas it is the most suitable way of finding a solution. [It was] unique and exemplary for the Czech environment,” Vráblík said.

Petr Palička, director of Penta Real Estate, said his company began to deal with the Florenc area about 20 years ago. “Several studies have been developed over the years, but none of them have addressed the whole area well. In 2020, there was a mutual agreement between the city and landowners to organize an international urban competition. But we had no idea how big a task ahead of us,” he said.

“Now I have a good feeling that we could not do more for Prague than invite architects from all over the world to create the solution, and have the whole competition moderated and judged by a very strong jury,” Palička added.

Penta is also developing the nearby area next to Masarykovo nádraží. Construction has already begun there on one of the last buildings designed by British-Iranian architect Zaha Hadid. She also designed other office buildings for what is now part of the Florenc21 site, but the original project was scaled back to allow for more housing and less office space. The original designs were no longer suitable so the new competition was announced.

The final three designs of the Florenc21 development were shown in an exhibition at the Center for Architecture and Metropolitan Planning (CAMP) so the public could comment on them. All three proposals can be viewed in CAMP until Dec. 5, 2021.

Prague is undergoing a large transformation, with new large residential projects planned such as Smíchov City, the Bubny-Zátory brownfield, the Nádraží Holešovice area, the Žižkov Freight Station, the Modřanský Cukrovar development, and the Nové Butovice neighborhood.

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