How Czech developers are listening to Prague communities to create a better city

Upcoming developments with input from residents include a community center in a brownfield, a green school, and a skating rink using recycled concrete.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 20.08.2021 15:06 (updated on 23.08.2021)

Developers active in Prague such as Skanska are now working with the local community to make sure that projects include elements that people in the area want and need.

The developer’s task is to understand the relationship that local people have with the developed part of the city and work meaningfully with it. Newly developed areas should not be separate islands that have nothing to do with the existing location. They should complement the area and over time merge with the previous buildings. If the builder, and subsequently also the new inhabitants, approach the locality with respect, the new development is a benefit to the locality, society, and the local culture.

Building on the genius loci of a given place is not always an easy task, but if the project reflects the existing qualities of the area, it is likely that it will become a full-fledged part of the city with added value for new and original residents.

It is not necessary to dismantle everything old. Instead, we can repurpose existing elements of the place. An original object can be changed into, for example, a living community center with a unique atmosphere and a new function," says Lukáš Maděra, head of sales and customer care at Skanska.

Because new construction fundamentally affects the lives of the existing residents, it is important to involve the general public in the initial planning stages, as well as in the actual implementation and further development. Working with the local community is a valuable tool for getting feedback on the nature and potential of the place.

Maděra adds: "The new Modřanský cukrovar will meet not only the needs of its new inhabitants but also the existing residents and the city district. The whole district sets a new standard for Czech development in terms of architectural concept, sustainability, and community support.“

Thanks to consultations with the public, several current projects being developed by Skanska will feature functions and services that have been lacking in the localities. These ultimately helps to build trust between the developer and future neighbors.

Skanska in the fall will start building a new neighborhood on the site of a former sugar factory, called Modřanský cukrovar. This project, based on input from meetings with local residents, was modified to better support community life.

Public involvement already started in the earliest stages of planning of Modřanský cukrovar. Following the wishes of the public expressed at meetings, even before any construction work started the brownfield was modified to enhance community life with a meeting and event space called Cukrkandl. Community life and some of the present activities will be preserved even during the construction and commissioning of the new district.

The former sugar factory has played an important role in Modřany life for over140 years. But, after its closure and subsequent demolition, the area became a degraded brownfield. In 2015, this space was bought by Skanska, which began planning a modern residential area.

Due to the importance of the land for the whole locality, the start of the planning process included active cooperation with local institutions and the public. Suggestions that arose from this open discussion were included in the assignment for the architectural competition, the winner of which was the design of the CHYBIK + KRYSTOF Architects & Urban designers studio.

Skanska decided to use the time spent on the design and approval processes to revitalize the space and offered the land to local associations. In the summer of 2018, Cukrkandl was created – an open space with community planting beds, a playground, sports area and the Roubike bicycle café.

A new center of Modřany is now being built on this place, where, in addition to housing, a lively square with shops and a completely unique public space focused on nature, water, and community life will grow. The new Modřanský cukrovar will meet not only the needs of its new inhabitants, but also the existing residents and the city district.

The development will also have a big impact on traffic in the area. Before that issue becomes a problem, Skanska is participating in modifications to Generála Šišky Street, which runs along the top border of the development. The intersection with Komořanská Street, and other intersections, will see turn lanes added that will greatly reduce waiting time. More crosswalks with signal lights will be placed where they will be needed. Insets for bus stops and new sidewalks are also in the long-term development plan.

Modřanský cukrovar, in the southern part of Prague, isn’t the only project where Skanska has been working with the local community on projects that support not only residents but biodiversity and local wildlife.

In the north of Prague in the Kbely district, we are creating an environmentally friendly kindergarten as part of the Albatros Kbely project. As part of our Good Neighbor program, we are also building several playgrounds and extensive public greenery here," says Renata Vildomcová, head of communications at Skanska residential.

The construction of the first stage of the complex, including the kindergarten, will be completed by the summer of next year. The developer will then transfer the kindergarten and the land under the building, including the school garden, to the city district. It will therefore be a city kindergarten, not a private one. Operation is expected to start in 2023, when the first inhabitants of the Albatros Kbely project will move in.

After the completion of the Albatros Kbely project, the city district will also take over a newly built cycle path into its administration. It will be made available to the public after the completion of the last stage of the project and will join with cycle paths from Letňany to the center of Kbely, and thus become part of Via Sancta, a renewed pilgrimage route from Prague to Stará Boleslav.

A bit closer to the city center, a public ice rink has been built in the immediate vicinity of Podviní Park and the local dog training ground. The area can also be used in the summer by local inhabitants for other purposes such as walks and cultural or neighborhood meetings.

The Prague 9 district and Skanska, which undertook the cleaning and preparation of the site as part of its Good Neighbor program, contributed to its creation. In part, the project used concrete that had been recycled using a patented method. This helped to not only save on natural resources but keep waste from landfills.

This article was written in cooperation with Skanska. Read about our partner content policy here.

Find candidates in Czech Republic with language skills with Expats.cz Jobs. Find out more