Pilot project for shops in Prague’s Negrelli viaduct to start in the spring

The long-term idea is to create an urban relaxation zone under the viaduct similar to Náplavka.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 14.09.2022 14:28:00 (updated on 14.09.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

Prague’s Karlín district will see some more changes. Testing will begin in the spring on opening shops in the arches under the recently renovated Negrelli viaduct. But the actual opening of shops won’t take place for at least two years, as technical data must first be evaluated.

The shops are part of a larger project to revitalize the entire area around the Florenc bus depot and metro station, which adjoins the housing and office center currently being built between Masarykovo nádraží and Florenc.

Renovations on the viaduct finished at the end of May 2020, and trains from Masarykovo nádraží have been using it to cross the Vltava river into Holešovice since then. But the arches beneath the viaduct have so far remained empty, making the area around the viaduct a bit of a place to avoid, especially at night. It even turns up in the film “The Gray Man” as a spooky area for spies to conduct their nefarious business.

Visualization of cafes at the Negrelli viaduct. Via CCEA MOBA
Visualization of cafes at the Negrelli viaduct. Via CCEA MOBA

The long-term plan, though, is that small shops and cafes in the newly renovated arches will create a relaxation zone similar to the one at Náplavka, with the renovated cells in the retaining wall housing cafes, eateries, and small art galleries.

The first step at the viaduct will be the opening of an information and exhibition center in one of the arches. It will provide details about the plan to revitalize the area, according to the city company Trade Center Praha, which will oversee the project. Trade Center Praha also manages Náplavka as well as some other city property.

Shop spaces under Negrelli viaduct. Image via Praha 8.
Shop spaces under Negrelli viaduct. Image via Praha 8.

The information center will be a pilot project intended to show the possibilities for life under the bridge. It will also be used to determine if using the arches as planned is technically possible. Data on the impact of having people in the space will be collected to see it it causes any structural damage to the arch. The assessment will take two years.

Permits for the information center are currently being processed, and it should open in the spring but a specific date has not been set. If the pilot project goes well, over 40 arches could be used for shops and other purposes.

Arches under Negrelli viaduct. Image via CCEA MOBA.
Arches under Negrelli viaduct. Image via CCEA MOBA.

The Negrelli Viaduct is the second oldest bridge in Prague, after the 14th century Charles Bridge, and the oldest railway bridge. It has been in operation since 1850. Despite the recent renovation, it still shows its age structurally. It was designed by engineer Alois Negrelli, for whom it is named.

Repairs to the viaduct began in 2017, after five years of preparation. Repairs had been planned to start in 2010 but were delayed several times for financial reasons. The total investment costs for the repair eventually climbed to CZK 1.9 billion.

Negrelli Viaduct. Photo: Raymond Johnston.
Negrelli Viaduct. Photo: Raymond Johnston.

The area around Florenc is also being renovated and will have a neighborhood with new housing and a new square. The same area will also have an office building that was one of the last projects designed by British-Iranian architect Zaha Hadid.

The plaza directly next to the Florenc metro stop is also being renovated, and a 12-meter-tall clock from the 1980s should soon be returned there after two years of restoration work. The metro station itself is also being renovated, with a lot of its worn infrastructure getting replaced.  

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