Prague's Kasárna Karlín cultural center forced to close with immediate effect

A Prague 8 authority says that the outdoor and indoor center – in operation since 2017 – has repeatedly violated building rules; the closure is indefinite. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 05.06.2024 10:30:00 (updated on 05.06.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Prague 8 Building Authority has with immediate effect banned all activities at the popular Kasárna Karlín cultural and social center, citing illegal use of interior spaces. District spokesman Martin Šalek confirmed that the center has been using spaces not approved or structurally intended for its operations.

The center, which opened to the public in June 2017, has been a popular spot for film screenings, concerts, and other events. It also had a bar, cafe, courtyard, volleyball court, and sauna in operation.

However, the building authority found repeated violations of building codes and called on the operator to correct them. Despite efforts to comply with all formal obligations, the center has been forced to close its doors.

Since January this year, the City of Prague has owned the entire heritage-protected site, which claimed it as part of an exchange with the Czech state. 

Fighting back

"We have been working tirelessly to ensure that all formal obligations are fulfilled on our part," Radek Pavlovič, spokesperson for the center, said in response to Tuesday’s decision. "We have removed all substantive and formal defects found on site by the building authority and have already submitted an application for an additional construction permit, including all necessary documents."

The decision to close the center has disappointed and surprised city officials and the public. Prague Councilor Adam Zábranský expressed regret and emphasized the importance of following the law.

"We stand by the fact that the center should remain in the barracks," Zábranský said. "However, it is not possible to act in violation of the law. When the building authority of Prague 8 has banned the activity, there is no choice but to obey it," he added.

"It is important to preserve and continue to develop the unique social place that Karlín Barracks are," the center responded Tuesday on social media site Instagram.

A chance to reopen

The city organization Prague Development Company will prepare a document proposing potential uses for the space. These may include educational and social activities, as well as housing for students.

The decision to close the center has raised questions about the building authority's role and responsibilities; whether it is actually in a position to make this ruling. The city is now discussing a zoning change that could allow the center to resume its operations. In the meantime, the center remains closed, but the organizers are determined to work with the authorities to ensure a safe and legal reopening.

"We hope that the revalidation process will be completed as soon as possible," Pavlovič said. "We are ready to serve the public safely and immediately."

The Karlín Barracks, a historical building dating back to the 19th century, was used for military purposes in Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. The state has attempted to sell the area multiple times in the past, but without success. 

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