Prague launches design competition to transform neglected train station park

The Czech capital's long-neglected Vrchlického sady will get a major facelift in coming years, with the addition of a tram stop and other improvements. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 04.06.2022 14:52:00 (updated on 04.06.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

Extensive renovations to Vrchlického sady, the long-neglected park in front of Prague's Main Train Station, have taken a step closer to being realized with the launch of a design competition that will determine its future look.

The new renovations will include three major overhauls: a redesign of the check-in hall at the train station itself, the addition of a new tram line through the park with a stop outside the main gate of the train station, and a full transformation of the park itself.

Vrchlického sady has long been known among Prague locals as "Sherwood", nicknamed after the lawless forest home of Robin Hood. Park benches adjacent to the train station are oft occupied by members of Prague's homeless population or drug users, making a visible first impression for anyone arriving to the city by train.

The new design of Vrchlického sady hopes to change that impression, and it begins with the name: instead of Sherwood, the park will be known (officially, at least) as "Nový Hlavák" (New Main Station Square), a slang term in the tradition of Prague's friendlier squares.

"The security of this area will be addressed, so that it can no longer be called Sherwood, it will be Nový Hlavák," architect Jakub Cígler, whose design studio is behind the competition, told journalists this week.

"It's a competition that should find how to return life to this place, which is currently an island between a dangerous park, a highway that runs through the city center, and railway areas. The residents of Prague hardly come here."

Map of the area that will be redeveloped. Photo: Facebook / Zdeněk Hřib
Map of the area that will be redeveloped. Photo: Facebook / Zdeněk Hřib

Because of the extent of the renovations, the new competition involves the participation of Prague City Hall, the city's public transport authority DPP, and the Czech Railway Administration. At the end of the year, they will choose three separate architectural studios to develop a portion of the new project in tandem.

The winning design and the future look of one of Prague's most neglected public spaces will be made public in the summer of 2023.

"The main railway station is undoubtedly the gateway to the city and there is no denying that today it is a shameful business card," says Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib.

"But that will change, and the change will not only please Praguers, but also a lot of tourists."

The tram line through Vrchlického sady will also connect Vinohrady with the locale, giving residents of Prague 2 quicker (and safer) access to Prague's main train station. Part of this new tram line will also run down Prague's Wenceslas Square, and be installed along with other updates to the central city square.

A tram line previously stopped outside Prague's Main Train Station until 1978. While the station provides underground access to Prague's Metro C line, those who need other transportation from the station currently need to travel about half a kilometer to the nearest tram stop.

According to officials, in addition to providing better transportation access, the new tram stop will also help keep the area safe.

“A central train station leading to a park is a rarity that has its advantages and disadvantages," says Adam Scheinherr, Prague's Deputy Mayor for Transportation.

"The presence of a tram stop before the entrance will strengthen social control and thus the safety of the outdoor area."

Future details and news about the upcoming look of Nový Hlavák will be available on its own official website.

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