Prague’s post-apocalyptic skyscraper with a David Černý shipwreck takes a step toward reality

Developer Trigema and the Prague 13 district have signed a memorandum for cooperation on the project

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 06.11.2020 12:26 (updated on 06.11.2020)

A skyscraper with a giant David Černý sculpture of a crashed cargo ship, planned for Prague’s Nové Butovice neighborhood, is one step closer to becoming reality. The Prague 13 district and developer Trigema have agreed to cooperate on the project.

A 135 meters, Top Tower would be the tallest building in the Czech Republic, displacing Brno’s 111-meter-tall AZ Tower. Top Tower would be a mix of residential space on its upper floors, plus retail space, offices and a cultural center in the lower part. Trigema hopes to get LEED Gold certification for an energy-efficient building.

There will be a publicly accessible roof garden and viewing platform. Almost the entire perimeter of Prague would be visible from the lookout point, including Prague Castle, the National Theatre, Vyšehrad, and Zbraslav. Construction costs are estimated at 2 billion CZK.

Developer Trigema has signed an agreement with the Civic Democrat (ODS) led Prague 13 district. Support was not unanimous. The Green and Pirate parties oppose the agreement. There is still a long way to go, as the project needs both a zoning decision and a building permit. Trigema hopes to obtain the permits quickly so it can start construction next year and finish within three years.

The legally non-binding memorandum was signed by both parties at the beginning of October. Trigema has agreed to invest approximately 36.5 million CZK to transform the tower’s surrounding area. The modifications will include the revitalization and increase of the parking capacity in Ovčí hájek Street, modifications to the pedestrian zones between the Nové Butovice metro station and at the Lípa polyclinic, revitalization of the underpass under Bucharova Street and construction of a new passage under Seydlerová Street.

Trigema will also give 30 million CZK to Prague 13 to develop education and transport within two years when a valid building permit is issued. The company will also develop a project for a parking garage on the site of the current one at Petržilkova Street. The garage would be built by the city. The memorandum should be followed by a binding contract within one year of the issuance of the zoning decision.

Visualization of the lower level of Top Tower / via Trigema
Visualization of the lower level of Top Tower / via Trigema

The city district has promised that, if all obligations are met by the investor, it will support the permitting processes for the project. An exception to the municipal zoning plan will be needed. This has to be approved by Prague City Hall, based in part on an opinion from the city district. The district also offers opinions for construction permits.

Opponents claim the impact of the skyscraper on the location and local residents was not sufficiently assessed. “We have also repeatedly asked for a statement from district authorities on this plan, but it has always been evasive, saying that nothing is known yet,” Prague 13 Assembly Members Václav Hrdlička (Pirates) and Zuzana Drhová (Greens) said.

According to them, the memorandum was to be discussed by the District Assembly and signed only after all information was known, including the evaluation of the change in the zoning plan.

Visualization of Top Tower / via Trigema
Visualization of Top Tower / via Trigema

District Mayor David Vodrážka (ODS) said the agreement is advantageous for the city district.

“The project was approved by municipal Committee for Territorial Development, where a representative of the Pirate Party voted for. In our opinion, this is an exemplary cooperation with the investor, which the Pirate Party certainly supports, as it had a significant influence on the memorandum between the investor and the city district,” he said.

The Top Tower would connect to an almost kilometer-long pedestrian zone from the Nové Butovice metro station through Sluneční náměstí to the Hůrka metro station. Sculptor David Černý and architect Tomáš Císař from the Black n ́Arch studio took part in the design of the 135-meter-high building. The building itself is 125 meters high, and Černý’s shipwreck sculpture extends an additional 10 meters.

Top Tower looks as if the metal frame of a tanker ship has collided with modern high-rise. The ship will be covered in greenery. It is meant to evoke a post-apocalyptic scene, and draw attention to environmental issues.

Early sketch of Top Tower / via Trigema
Early sketch of Top Tower / via Trigema

The skyscraper will be near Černý’s already built Trifot sculpture and Cyberdog cafe, which was also partly developed by Černý.

This is not the only proposed building to include large sculptures by Černý. The Nová Invalidovna project in Prague 8 has giant figures looking as if they support the facade. He also has sculptures at the recent Waltrovka complex in Prague 5. A locomotive-shaped walkway between two buildings in Prague 9, inspired by the famous photo 1895 Montparnasse derailment, is also planned.