Prague’s Most Desolate Highway Underpasses to Get a Makeover

A new initiative, inspired by similar projects abroad, aims to transform these spooky spaces with art installations and creative lighting

Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas

Written by Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas Published on 16.05.2017 15:56:25 (updated on 16.05.2017) Reading time: 2 minutes

Mere steps from the grandeur of the National Museum, the underpass between Legerova and Vinohradská is a pretty grim place—unless you like Russian candy or Pravá italská pizza it’s best avoided after dark.

And it’s not even among the creepiest highway underpasses in the Czech capital.

These spooky spaces could soon see some much-needed revitalization if the Institute of Planning and Development Prague (Praha IPR) has its way.

The organization has compiled a list of thirty-eight Prague subways in need of thorough cleaning and new lighting, as well as fresh paint. In the spirit of similar projects elsewhere in the EU, art installations are a possibility. Shops and vendors would also give the areas a less deserted feel.

“We know that the subways are a sore point among the many public spaces in Prague. But some things can be quite easily improved,” says deputy mayor of trasnport Petr Dolínek whose initiative led to the analysis. “The first five underpasses could see enhancements later this year,” he noted.

According to IPR, their analysis revealed that these neglected underpasses have become a major barrier to pedestrian movement.

Photo: Legerova to Vinohradská / IPR Praha / Facebook
Photo: Legerova to Vinohradská / IPR Praha / Facebook

“[These underpasses] really shouldn’t be viewed only as a last resort…wherever they are, we must take care to make them feel safe and encourage people to use them freely,” says Ondřej Boháč, director of IPR.

The underpasses beneath the main road to Fügnerovo náměstí, Pobřežní Road in Braník, the bus station in Holešovice, the above-mentioned passage between Legerova and Vinohradská, and in Strašnická leading towards Gutova are first in line for repair.

Photo: Ládví metro / IPR Praha / Facebook
Photo: Ládví metro / IPR Praha / Facebook

Danish firm Gehl Architects is working with both IPR and the city to propose solutions.

The project takes it inspiration from the Frýdlantská underpass and Svinov Bridges in Ostrava, both revived with inventive decor and lighting, as well as the main railway station in Amsterdam and the Nehru Part skate park in Budapest.

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