Dec 03, 2023

Saving History or Progress? Prague’s Main Railway Station’s Renovation Sparks Debate

The Old Prague Club opposes the proposal to transform the Main Railway Station, arguing against the demolition of a significant portion of the new concourse.

The club contends that the station is a valuable structure, describing it as “one of the finest post-war buildings not only in Prague but in the entire Czech Republic,” as stated in its official release.

The proposed design, selected through an architectural competition by the Railway Administration (SŽ), Prague, and the Prague Transport Company, suggests the removal of the front section of the hall, replacing it with an open space covered with a wooden structure.

In its statement, the club emphasizes the check-in hall as an exceptional work by the architectural team of Jan Bočan, Josef Danda, Zdeněk Rothbauer, and Jan and Alena Šrámek.

Additionally, it highlights the hall’s protected status as a monument, along with the historic Fanta building, according to the Ministry of Culture. The club asserts that this information should have been communicated to the competition participants promptly to ensure appropriate adjustments to their designs.

The club finds the proposed demolition of a substantial part of the hall perplexing, especially considering its renovation over ten years ago at a cost of CZK 1.2 billion. Moreover, it expresses concerns that replacing the hall with an open pergola could diminish the comfort for passengers.

The winning proposal, by Henning Larsen Architects from Copenhagen, envisions the transformation of the new hall, adjacent Vrchlický Sady, and the tram line planned from the National Museum around the station to Bolzanova street. The central element of the design is a large wooden structure arching over the new concourse towards Vrchlický Sady.

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The new area in front of the station is proposed to connect to the main thoroughfare via a wide staircase, followed by a new crossing over the busy road to the Fant building.

The winning studio will develop its proposal into an architectural study, open to public commentary. However, the proposal has faced criticism since its publication on Monday, prompting an online petition against it, with over 1,800 supporters thus far.

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