What Will the New Florenc Look Like? Architects Showcase Its Reimagined Renaissance

Photo: Florenc21

In the 1970s, Florenc cut the highway, becoming one of the most heinous places in Prague. A hub for international transport, it’s the first thing you see when getting off a train or bus.

Now, planning is underway to transform Florenc into a livable community. Currently, there are three designs in the finals of the architectural competition.

In the 15th century, Charles IV allowed the Italians to settle in the region. This is probably where the local name came from — Florenc. Now, architects from several countries are applying to help revitalize the area. Three international teams succeeded with their proposals, and the winner should be announced Dec. 1.

For the first design, three separate groups joined together: architects from the Czech studio Unit Architekti, A 69 architects and the studio operating mainly in London Marko & Placemaker.

The first two studies took part in the Kyje-Hloubětín urban study. However, the third studio has already worked in Prague, in the Smíchov City project. The architects had sociologists, economists and experts on climate change and transport at their disposal.

This team considers Florenc a place that connects and heals the city structure or as a transport hub or a dynamic and well-functioning city center. According to their proposal, green-blue infrastructure should be built on the site, part of the city should respond to climate change, and pedestrians and cyclists should have a place there.

Photo: Florenc21

The second design is from Swiss tandem agps Architecture Atelier and IBV Hüsler. The latter studio participated in a motorway overlay project in Zurich, Switzerland. The advantage of their proposal is the search for a compromise between the canton and the city.

The studios want to respect, for example, that part of the development belongs to Prague 1 — while the other belongs to the “eight” or Karlín. The third studio involved with the Swiss project is the Masaryk railway station. This team also wants to work with water and green elements. The studio wants to involve local viaducts, with the team’s goal of turning them “into a non-residential public space for human encounters.”

The third advancing team consists of the Dutch studio de Architekten Cie., Lola Landscape Architects and the Czech studio M2AU. The Dutch have already worked on the transformation of the unused dock in Amsterdam, where the industrial character and industrial past were preserved as a space for cultural events.

The team wants to build on the heritage of Prague itself, deeming it a significant place due to the way architecture and landscape interact. “This charm is the result of the work of local as well as foreign architects and designers, who have managed to preserve the diverse mosaic of urban structure dating back to the foundations of Prague,” the architects said, describing their project.

Brownfield closest to historical Prague

All three proposals can be viewed at the Center for Architecture and Urban Planning at the Institute of Planning and Development (IPR) in Prague. They can be seen from Tuesday until Dec. 5. It is also possible to comment on them on the spot and through the website. The jury may consider public comments.

It is planned to create a new city district on Florenc, but the bus terminal and transport infrastructure should also be renovated. All this should unite the city into one. Emphasis is placed on the emergence of a quality public space where people want to spend time.

“Florenc is one of the key locations of the capital. It is a brownfield, which is closest to the city center and its transformation is crucial for the city. The area is unused and neglected. The surroundings of the bus terminal are also unsightly,” says IPR director Ondřej Boháč. The “closest to the city center” can be expressed by a distance of one kilometer. Florenc is about a thousand meters from Old Town Square.

The city fortifications used to lead here, and a certain “invisible barrier” is still visible here. The walls of the New Town disappeared in the 19th century. The space, which was then used mainly for transport, remained unused in some places until now. You can also see the Powder Gate, the Týn Church on the Old Town Square, or Vítkov, from this part of town. After all, part of Florenc belongs to the Prague Monument Reserve, and therefore also to UNESCO.

Thanks to the planned transformation, the Museum of the Capital City of Prague, the Musical Theater in Karlín and the industrial buildings of the former depot for locomotives at Masaryk Railway Station should also get renovated. This is where the Railway Museum under the baton of the National Technical Museum should be established in the future.

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