Preservationists slam Jiřičná design for new Prague high rise development

Photo: Central Group

Plans were recently revealed for a major, and striking looking, development project that would transform part of Prague’s Žižkov district. However, a conservation group has now come out against the design, which is the work of the top Czech architect Eva Jiřičná.

Photo: Central Group
Last month the news website Aktuálně.cz published images of plans that would radically transform a section of Olsanska St. in Žižkov that is currently home to a building formerly used by the company Telecom.

The less than attractive site is nicknamed “Prague Mordor” after a realm in Lord of the Rings.

The designs for three undulating high-rise apartment buildings are the work of the UK-based Eva Jiřičná, who is perhaps the best-known living Czech architect.

Ms. Jiřičná won an international competition run by development company Central Group that drew almost 100 submissions from 30 countries. However, the project would still require a green light in the form of approval for a change to the city’s territorial plan.

Now the Club for Ancient Prague has come out against the architect’s proposals.

In a statement sent to the Czech News Agency, the group’s chairwoman, Kateřina Bečková, said it was not a thoroughly conceived solution in architectural and urban planning terms but a superficially appealing and flamboyant high-rise design.

The Club for Ancient Prague have therefore called on the Prague Institute for Planning and Development and the conservation department at City Hall not to support the construction project and to point out its shortcomings to Central Group before initial preparation work gets underway.

The group, some of whose members are themselves architects, say that the publication of Ms. Jiřičná’s plans by the developer was a deliberate ploy aimed at winning the support of the public with a view to seeing the relevant conservation regulations overturned.

The site is now home to a massive building with a 90-metre tower built between 1969 and 1979 by the team of architects František Cubr, Josef Hrubý, Zdeněk Pokorný and others who also designed the famous Brussels Pavilion at Letná.

It is located within what is known as the Prague Conservation Zone, where strict construction and renovation rules apply.

The Club for Old Prague say the images available suggest that the new constructions would be at least 100 metres high and would indelibly alter the Czech capital’s skyline.

The conservationists said they were not questioning the usage of the plot in question for residential purposes but were against “developers’ obsession” with leaving their mark on the city with tall buildings that impact the horizon.