“We need to add a contemporary layer to the city”: Vltava Philharmonic will modernize Prague

Visualisation of Prague's Philharmonic building

The final design for the new Vltava Philharmonic was recently revealed. Danish design studio Bjarke Ingels Group won the bid for its vision of the modern music hall in May 2022, and has now developed it into a detailed architectural study. The space will naturally be home to the Prague Symphony Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic, but it will also serve as a public space. I spoke with Monika Habrová, Project Manager of the Vlatava Philharmonic Hall, to learn more.

Other than a music venue, how else will the space at the Vltava Philharmonic be used?

“Apart from the music, which of course is the main component, the building will be used for its educational spaces. In the building, there will be a creative hub, which will have a classroom, a musical library and a school hall. It’s designed as a space for students and kids to come and learn.

“The space will also be used for leisure. There will be two restaurants on the top of the building, one called the City View Bistro, and a fine dining restaurant. Another important destination will just be the building itself. The roof and terraces will offer new viewpoints of the city, so it will definitely be a destination for people.”

Visualisation of Prague's Philharmonic building | Source: IPR Praha

Why was the Bubny-Zator district chosen for the building? How might the Philharmonic redefine the area?

“The Bubny-Zator area is quite special in terms of its position in Prague. It’s on the river, and it’s close to every important means of transportation – the metro, the tram, and the train. We decided to build the Philharmonic here because nowadays when you look at Vltavska, it’s one huge brown field, and it’s a bit unfriendly looking. I believe the building will bring a new pulse to the district and become a key driver to its future transformation.

“You can see it abroad – these types of projects can help an area transform into a good neighbourhood or district. For example in Oslo where they built the opera house, or in Hamburg where they built the philharmonic. It helps to develop the whole area around it.”

Are you hoping the building will put Prague even more so on the map as a cultural destination?

“Definitely. Prague has a really rich cultural history, especially in terms of music and architecture. But if you only live in the past, it’s not enough. We need to be on the same level as other cities in Europe and add a new contemporary layer to the city. If we look at the buildings that have been built with a similar design as the Vltava Philharmonic, the list would be quite short. So the aim is to be back on the map.”