Prague, Czech republic
Two Stage International Urban Planning Competition
The Prague Institute of Planning and Development
Martin Arfalk, Patrick Verhoeven,
Katerina Vondrova, Cyril Pavlu, Suzanne Bergvall, Kinga Zemla, Suzete Timba
Květoslav Syrový, Linda Ryšavá, Krištof Hanzlík
Reclaiming a public space for the people of Prague
Victory Square is located in the centre of Prague - in a popular residential district with booming gourmet scene, calm green streets, universities and local shops and enterprises. The square is one of the first public spaces that visitors - coming to Prague from the airport - might encounter. By redesigning the space the City of Prague have a great opportunity to reshape a district, and alter the image of the city as a whole.
Currently, the space is dominated by traffic infrastructure. As a result, the traditional functions of the square are pushed to its edges. The centre is inaccessible to foot traffic and makes the Victory Square feel vast, empty and isolated. With the implementation of traffic light signalling the flow and function of traffic is greatly improved and the overall space for traffic is minimised. The reclaimed space is then reconnected to the square’s edges.
Without weakening the square’s formal geometry, the entire space is embraced by a circular cluster of trees. The Gleditsia trees with subtle, transparent canopies are organised through a regular grid, enhancing the symmetry of the square’s main axis. The tree grid unites the divided segments, forming a coherent whole and establishes a green gateway into the city. A diversity of edge conditions are created by shifting the tree grid slightly towards the west. The shift allows for more spatial variety and flexibility along the square’s edges. The ground is paved with sturdy granite pavers, forming a robust and continuous urban carpet. The varying shades and materiality reminds visitors of the craftsmanship and textures of Prague’s cobblestone sidewalks and squares. The granite joins the trees in uniting the space, but is broken down by areas of gravel and grass to add opportunities for water permeability along the surface.
Four social anchor points are distributed across the square - the pavilion, playground, bench and market. They activate the space and act as orienting landmarks for visitors. The bright colours and sculptural qualities of the furniture provide a strong identity to the square. The large elements are supported by a collection of simpler furniture that ensures people’s needs are met over the whole surface. Together the trees, paving, social anchor points unify the once divided square. The vision respects the historical context of the square, while reclaiming space to create an exciting social meeting place for all.
The square is a prominent open urban space defined by its proud buildings. It is a place of possibilities.
We invite the city to the square by creating a unified, public and inclusive space for all.
A crown of trees provides a haven for flora and fauna, softening the hard surfaces of the square and reminds of Prague’s natural landscapes.
1. Fragmented space
Today, infrastructure divides the space in to fragmented, isolated islands. The void at the centre makes the space larger and emptier.
2. Unify the space
While holding on to the formal geometry of the space, we propose to link the separated areas with one coherent form - a planted circle of trees. The infrastructure is streamlined to reclaim space, while maintaining its function.
3. Nudge it!
By pushing the circle from the exact centre of the square, we create spatial variety along its edges. One side becomes a green entrance, the other an open flexible space.
4. Public space from edge to edge
The fragmented square is repaired through a continuous urban carpet that forms one clear and coherent spatial identity throughout the square.
5. Social anchor points
Along the edges of the circle four main anchor points - a pavilion, playground, bench and market - are distributed. They activate the space and form clear landmarks for orientation.
6. Unified activated and social square!
The ring of trees, anchor points and continuous urban carpet come together to create a coherent and people friendly public space that redefines the district and one of the main entrances to Prague!
Tying the square together
The tree canopy embraces and unifies the public space and allows for different uses within and around its edges. The social anchors provide a strong identity and activate the square.
Active square from edge to edge
An active ground floor of the buildings on the edges of the square is connected by a continuous carpet of granite pavers, broken up with permeable areas of grass and gravel.
Four social anchor points
Four social anchor points - the bench, playground, pavilion and market - activate the space and act as orienting landmarks for visitors.
Inclusive public space for all
The Victory square is a place for all - people spending time under the trees, waiting for the tram, enjoying the fresh coffee in the pavilion or just passing by on tram or bike.
An embracing tree crown
The square is embraced by a tree canopy that offers a shelter for the users and creates green gateways into the square.
Community social corners
The community bench acts as an important meeting spot for different user and age groups and allows for various activities under the translucent tree canopies, day and night.
The perimeter of the square with continuous carpet of granite pavers is altered by permeable areas of grass and gravel, creating natural zones for different uses and activities on the square.
Accessible and clear urban landscape
The organisation of the space creates an easy orientation within the space. The tree grid allows for visual contact over the square while offering shared areas for various activities to take place within the space.
Flexible square for all
The flexible part of the square can accommodate various community gatherings and events that bring the people together, such as nowadays popular farmer's market.
The square makes use of passive, decentralised stormwater management and dense tree planting to mitigate the heat island effect, purify air and water, and improve local animal habitats.