Benthem Crouwel wins Velska’s design competition for Olbrachtová station project in Pankrac

Robert McLean

#cee, #proptech, #development a #architecture

The developer Velska announced Benthem Crouwel as the winner of its architectural competition held for its project to be built at the planned D-line metro stop Olbrachtová in Prague 4. The competition attracted over 70 bids from Europe, North America and Hong Kong from which the jury (chaired by Radek Kolařik) selected five to take part in a workshop in late June. Following feedback from the jury, the finalists (all international) were given until mid-September to make their final submissions. Three completed the entire process and it was the Dutch studio which emerged as the winner.

Velska’s director Tomáš Fencl said the past two months had been spent in consultations with various municipal and city planning officials in an effort to gauge what sort of reception the project is likely to receive. “We wanted to hear their opinions on how they thought the project fit the location, and the possibility of being able to go ahead with such a project.” He said the outcome of this process had been optimistic, though he stressed there are no guarantees in the planning process.

He said Velska’s ambition was always to develop a landmark project on the 9,500 sqm site. Rather than limiting participants in the competition with strict guidelines, the goal of the competition had been to help them (and city planners) imagine what’s possible for the site.

Tomáš Fencl (Velska)

“We didn’t tell the architects exactly what the volume should be,” he says. “We didn’t want to influence them. We aren’t urban planners. We’re simply a developer who wants to create something unique. Something that would bring value to the land, for Prague and obviously for our portfolio. We feel that there is a chance to do so, and we’ll do our best to process the change of the zoning.”

The winning design called for a collection of buildings, primarily residential, including a 78-meter office tower which would serve as the project’s signature building.

Velska currently envisions primarily rental apartments for the majority of the space in the new building, while around one-third could be devoted to new office space. Ultimately, however, the building’s final design will depend on an agreement between the City of Prague, Prague 4, Prague’s transportation authority (DPP), local residents and Velska. An underground vestibule for the station offering direct access would be ideal for Velska’s plans, says Fencl and there’s a Barcelo hotel across the street.

Velska’s most significant developments to date have been the Tetris office building, which it completed in 2013, Prime Pankrac (2017) and the 4U Living project. The private company, which was set up in 2008, is led by Oleg Cheremisin.

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