The three finalists in an international urbanistic competition for the area around Prague’s main bus station at Florenc presented their projects last night before a live audience. But it was the winning consortium led by Filip Tittl of Unit Architekti and Igor Marko (Marko & Placemakers) and A69 that attracted the most interest and questions from the audience. Because Florenc is a textbook example of infrastructure investments gone wrong. The main bus station may take advantage of the proximity of the Magistral road and its direct connection to the metro. But the end result is a dead zone — an urban black hole.
The goal of the competition was essentially how to heal the scars of the Magistral road which is currently nothing more than a large scar that acts as a barrier between multiple sections of Prague. In fact, the winning consortium went to great efforts to integrate not just Karlin with the energy of New Town, but Žižkov as well. Marko admitted that the current layout of buildings in their bid looks somehow messy, but insisted the intention had been to avoid the stereotypical grid found in other parts of the city. The result, he said, should give rise to its own sort of personality, not least because of the resulting squares and public spaces.
No high rises have been suggested, but higher corner buildings are proposed, as is typical in other parts of the center. The winning consortium put a great deal of thought into how to build green infrastructure into the location. Těšnov area is envisaged not only as a park to be enjoyed in good weather that acts as a sponge that absorbs water during sudden deluges. Somewhat mysteriously, Marko said that the group’s plan was an illusion and that architecture itself could not create atmosphere. The end result would not look exactly the way the pictures do. Their plan, he said, was not intended to be prescriptive, but rather as something to be interpreted.
“The most difficult thing was working with the morphology of the terrain and with barriers,” said Tittl. “The area has an unbelievable number of visible barriers like the Magistral and railway bridges but also invisible ones like the metro and future train routes. At the same time there are huge elevation differences that go from Karlin at river level and climbs up to Žižkov. All of this creates one of the most complicated areas possibly in Central Europe, which requires a very specific urbanistic solution.”
I’ll be going further into depth on this plan for Florenc’s future in the coming weeks.
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