Representatives of the Sekyra Group, the municipality and Prague 5 laid the foundation stone of the new Smíchov City district. With this symbolic act they started construction which has no precedent in the history of Prague. The reconstruction of one of Prague's most attractive brownfields, the area around the Smíchov railway station, will thus become a symbol of the city's transformation in the 21st century. Almost 400,000 m2 of residential, administrative, commercial and public space will be established here, including a kilometer-long pedestrian boulevard, which will be the focus of the entire project. There will also be a school and large area of greenery. It is estimated that after the completion of the project, i.e. in 12 years, 12,000 people will work or live here. The total investment will reach CZK 20 billion.
"I believe that the construction of Smíchov City will be the key impulse for the development of the city. Our ambition is to create a new centre of Prague, which will become a modern alternative to the historic core of the capital," says Luděk Sekyra, Chairman of the Board of Sekyra Group, adding that “his ambition is that a kilometre pedestrian zone intersecting the entire project would create the culture of a pedestrian boulevard as a communication connection, but also a city-building meeting place and a place of civic activities. He also hopes that one of the newly created parks will have the character of Hyde Park and become their centre of gravity."
The launch of the project was preceded by fifteen years of careful preparation, which included a number of preliminary studies, changes to the city zoning plan, transport infrastructure solutions, and above all large international architectural competitions, which were judged by a jury consisting of the development company, city representatives and leading experts. The well-thought-out concept was exceptionally appreciated by the strict UNESCO commissioners, according to which the new development project will not disrupt the world heritage of Prague.
"We have placed the priority emphasis on public space, as this is the most valuable thing we can offer the city. In the project we emphasize its dual interaction - with both private and public life, with the civil society, this is the essence of our philosophy. This makes us different from many investors, who usually maximize the volume of construction at the expense of public space. For the first time in our capital, we applied a model of comprehensive transformation of a large brownfield, as well as the idea of participatory planning, i.e. involvement of all stakeholders, including civic associations, in project preparation. The result is a remarkable consensus, as we have not had any appeals in the zoning and construction proceedings process. We believe that this project sets new standards for the development of large areas," says Luděk Sekyra.
Smíchov City will be a fully functional district, where residences, administrative and commercial areas will be complemented by a school, parks and a community centre. All this is connected by an integrating pedestrian zone as an expression of the fact that the main priority is movement of people, not cars.
"I dare to say that the project prepared in this way for this large area of the newly emerging city district is a prime example of first-class urbanism, the quality of public space and architecture itself. I know that there is a huge amount of work behind the whole project and process. This project should be an example for all large-scale urban projects in Prague in the new millennium and should set the direction for revitalization of brownfields and the quality of the work on constructions in the capital and throughout the Czech Republic. Congratulations on this result and I look forward to the next steps," says Petr Hlaváček, First Deputy Mayor.
"People in the new district of Smíchov City will find everything they really need to live here. The new district is designed according to the principles of the city of short distances. It will offer work, housing, services, all civic amenities and perfect accessibility," summed up Leoš Anderle, CEO of Sekyra Group, the main ideas of the largest development project in the modern history of Prague.
The architectural form of Smíchov City arose from two international competitions. In order to achieve a real atmosphere of the city and internal diversity, a number of domestic and foreign architects participated in its design. Different approaches and solutions of buildings are a guarantee that the new Smíchov buildings will excel in their variety and uniqueness. The international competition was also the inspiration for a unique concept referring to the traditional Smíchov buildings, which, however, does not look monotonous. Each house block is further divided into several houses designed by several architects from different countries. This solution is sensitive to the surroundings and is based on traditional way of growing of the city.
The involvement of the public was also innovative, which significantly influenced the form of integration of green areas and a large pedestrian zone into the project and the developer's decision to preserve the Radlická Cultural Sports Hall. The preparation included a number of public hearings, discussions with citizens and presentations both in cooperation with the city district and with the Institute of Planning and Development of the Capital City of Prague.
"The preservation and revitalization of the community centre is an expression of respect for the genius loci of this part of Smíchov, an authentic space between the once Schwarzenberg’s Knížecí and the famous Magorova Oáza in the station building, whose story is also slowly coming to an end," Luděk Sekyra recalls with some nostalgia.
Radlická Kulturní Sportovna is a unique space created by a group of enthusiasts from an abandoned railway warehouse as a place for meetings, culture and sports. Its transformation was also supported by the public crowdfunding. Now, as a reference to the tradition of the place, it will become the centre of the new square, which will be adjacent to Radlická Street. The implementation team of the Sports Hall and its cultural program will also be preserved, including music, theater, stand-ups, dance, film, exhibitions, sports and other cultural experiences.
"Prague 5 is a colourful, growing fast and attractive neighbourhood. The transformation of the Smíchov brownfield is a part of its natural development. Smíchov City brings us modern infrastructure, respects the genius loci of Smíchov, combines new and original architecture and preserves places creating traditional, lively atmosphere - such as the Radlice Cultural Sports Hall. The developer did an exemplary piece of work here. I am pleased with the emphasis placed on the originality and safety of public space and the quality of life. There will be lovely places to meet and relax and schools, of course. In short, the project excels in its approach to the locality and puts Prague among modern western metropolises,” says Mgr. Renáta Zajíčková, the Mayor of Prague 5.
"We are glad that our activities have convinced locals, the officials of Prague 5 and Sekyra Group that it makes sense to preserve this beautiful space. We will use the security of a long-term contract to invest in the complex and to improve the surroundings," says Lukáš Žďárský, an activist and founder of Radlická Kulturní Sportovna.
The construction of the first stage of the project, designed by seven renowned architectural studios, will take 28 months and has an investment volume of 3.5 billion. The construction contractors are the Strabag consortium, Aspira Construction and Installation Prague. The first city block will be built at the intersection of Za Ženskými domovy and Nádražní streets. It will offer 195 housing units, of which over 60% have found their owners in the first six months since the start of sales. This will be followed by construction of an office building with an area of ten thousand square meters and another apartment block with 210 residential units. The apartment buddings have free space on its ground floor for shops, services and restaurants. Modern rental housing is also part of the plan. Individually designed houses of individual blocks will be connected by a common courtyard and a reception. An integral part of Smíchov City will be an enjoyable public space. Busy Smíchov will gain new quiet places, ideal for picnics and relaxation. The residential part will be complemented by a park, a wide, almost a kilometre-long city boulevard. In total, more than two hectares of green space will be added to Smíchov. Tree alleys offer views of Prague Castle, the Zlíchov Church or Vyšehrad. It is also planned to build a new primary school, medical facilities and a bridge connection with the reconstructed Smíchov railway station.
In the southern part of the almost kilometre-long pedestrian boulevard, the entire business district, including an extensive campus for Česká spořitelna with a total area of 130,000 m2, will be built during the second stage of the Smíchov City project. At the same time, the boulevard will be completed along its entire length and park areas will be established. The total investment in all four stages of the project will reach 20 billion.
"I am pleased that we have been gradually succeeding in healing the scars of Prague. In this respect, Smíchov City is the first brownfield to be transformed into a lively and functional district. However, there are still many similar places - Bubny-Zátory, Žižkov Freight Station or Hloubětín, for example, are other challenges that lie ahead of us,“ says Ondřej Boháč, director of the Institute of Planning and Development in Prague (IPR).
"We are really happy that after fifteen years of intensive and careful planning, we are finally starting to fulfil all our visions. Smíchov City is an important all-generation project. We believe that at the end of this journey there will be an attractive city district where people will comfortably live and work,” concludes Leoš Anderle.
Generous infrastructure and transport investments are also part of the overall plan. A “park and ride” for buses and more than 1,000 cars will be built next to the Smíchov train station, where a substantial part of the traffic from today's Knížecí will be moved. This investment, which is implemented by the city Prague, will require more than 2.5 billion. At the same time, the Railway Administration is carrying out a major modernization of the Smíchov railway station building and its surroundings for approximately CZK 3 billion. The project will significantly affect the overall concept of transport, as both the pedestrian zone that intersects the entire developed area and the surrounding streets lined with new construction will create communication axes with a new quality and function.
"The project represents a comprehensive design of the area, including construction with a balanced ratio of residential and non-residential buildings and a solution for adjacent public spaces, pedestrian roads and transport system. The area is directly connected to the emerging projects of revitalization of the whole part of the city, including fundamental changes concerning the train and bus terminal, the whole transport system and other projects related to this area. The planned boulevard with an active urban parterre, spaces and vegetation emphasizes the direct connection from the northern part of the area to the transport hub and will become a significant new element, redefining the character and accessibility of the area. The block arrangement of the buildings reflects the historical division of the Smíchov area,“ Petr Hlaváček, First Deputy Mayor.