The Victory Square, literally heart of Prague 6, is a lately developed area differentiating from the old city with abruptly emerging wide boulevards flowing to a unique horseshoe shape. A.Engels planned it as an urban square which in time became severely inhuman, amplified by heavy traffic turning into a non-permeable urban void, unattractive to be claimed as a vibrant public space. A simple solution is created through transitional and functional integration to uncover the potential of this urban void. As the horseshoe employs necessary daily activities for living, the transition to the circle of the roundabout welcomes social community activities unified around the ring isolated by a thick urban jungle.
URBAN MORPHOLOGY : THE LITTLE, THE OLD AND THE NEW
The historic city of Prague developed on both sides of the Vltava river in an irregular, tortuous layout with its sublime medieval grid and sinuous streets. The Little City / Mala Strana and the Old City / Stare Mesto are strictly bounded with natural geographical elements: the river and the hill. The north and southeast of the city stayed untouched until the 19th century construction boom. The inner districts were mainly developed during the mass transit area. The outer districts, where all the city’s growth has occurred, have generally lower population densities. The project area can be spotted easily as the wide boulevards coming from the garden houses and flow into the Victory Square (Vitezneho Namesti), are distinctively differentiated from the organic and dense structure of the old city.
URBAN VOID : STREETS AND SQUARES
The cities are not static and so are the societies. Streets and squares are the dynamic networks and connecting nodes of a viable city and communities.
The streets and squares with inadequate infrastructure and unfunctional use do not help the hasty eyes and make people ignore them, perceiving as dead, unattractive, uneasy to use non-places, wasted spaces; public realms and resources. These voids can be seen as spaces which disrupt the urban tissues which neither acts as private nor public spaces. The main reason for these places interpreted as voids is that they have little or no permeability, lack social realm and give no positive contribution to the surroundings. However these urban voids with the hidden potentials can act as a catalyst in redeveloping its environment.
Multi-use of urban voids, instead of just arteries of moving traffic, can improve safety and mobility, strengthen communities, enhance sustainability and contribute to the local economy by placemaking tools. The Victory Square is one of the biggest urban voids of the Prague city and it is depicted as the heart of this relatively new part of the city which is awaiting the potentials to be revealed.
GETTING CLOSER : THE PROJECT AREA : THE HORSESHOE . THE OBELISK . THE DIAMOND. THE OCTOPUS
Victory Square is a planned urban square in the shape of a horseshoe of approximately 40.000 sqm which resulted in an area of around 8 soccer fields, with a radius of 105 meters only half of it is open to use of public realm with inadequate infrastructure and the center is only open to vehicle traffic of cars, buses, and tramways. It is a naked square with an unbuilt obelisk in the middle, intimidated by tram lines and the buildings that hold the square form a hexagon diamond shape on the outer side and it is supported with octogonal roads. The north-west side holds the university buildings, south-east part consists of residential and mixed-use buildings. The main roads dissolve into the city except for the west wing reaching out to the airport. It is the heart of a green belt within 0.5km. Within 0.2km there are three tram stops, heading from south to north and west. As the horseshoe perimeter is used as mainly for car parking and pedestrian distribution, the inner circle is a roundabout severed with tram lanes. The north-west side of the diamond is used as the main bus stop, uneasy to spot.
THE PROBLEM THE QUESTION THE SOLUTION
As a historically planned urban void Victory Square is not fully implemented according to the original plan for various reasons. In any case most of the problems occur due to its inhuman scale. It seems to be defeated by the overwhelming urban traffic. The center of the square is not reachable to people which means half of the area is an anti-space. There is no shortcuts for people. The scale is not human. How do we uncover the potential of this urban void to retrieve to the public realm of the city and as a result improve the quality of city life and make the place more attractive? Increasing permability physically and virtually will make it easier and comfortable to access and attract its users which will make them own and sustain the place
THE JUNGLE IN THE HORSESHOE
For an iconic visual impact and to give an impression of walking into a deep forest, intense, tall, local and evergreen trees are planned to be used when densifying the landscape of the horseshoe. The trees also mask the visual and aural effects of the excessive traffic flow and support a comfortable social zone.
GOING AROUND THE HORSESHOE
A strict symmetry is used when creating a transportation solution to make it easier adapting the new development. Tramway stations are located in transverse positions (Lotyyska and Dejvicka) integrated into metro system and Vitezne Namesti tramway station is removed from the equation. Also the bus stops are directly accessible from the tramway stations and metro connections.
The form of the ring derives from the transition line of the horseshoe plan to the circle of the roundabout. It is the heart of the district which makes it a place suitable for the communal activities from theme markets to art festicals, safe from the surrounding traffic flow visual and aural, creating a place on its own that shape livable communities with a unifying flexibility and freedom. The eight path leading to the circle accomodate various functions of daily life activities, like sitting, walking, running, sunbathing, coffee breaks, playgrounds, basketball trainings, sports equipments, roller skating..etc or just an extraordinary shortcut from work back to home or a place to get lost in space and time.
a space for life stimulation...
THE RING / VICTORY SQUARE / VITEZNEHO NAMESTI
URBAN PLANNING INSTITUTION . 2018 . PRAGUE . CZECHIA. URBAN SQUARE DESIGN . 78.611m²