A café where the barista knows your coffee order before you order it, a florist who asks the occasion when you buy a bouquet, neighbors who are anything but anonymous.
In cities like Berlin, these kinds of neighborhoods built on personal relationships (in German “kiez”), have become an essential part of the city fabric say the organizers of a new Prague-based initiative called GOFLORENC.
The project is taking aim at one of Prague’s most ancient streets, Na Poříčí, and the surrounding area. Named after the Poříčí settlement, which originated at the river, it is among the oldest known districts of the Czech capital. A first mention dates to 993.
Today, historians and city planners are calling the traffic-choked thoroughfare “Šípková Růženka,” the Czech name for Sleeping Beauty, and insisting that the street is in dire need of a reawakening. Architect Marek Tichý elaborates:
“The incredible immeasurability of the iconic buildings surrounding this street are something from a textbook of architecture [and yet] Na Poříčí Street is today an example of an unsightly street instead of a city boulevard. All the traffic takes place in a confusing, frequently colliding space. ”
He goes on to say that the main idea behind the GOFLORENC proposal is “the creation of a clear outline, a partial diversion of traffic, a greater share of pedestrian areas, their adjustment in the sense of residence comfort, and the addition of greenery and benches.”
The topic of revitalization here is not new. A proposal for the area was developed by TaK Architects in 2009. After stalling out, the project was revisited in 2016 follow the announcement that a museum to house Mucha’s The Slav Epic on nearby Těšnov Street was in the works.
But this time organizers are sourcing input not just from urban planning experts, but from those who call the street home, launching a survey campaign that asks residents to name the changes they envision for Na Poříčí street via a questionnaire.
According to Danus Siering, an organizer of GOFLORENC, an association comprised of local businesses, shops, and restaurant owners including Loving Hut, Vegan Market, Florentinum, Černá Labuť, and La Bottega Linka, results will be evaluated and made available to the Prague 1 Chamber of Commerce, who will submit them to the relevant authorities.
“The hope is that the community will jointly develop the dormant mechanism of Prague’s official decisions and create another friendly place on the Prague map,” he says.