Vizualization of Centrum Nového Žižkova. via Central Group

Prague officials dislike Žižkov skyscrapers, but Central Group hopes to sway public opinion

Developer Central Group will soon unveil a modified plan for the site in Prague’s Žižkov district
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A controversial proposal for high-rise apartment towers in Prague’s Žižkov district is unlikely to go forward in its present form, but a modified design will soon be presented during a public meeting

The three circular towers, designed by Czech-British architect Eva Jiřičná of AI Design, were to go up on the site of the Žižkov’s Central Telecommunications Building (ÚTB) complex at Olšanská and Jana Želivského streets.

The current concept for new towers does not have the support of the city or the Prague Institute of Planning and Development (IPR Praha). “I do not agree with the proposal,” Prague Deputy Mayor Petr Hlaváček (United Force for Prague) said, according to daily Pražský deník.

Overview of Centrum Nového Žižkova. via Central Group

Architect Lada Kolaříková, a member of an independent advisory council at IPR Praha, said the proposal is wasted opportunity for the investors. “I am sorry for the effort and energy, but the result is not in line with the city’s vision [for] Olšanská and Želivského streets,” Kolaříková said.

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More criticism came from architect Pavla Melková, director of the IPR Public Space Office co-owner of MCA atelier. She said better results are achieved when all interested parties are consulted.

Not everyone agreed. “Competitions around the world are intended to show the possibilities of the territory. If we don’t try, we don’t know,” IPR board member Jan Jehlík said.

Proposal for Centrum Nového Žižkova. via Central Group

Jiřičná’s plan for a development called Centrum Nového Žižkova won an architectural competition earlier this year organized by developer Central Group. In an unusual step, the developer did not consult with the city or IPR Praha ahead of the contest.

Some 98 architectural studios from 30 countries participated in the competition, and a jury narrowed that down to 12 finalists including Japan’s Sou Fujimoto, Britain’s Ian Ritchie.

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The contest rules in the final round asked people to create residential buildings up to 100 meters high, although the city’s master zoning plan does not allow for this height. The Metropolitan Plan envisages a maximum height of 20 floors. The existing Central Telecommunications Building reaches 96 meters.

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Balcony view from one of the towers. via Central Group

In September, the Prague 3 district voiced its disapproval to the proposed high-rise towers. Prague 3 asked the city to prepare an urban and transport study to determine the ideal building capacity for the area, which includes not only the Centrum Nového Žižkova site, but also the Žižkov Freight Station (nákladové nádraží Žižkov), which will be developed into a new neighborhood with a school and the National Film Archives.

Central Group still hopes to get the public on its side, and will hold a “large and balanced” public discussion at Palác Akropolis on November 14. Jiřičná will be present at the debate and show a modified version of the project to the public for the first time. Central Group will discuss its financial and other contributions to the Prague 3 district. The developer claims, for example, a kindergarten and large playground will be included in the project, as was previously agreed with the district.

They will also discuss financial advantages for citizens of Prague 3 and people who sign up for permanent residence in the flats. Concerns about traffic and other impacts will also be covered.

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Centrum Nového Žižkova
Visualization Centrum Nového Žižkova. via Central Group

“Architect Jiřičná plans to transform this large retired complex into a lively local center with about 1,000 apartments and a range of services, shops, restaurants and cafes. The proposal foresees that a unique public space with extensive greenery, water features, and works of art will be created on almost 70 percent of the total land area of 40,000 square meters. In combination with a lively urban park and extraordinary architecture, a truly unique ‘New Žižkov Center’ can be created here,” Central Group said in its announcement of the public meeting.

In any event, the Central Telecommunications Building, now known as the CETIN Building, will be torn down, as it is not possible to renovate it into a new purpose and it is no longer needed as a telecommunications hub. The building, nicknamed Mordor, was built between 1972 and ’79. It was the tallest building at that time in Czechoslovakia, and tallest telecom building in Europe.

CETIN building. via Raymond Johnston
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