Prague’s O2 Arena now has a little sibling. O2 universum, a multipurpose cultural and congress center, will open September 26.
The opening event at O2 universum will be a concert by Czech band Kabát, with proceeds going to the foundation Let’s Give Children a Chance (Dejme dětem šanci).
“Two years after the first construction work began, a complex that is unrivalled in the Czech Republic but unique in comparison with prestigious multifunctional complexes around the world has been completed,” Robert Schaffer, the Chairman of Board and CEO of Bestsport and O2 Arena, said in a press release. Bestsport owns the entire complex.
The multifunctional center was built on the area meant for a small arena that was planned at the same time as O2 Arena was built, during 2003 and 2004. At that time, it was meant as a second practice arena for the 2004 IIHF World Ice Hockey Championship. Other areas for sports and commercial use were to be available.
But at the time of O2 Arena’s completion, work on the small arena stopped and the rough structure was used for storage.
The new complex is directly linked to O2 Arena from the south. It has four floors and total area of almost 50,000 square meters. There are 21 different-size halls with a total capacity of 10,000 visitors. The largest hall, with a capacity of up to 4,500 people will be used for medium-size concerts and sports. Every floor of the complex will have 13,000 sqm for exhibitions and commercial use. The construction budget was about 1.4 billion CZK.
O2 universum will also serve as a modern center for large international congresses and corporate events.
“Thanks to several entrances and the segmentation of the building, O2 universum can serve very well for conferences and corporate meetings for several hundred participants. By connecting all the premises it is suitable for congresses with several thousand participants. Finally, after connecting with the existing O2 Arena on all four floors, we get space for up 28,000 visitors with plenty of exhibition space, several restaurants of all categories and almost unlimited possibilities for any space arrangement according to the client’s wishes,” Schaffer added.
O2 universum will open 15 years after O2 Arena did “We are very pleased that instead of the so-called small arena, the investor finally decided to build a modern congress center in Europe that is uniquely connected to O2 Arena. It is an example of the revitalization of the brownfield area from the past,” Prague 8 Deputy Mayor Tomáš Portlík (ODS) said.
The location of both O2 Arena, which was originally called Sazka Arena, and O2 universum was a locomotive factory run by Českomoravská – Kolben – Daněk from 1927 to 2002.
The project is based on a proposal by the firm ATIP and architects Martin and Vladimír Vokatý. “O2 universum takes over its architecture from O2 Arena, only the main entrance had to be accentuated in some way in order for the building to fulfill the dominant function on the entire Českomoravská Street. By pulling out the entrance awning and using the ‘mirror’ effect, the building has a very interesting expression for both passing cars and visitors standing in front of the main entrance to the O2 universum,” architect Martin Vokatý said.
“The big challenge was to solve the acoustics so that the individual halls did not influence each other and they could run different events at the same time. It also succeeded very well,” he added.
The entrance to the complex has a glazed front façade and the awning protects visitors from the weather just in front of the entrance. The dynamic lighting extends over 220 meters with 650 hand-blown balls that have different colors and details.
Many events are already planned after the benefit opening with Kabát. A highlight will be a classical music concert on November 13 featuring Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony performed by PKF – Prague Philharmonia with soloists Joyce El-Khoura, Stéphanie d’Oustrac, Simon O’Neill, Dmitrij Belosselski.
Dancer and violinist Lindsey Stirling will appear October 8. Denmark’s rock band Voltbeat will return to the Czech Republic October 30, jazz pianist Herbie Hancock comes on November 9, and Swedish rock band Ghost on December 1.
Czech artists will also perform in the new complex, with Vojtěch Dyk & B-side Band on November 3, and concerts with symphony orchestras will be performed by Tomáš Klus on December 4 and Ewa Farná on December 7.
The first sports event will be an MMA galashow called IAF I Am Fighter on October 10.