Mural of Bohumil Hrabal on Na Hrázi Street / via Raymond Johnston

Palmovka to honor local writer Hrabal with a new and improved square

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The square named after Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal should become a center point eastern Prague as part of the transformation of the Palmovka area. The entire transformation of the area is still being planned out, but some work is already set to be completed this year.

Even before the new territorial plan is made, preliminary changes to náměstí Bohumila Hrabala will take place. Currently, the overgrown area with an aging bus terminal is hard to navigate.

This year, the city should have the local tram junction paved and the adjacent public space altered to make it barrier free, clear and more accessible for pedestrians. Overgrown elevated areas will disappear.

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Náměstí Bohumila Hrabala / via Raymond Johnston

The space will also be complemented by new municipal furniture, and the pedestrian zone should be extended to the area of the intersection. After modifications, a container café should be located here.

A planned territorial study, when finished, will deal with the completion of the square. “Today it is more of a street divided by an ugly bus station. In the future, however, the whole place should become the center of Palmovka and, above all, a relaxation zone with seating,” Prague 8 Councilor Tomáš Hřebík (United Force for Prague 8) told daily Mladá fronta Dnes.

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The Prague 8 Town Hall said the dominant feature of the square will be a work of art featuring Hrabal, whose works include the novels Closely Watched Trains and I Served the King of England. Náměstí Bohumila Hrabala was named for the writer in 1999. He used to live in the area on Na Hrázi Street in a building that no longer exists.

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Náměstí Bohumila Hrabala / via Raymond Johnston

The multifunctional project One Palmovka, with a shopping center and apartments, will also change the character of the square when it is built on the square’s north side. The plan already has a zoning decision. Construction could begin within two years, and by 2025 the complex could be completed.

Further development toward the bridge Libeňský most, though, requires changes in the zoning plan to allow the completion of streets and new buildings. This will be overseen by the newly established city company Pražská developerská společnost.

People can see some of the already planned future of the Plamovka area and make comments. An info container has been set up at the Palmovka tram junction.

Broader changes to the area will depend on a territorial study that will soon start to take shape. The creation of the study was approved by the Prague 8 Town Hall in mid-May.

The overall concept for making a territorial study was accepted across the spectrum of representatives of the Prague 8 district. This paves the way for actually making a coherent plan for Palmovka. Coordinated development has long been neglected due to complex property relations and the unclear future of transport infrastructure, according to the Prague 8 Town Hall.

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Overgrown area by the Palmovka tram junction / via Raymond Johnston

“The territorial study is being prepared in anticipation of extensive construction activities, especially in connection with the ongoing transformation of Karlín. It should be a guarantee of the creation of a continuously high-quality urban environment,” Prague 8’s Hřebík said in a press release.

“I am very pleased that such a fundamental document, which will affect the future of Palmovka for decades, has gained the trust not only of the Prague 8 Town Council, but also of Prague City Hall and the Prague Institute of Planning and Development. It is a positive signal to the public that Palmovka will really undergo the transformation it deserves and for which we have been awaiting many years,” he added.

The preparation of the assignment for the territorial study began almost a year ago. The assignment was prepared by the Department of Spatial Development of the City of Prague, in cooperation with the city district of Prague 8 and the Prague Institute of Planning and Development (IPR Praha).

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Náměstí Bohumila Hrabala / via Raymond Johnston

Experts in territorial development and transport took part in the assignment’s preparation. The working versions were continuously commented on by relevant municipal and professional architectural entities. The assignment was also presented to the representatives of the Prague 8 district, who had the opportunity to comment on it.

The study generated from the assignment will be the basis for the changes to the city’s zoning plan and will also be reflected in the Metropolitan Plan.

Simply put, all future construction in the area will already be governed by clear rules, according to Prague 8. The study will determine public spaces, parks, layout of buildings, height levels of buildings and other character of the area.

The assignment emphasizes the planning of green and blue infrastructure and fundamentally focuses on the overall traffic calming of Palmovka. Green infrastructure refers to trees and other plants, while blue refers to both natural and artificial water features. The content of the assignment can be viewed online on the Palmovka Teď (Palmovka Now) website.

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Tram stop benches with the Palmovka Teď logo/ via Raymond Johnston

“An important part of the coming months will be an information office, guided walks and exhibitions. There is no doubt that there is great interest in the Palmovka area on the part of the public. Already now we are seeing interest from those who want to get involved in the transformation of the territory,” Petr Pelc, coordinator for Palmovka Teď, said.

“And it’s not just about comments on the territorial study. We hear from volunteers who want to help, for example, with the cleaning and cleaning of selected areas in Palmovka. We continuously update all information for connection on our website. Thanks very much to everyone who cares about Palmovka,” he added.

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New benches and a book exchange at a Palmovka tram stop / via Raymond Johnston

Palmovka is already gradually changing. The tram stop at Na Žertvách has been paved and  and a bookcase have been placed on it. This is in addition to changes at náměstí Bohumila Hrabala.

With the Prague Public Transit Company (DPP), the district is also starting negotiations on the use of the first floor of a public transit building and its surroundings. The second floor will serve as a dignified place for tram drivers, who are now crammed into the ugly changing booths in Na Žertvách Street. “The public will also decide on the use of the surroundings of the transit building and on all the activities that the transformed space will offer for the inhabitants,” Pelc said, adding that there will also be a promenade to the riverfront.

In recent years, the Karlín Section has Prague has been seeing a lot of development, and eventually this will include the re-creation of the island Rohanský ostrov, which borders on Palmovka. Developers have now turned attention to the Palmovka area, with developments such as Dock, Palmovka Open Park and One Palmovka.

Plans to build a new center called Nová Palmovka, which would have brought together the Prague 8 administration and emergency services, came to a halt in April 2019.

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Visualization of One Palmovka / via Landia Management

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