The Prague City Council approved an update of the transformation plans for Wenceslas Square. The new design will allow tram tracks through the upper part of the square and create a pedestrian promenade in the center. The project is now significantly closer to the realization, and work could begin as early as 2022.
The update by the Prague Institute of Planning and Development (IPR Praha) involves the design for the upper part of the square, from the National Museum to the square’s center. The extension of sidewalks, new alleys, a separate bike lane, and a reduction in parking spaces remain in the design.
“We will return Wenceslas Square to people, as it was in the 20th century, before people had to retreat to make way for taxi cabs, sausage stalls and nightclubs. By shifting the tram track, we can also create a beautiful pedestrian promenade in the middle of the square. It will also become available for ordinary Prague citizens,” Deputy Mayor Adam Scheinherr (Praha sobě), responsible for transplantation, said in a press release.
“The new tram line itself represents a big step towards stabilizing the Prague tram network. Alternative routes in the center will allow the development of further tram lines on the outskirts of Prague,” he added.
The original proposal to transform Wenceslas Square dates to 2005. The winning design was created in collaboration with the Cigler Marani Architects studio (now Jakub Cigler Architekti) and the DUA Atelier.
In the 2005 design, the tram tracks ran through the center of the square. Now the tracks are placed on the sides of the square, where cars now run. There will be two one-way routes, minimizing traffic congestion and leaving more space for pedestrians.
There were no other major modifications to the square’s proposed layout. The number of parking spaces will continue to be reduced, which will allow for significant expansion of pavements.
The new alleys, promenade, and new lanes for cyclists in each direction are among the planned modifications of the upper part of Wenceslas Square. The proposed cycling lanes build on the existing cycling adjustments between the Historical and New buildings of the National Museum.
“It is a priority for us to refurbish Wenceslas Square as a project on paper. The bottom part of the square will begin to change as early as next spring. We have set ourselves to transform Prague’s major squares for the better. After Malostranské, Karlovo, Vítězné and Mariánské [náměstí], now it’s Wenceslas Square’s turn,” Deputy Mayor Petr Hlaváček (United Force for Prague) said.
The changes are backed by the Prague 1 district authorities. “For many years, Wenceslas Square has been blocked by complicated relationships and projects that lay on top of each other.
“The past management of Prague 1 blocked the transformation of Wenceslas Square, and we wanted to reach an agreement with the capital from the beginning. This has now been achieved and I am really happy — we really owe it to all Prague citizens to transform the square,” Prague 1 Mayor Pavel Čižinský said.
The Prague Public Transit Company (DPP) has already selected the general designer for the tram tracks’ construction documentation. The designer will coordinate all steps with the authors of the updated square design.
The next step will be to establish a chief project engineer, who will be in charge of the technical coordination with the individual investors and designers. The overall quality of the public space revitalization and the tramway solution will be supervised by IPR Praha.
“I am glad that after the successful modification of the surroundings of the National Museum we will now focus on the modification of the upper part of Wenceslas Square. I believe that the planned modifications will be appreciated by all visitors and residents of this important place,” IPR Praha director Ondřej Boháč said.
Part of a tram track and other infrastructure was built next to the National Museum on Vinohradská Street during the renovations that ended in October 2018.