Mariánské náměstí, the square in front of Prague City Hall, will start to be transformed as of the second half of September.
The Prague Institute of Planning and Development (IPR) has selected studio Xtopix to make a study proposing a new design for the square. As part of the European Mobility Week, held September 15–22, a temporary transformation of the square will begin.
The provisional proposal envisages a pedestrian zone and changes in the traffic regime. Mariánské náměstí will continue to operate in this manner until the study is finished at the beginning of next year.
“Mariánské náměstí is a place where, besides the City Hall, there are other major Prague institutions such as the Municipal Library and National Library, but currently it is rather confusing and functions more like a parking lot than a square. I am pleased that a multi-disciplinary team of architects, transport engineers, water managers and landscape architects will be working on the transformation,” Prague Deputy Mayor Petr Hlaváček (United Force for Prague) said in a press release.
Xtopix studio, which is dedicated to architecture, urban design and graphic design, will create a design of Mariánské náměstí by the beginning of next year. Until the actual reconstruction, the square will operate in a temporary regime, which will turn it into a pedestrian zone with public chairs, trees, art installations and other elements. In addition to this visual change, there will occasionally be a program that will be co-ordinated by IPR, the Municipal Library, Prague City Hall, Prague City Gallery, and other institutions.
The studio will incorporate public opinion into a new shape of the square. From September 21 to October 1, the IPR will have an information container on site to get people’s ideas or comments on how the square should change in the future.
“We will be glad if the Praguers give us their opinion on what the square should look like, what should not be missing, or what its content should be. We are trying to create a space in the center of Prague that will not only be a stopover for tourists, but a place of rest for local people,” IPR director Ondřej Boháč said.
Mariánské náměstí was originally a settlement called Na Louži with the Church of the Virgin Mary and a courtyard already around the middle of the 12th century. The square was named after the church, but went through several variations such as Ryneček u Matky Boží na Louži, Plac Matky Boží and Mariánský plácek. From 1952 to 1990 is was called náměstí Primátora dr. V. Vacka, after a former mayor.
The New City Hall (Nová radnice) was built in 1908–11, after a design by architect Osvald Polívka. It has a facade in the Art Nouveau style with sculptures by noted artists Stanislav Sucharda, Josef Mařatka and Ladislav Šaloun,
Several other Prague’s squares including Wenceslas Square, Karlovo náměstí, náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad, and Malostranské náměstí are in various stages of renovation.