A winning design has been chosen for the site of the outdated telecommunication buildings in Prague 3–Žižkov at Olšanská and Jana Želivského streets.
The 40,000-square-meter lot, now owned by domestic residential builder Central Group, will be the location of a project called Centrum Nového Žižkova.
Some 98 architectural studios from 30 countries participated in the competition for developing the space, and a jury narrowed that down to 12 finalists.
Czech-British architect Eva Jiřičná of AI Design won with a complex highlighted by three wavy, cylindrical towers reminiscent of a stack of pancakes, plus public green spaces between the buildings and use of state-of-the-art environmental technology.
Jiřičná worked on design preparations with London-based architectural company ARUP. That firm participated in the engineering of the Sydney Opera House, the Millennium Bridge in London, the Barbican Centre in London, and the Pompidou Center in Paris, among many other projects.
Famous architectural names that also submitted plans included Sou Fujimoto of Japan, Ian Ritchie of the UK and Radek Kolařík of the Czech Republic, who came in second and third respectively, and Sou Fujimoto of Japan, who got a special mention for originality.
Jiřičná proposal has above-standard apartments in three high-rise cylindrical towers, which won’t exceed 100 meters. This height will require a change in the current zoning plan. More affordable apartments will be in an adjacent building with a more standard design.
The project also includes a kindergarten with a large garden and a playground. The lower floors of the apartment buildings include commercial premises for services, shops, restaurants and cafes.
The design places emphasis on a large public space with greenery, fountain and works of art. In total, almost 70 percent of the total size of the land, some 27,000 square meters, will be open to the public.
The design will now be presented to the public, politicians and authorities by the authors and investors. Then it will only depend on politicians and authorities whether this complex will be realized, or whether it will be buried like Jan Kaplický’s so-called Octopus, Central Group said in a press release, referring to the proposed modern library that was never built.
There has not been an outcry to preserve the existing technical buildings in Žižkov. The high-rise Central Telecommunications Building (UTB) was built between 1972 and ’79. The architects were Frantisek Cubr, Josef Hruby, Zdenek Pokorny, Frantisek Strachal and Vladimir Oulik.
At 96 meters, it was the tallest building at that time in Czechoslovakia, and tallest telecom building in Europe. Currently, the tallest building in the Czech Republic is the AZ Tower in Brno, South Moravia, at 111 meters.
The UTB building was nicknamed Mordor, after the evil tower in The Lord of the Rings, as well as Strougal’s Tower, after 1970s Czechoslovak prime minister Lubomír Štrougal.
Telecom group CETIN plans to use the building until 2022, after which it will be torn down to make room for the new project. The UTB building is technologically outdated and cannot easily be adapted for other purposes. It also has a high amount of asbestos, which will complicate its demolition.