Prague Riverfront Concept

Prague Riverfront Concept
Area characterisation: 

The primary significance of the flood-plain areas for the city is that offers green open spaces, recreation, real nature, quality soil for agriculture, flood protection and other functions near the city centre or even in the very centre.

Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic with approx. 1.3 million residents. The city has a quite broad range of green and blue infrastructure types and large areas of forests, agricultural and other open spaces. The Vltava and Berounka rivers represent the major water corridors characterised by Vltava steep canyons and terraces and flat Berounka floodplains. Vltava river is the primary axis of the urban and landscape structure of Prague. The immediate areas such as river banks, floodplains, terraces and cliffs around the rivers are closely connected to the entire city, and the urban planning needs to work intensively with these spaces. The river spaces are the ones of the most important public spaces in Prague.

River space does include not only the water and the banks but also the natural landscape and buildings connected to the river. By its nature, a river brings movement to the static mass of a city. These areas can play a crucial role in the city´s adaptation to climate changes mostly by providing valuable natural spaces within the urban core, where ecosystem processes can be highly functional.

Area divisions:

North (24 partial projects): North Vltava Canyon

Centrum (45 partial projects): Troja Basin, Holešovice Meander, Prague Meander

South (11 partial projects): South Prague Portal, Berounka Valley, South Vltava Canyon

Slideshow:

Prague riverside Charles bridge, Vltava river City center, Prague, Vltava river Prague, Vltava river Artist concept: floating sauna Green areas for relaxation, Vltava river Imperial Island (Císařský ostrov), Vltava river Berounka river, part of Periurban Park Soutok
Objective: 

„The river is a citywide public space.“

„Riverfront throughout the city are a coherent space, and their development, even in sub-sections, must always be addressed in a citywide context.“

The river and its banks are an essential city-forming element, and this is how the city should approach them. Until now, Prague lacked a concept for developing the vast potential of the river and its environments. The Prague Riverfront Concept, approved in 2014, rectifies this situation. Many of the most attractive riverside localities have been neglected, poorly managed and inappropriately privatised. The new concept should coordinate the plans and investments made by public administration, the City of Prague and even private investors so that the area around the river becomes a much sought-after public space. Both banks of the Vltava should be freely accessible along their entire length within Prague city limits. The newly appointed City Waterfront Manager is actively pursuing implementation of the concept, especially on Prague’s riverfront.

Actions: 

In 2013 the City of Prague lacked a conceptual document that would allow planning and coordinate development of riverbanks. Resolution of the Prague City Council in 2013 Prague conducted Public Space Office IPR Praha to draw up the Prague riverfront concept.

In January 2014, the document was published with detailed information about the problematic areas, containing spatial data and 80 existing projects.

In 2014 press conference with the name Prague riverfront concept presented the idea for the broad public.

In the case of the Berounka floodplain area, the local municipalities signed the Memorandum of Joint Collaboration for Development and Future Use of the Confluence Area in 2015. The platform SPOLEČNE NA SOUTOKU (Together at Confluence) was created based on the Prague riverfront concept, and today the Confluence Project is implementing the main ideas (such as periurban park concept, revision of the existing projects, and naturalisation of the riverbanks) of the document on the local level.

Potential impacts/benefits: 

Prague riverfronts concept is a vision of the City Prague about quality development of space like rivers, especially as a citywide public space. This conception helps create organized, controlled, development and management of the project area, urban and architectural planning, investment, administration, maintenance, rent and land use in the river. The use and partial refurbishment of the individual riverbanks should always take place in keeping with their character.

The proposed principles aim is to create the river as the necessary element in urbanism, landscape and high quality public space in the city.

The concept creates the basis for cooperation in Prague city districts, organizations, citizens, professionals and the business with other actors in the area.

Transferability of the result: 

The absence of such document in Prague has been responsible for a number of negative impacts such as instability of activities and entrepreneurship in the territory, insufficient investment in river space, the importance of which is not declared for the city, the weak efficiency of fragmentary investments without prioritization of the quality of the whole, the loss to the city of strategic territories of their unbalanced privatization, revaluation and insufficient use of the potential of the river area for the inhabitants of Prague, etc. All these problems have been attempted by the city to open up the concept of the Prague banks with the help of The Metropolitan Sound Board, an expert advisory body of the Council of the City of Prague. Prague City Development Issues. The primary task is to provide feedback to the City Council of Prague and to recommend the solution of concrete questions related to the development of the city.

The existence of a comprehensive concept of development of the territory is a prerequisite for the quality development, the stability of the business in the area, the expedient spending of the means of investment, the possibility of obtaining subsidies successfully - especially from the European funds.

Lessons learned: 
  • cooperation and collaboration between various actors and entities alongside the river,
  • importance of frequent periodic discussions, open talks and presentations to the stakeholders in the area of interest,
  • importance of connection with residents and public relations,
  • a transparent and open approach to locals residents and stakeholders,
  • systematic identification of problems in the area of importance,
  • a revitalisation of brownfields for meaningful and public uses,
  • the inclusion of valuable biotopes areas into the landscape planning,
  • creative and simple ideas are easy and quick to implement and increase the acceptance of the project,
  • the river is the primary axis of the urban and landscape structure of the city,
  • around rivers is also possible to work with floodplain vegetation — meadows, willows (whose branches can be used for weaving),
  • the river is a public realm of citywide importance.
Contacts: 

Public Space Office, Prague Institute of Planning and Development

Kristína Ullmannová,

Email:  ullmannova@ipr.eu

Project website:  http://www.iprpraha.cz/clanek/195/koncepce-prazskych-brehu