The Imperial Island Concept

Imperial Island (Císařský ostrov), Prague
Area characterisation: 

The Troja basin, which also contains Imperial island with area 29 ha , is one of the largest and most environmentally valuable areas of Prague. In the distant past it was the site of the Královská obora (Royal Game Park), which is now Stromovka park, while Troja Castle, Císařský mlýn (Imperial Mill) and other buildings were added at a later stage. However, subsequent industrial developments resulted in the floodplain taking on new functions. A railroad was built across the Troja basin, along with a navigable channel with a new weir, and a wastewater treatment plant was established, which would later be extended to occupy half of Imperial Island.

The original unnavigable Vltava river basin, the side branches, such as Malá říčka at the Imperial Mill, Strouha running in front of the zoo or fragments of floodplain forest and meadows. The former Royal Game Park and Troja Castle, later the ZOO and botanical gardens, have become important recreation destinations, attracting large numbers of visitors.

This interests prove the irreplaceable significance of the area, but has also raised new problems relating to transport access and parking and the lack of coordination among projects intervening in this area. The problematic relationship between the recreational and environmental characteristics of the district and major technical works is most clear in the case of The Central Wastewater Treatment Plant. The decision to upgrade it to bring it in line with new criteria for water purity will result in its expansion to cover a further third of Imperial Island.

It is important to realise that the number of activities that all intersect on the territory of Imperial Island – the transport and technical infrastructure, together with a variety of primarily recreational activities make enormous demands on the largest island in Prague. This diversity also means that many of bodies are involved, from government institutions, The City Council, district authorities, as well as private companies and the local population.

Slideshow:

Imperial Island, Vltava river CIOS Exhibition Imperial Island, 2015 CIOS Exhibition Imperial Island, 2015 First place, Competition Workshop 2015 CIOS Exhibition Imperial Island, 2015 CIOS Exhibition Imperial Island, 2015 Imperial Island, Vltava river Imperial Island, aerial photo, orientatio West Imperial Island, aerial photo, orientation East
Objective: 
  • Designation of public areas: To define stable frameworks within the landscape with public spaces within the urban structure and to distinguish these from non-public or semi-public areas (gardens, grounds, urban blocks, etc.).

  • Preserving the original level of the terrain

  • Promoting synergies between enclosed grounds and public space: Opening up banks that are inaccessible or with limited access to pedestrians, cyclists and horseback riders. Freeing Troja of part of the traffic burden.

  • Connection of the Troja Basin: By public transport from the metro stations at Dejvice and Holešovice, connecting the transportation hubs of Dejvice, Podbaba – Holešovice. Podbaba – Bohnice tram.

  • Layout of traffic access to the area: To define specific levels of permeability and accessibility for cyclists, in-line skaters, hikers and visitors to the ZOO. To designate no-go zones for nature, horses and quiet recreational spaces. To find the level of traffic congestion in the area, taking account of its recreational and landscape values on the one hand and on the other hand the inherent requirements of target premises (vehicular access to the zoo and sports facilities). New bridges and footbridges to increase the throughput of the area and connect up the city districts of Troja, Holešovice, Bubeneč.  

  • Planning the river basin – adapting to floods: A creative solution to two legal requirements – an area for the safe overflow and runoff of water during floods (restricting barriers in the core zone during floods) while maintaining and developing the natural and landscape qualities of the river and its floodplain (natural morphodynamics, natural habitats, the character of the river) in connection with the construction of new water line. Respecting the natural processes that shape the main channel of the Vltava and its distributaries. Expanding the main channel, creating islands that are very often flooded. Creation of a contour furrow with permanently flowing branching distributaries.

  • Reinterpreting significant landscape features: Restoral of important local landmarks that have been removed. Preserving the fundamental valuable trees on the island (black poplar, oak, linden) outside to be landscaped. Preserving and protecting the valuable relic of the former distributary and route. Landscaping, lowering banks, preserving rapids – establishing a mosaic of near-natural plant communities in the newly landscaped terrain.

  • Formulating proposals for suitable administration and management of the area
Actions: 

Year 2004 was the start of preparatory works. In connection with the Czech Republic’s accession to the EU and compliance with emissions limits laid down in CR PC 61/2003 Coll. as amended by PC 229/2007 Coll. and EU Council Directive 91/271/EEC for “sensitive areas”, the need arose for an extension to the existing Central wastewater treatment plant. The City of Prague has applied to the EU for a grant to cover this project.

Next year, in October 2005 Issue of the Environmental Impact Assessment was wrote and Land use planning documentation took to use decision Z1525/00 to enable construction works on Imperial Island. 

Four years later, in January 2009, Cooperation agreement was signed between the City of Prague and the Troja district Agreement. The purpose was to make sure the harmonious development of the Troja basin in connection with the construction of the new water line and the reconstruction of the Combine wastewater treatment plant.

In October 2011 was created Yellow FIDIC (International Federation of Consulting Engineers) agreement between the Department of Strategic Investments, Prague City Hall and the Combine Wastewater Treatment Plant Association as the main contractor for the New Water Line. Same year, the appointment with PVS a.s., as the investor’s technical supervisor was arranged.

In 2015 was arranged Verbal agreement between Troja district with Prague 7, Prague 6 and the City of Prague concerning common objectives – the harmonious development of the Troja basin. A Commission was later established. The Prague City Council established a Commission to discuss the overall concept for Imperial Island and its wider area under Resolution no.831 in April 22nd. Next month, in May competition workshop With the River Together hosted five teams. A winning team was selected from the proposals submitted, which subsequently completed its project.

Conception of the General landscape solution of Imperial island and its surroundings in 2016 was published.

In August 29th 2017 Prague City Council approved Imperial island action plan and The conception of landscape design of Imperial island and surroundings.

Potential impacts/benefits: 

Conception addresses the wider environment, defines a framework of public spaces and landscape, together with the accessibility and through flow of the area. The revitalisation of the area will include a shallow furrow across the island and an expansion of the northern distributary. This will give more space not only for high water flow, but also habitats at the transition between the river and its banks.

The Conception has returned to the character of the floodplain. The main channel is expanded and features modelled islands that the river will often flood. A shallow water furrow will lead across the island. Space of Imperial Island will support the diversity of plant and animal species, which will be allocated their own sites.

Plan to open now difficult-to-access banks for walking, cycling and horse riding extends the connection with the city and expands recreational areas for tourists a citizens.

NBS benefits 
  • Developing climate change adaptation; improving risk management and resilience
  • Flood peak reduction
  • Increase infiltration / Water storage
  • Increasing infiltration
  • Reduce drought risk
  • Reduce flood risk
  • Reduce load to sewer system
  • Reduce risk of damages from drought
  • Reduce run-off
  • Reducing temperature at meso or micro scale
  • Developing climate change mitigation
  • Carbon sequestration and storage
  • Reduction of energy in the production of new buildings and building materials
  • Restoring ecosystems and their functions
  • Greater ecological connectivity across urban regenerated sites
  • Improve connectivity and functionality of green and blue infrastructures
  • Increase achievements of biodiversity targets
  • Increase Biodiversity
  • Increase quality and quantity of green and blue infrastructures
  • Increased cultural richness and biodiversity
  • Enhancing sustainable urbanisation
  • Changing image of the urban environment
  • Creation of green jobs relating to construction & maintenance of NBS
  • Improve air quality
  • Improve water quality
  • Increase accessibility to green open spaces
  • Increase amount of green open spaces for residents
  • Increase awareness of NBS solution & their effectiveness and co benefits
  • Increase communities’ sense of ownership
  • Increase population & infrastructures protected by NBS
  • Increase social interaction
  • Increase stakeholder awareness & knowledge about NBS
  • Increase well-being
  • Increase willingness to invest in NBS
  • Provision of health benefits
  • Reduce costs for water treatments
  • Social inclusion
  • Social learning about location & importance of NBS
Transferability of the result: 

We are just as dependent on the river as we ever were, only this is easily forgotten today and so we make mistakes. We do not realise that even seemingly unrelated human activity can seriously disrupt our relationship with the river. The signs of our cohabitation are clearly written into the countryside.

Its exceptional place within the city and the number of functions it performs means that the island deserves to be developed by the principles governing periurban parks. These not only provide for effective protection of biodiversity, but most importantly, the full integration of the countryside into the urban area, resulting in an improved quality of life for residents of the metropolis.

As an immediate, living landscape it can then offer us its gifts. We believe that such care is possible and good examples already exist. With this exhibition we want to contribute to the mosaic of activities leading to changing our approach to the river and its needs.

Lessons learned: 
  • cooperation and collaboration between various actors and entities in a periurban landscape,
  • 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,
  • transparent and open approach to locals residents and stakeholders,
  • systematic identification of problems in the area of importance,
  • revitalization of brownfields for meaningful and public uses,
  • inclusion of valuable biotope areas into the landscape planning,
  • creative and simple ideas are easy and quick to implement and increase the acceptance of the project,
  • importance of finding harmony, interplay and balance natural solutions for the periurban landscape,
  • landscape planning according to its natural character, appearance and properties,
  • continuity of recreational zones and landscape with wildlife,
  • needs for recreational zones near towns,
  • changes in architectural design and building plans to reduce negative impact on natural landscape forms and wildlife.
  • Designation of public areas: To define stable frameworks within the landscape with public spaces within the urban structure and to distinguish these from non-public or semi-public areas (gardens, grounds, urban blocks, etc.).

  • Preserving the original level of the terrain

  • Promoting synergies between enclosed grounds and public space: Opening up banks that are inaccessible or with limited access to pedestrians, cyclists and horseback riders. Freeing Troja of part of the traffic burden.

  • Connection of the Troja Basin: By public transport from the metro stations at Dejvice and Holešovice, connecting the transportation hubs of Dejvice, Podbaba – Holešovice. Podbaba – Bohnice tram.

  • Layout of traffic access to the area: To define specific levels of permeability and accessibility for cyclists, in-line skaters, hikers and visitors to the ZOO. To designate no-go zones for nature, horses and quiet recreational spaces. To find the level of traffic congestion in the area, taking account of its recreational and landscape values on the one hand and on the other hand the inherent requirements of target premises (vehicular access to the zoo and sports facilities). New bridges and footbridges to increase the throughput of the area and connect up the city districts of Troja, Holešovice, Bubeneč.  

  • Planning the river basin – adapting to floods: A creative solution to two legal requirements – an area for the safe overflow and runoff of water during floods (restricting barriers in the core zone during floods) while maintaining and developing the natural and landscape qualities of the river and its floodplain (natural morphodynamics, natural habitats, the character of the river) in connection with the construction of new water line. Respecting the natural processes that shape the main channel of the Vltava and its distributaries. Expanding the main channel, creating islands that are very often flooded. Creation of a contour furrow with permanently flowing branching distributaries.

  • Reinterpreting significant landscape features: Restoral of important local landmarks that have been removed. Preserving the fundamental valuable trees on the island (black poplar, oak, linden) outside to be landscaped. Preserving and protecting the valuable relic of the former distributary and route. Landscaping, lowering banks, preserving rapids – establishing a mosaic of near-natural plant communities in the newly landscaped terrain.

  • Formulating proposals for suitable administration and management of the area
Contacts: 

Prague Institute of Planning and Development

Vyšehradská 57, 128 00 Praha 2

Project manager: Ing. arch. Pavla Melková, Ing. Štěpán Špoula

Project team: Ing. Štěpán Špoula, MgA. Marek Kundrata

Project web page: http://www.iprpraha.cz/cisarskyostrov