Deliberations about building a new, large concert hall in Prague have been underway for decades. Twice, the city came close to realizing such a plan: In the 90s, a concert hall was almost built on Letná – the same area where Jan Kaplický’s controversial plan for the National Library was to be realized, only to be subsequently blocked. Then, Japanese investors wanted to dedicate a new concert hall to the Czech Philharmonic for its 100th anniversary, which took place in 2018, but the former Minister of Culture, Milan Uhde, and former Mayor of Prague, Milan Kondr, rejected their offer. On August 19th, 2020, Prague’s magistrate announced it has launches an in-depth analyses of a potential location for a new concert hall in Prague. Will the plan go through, this time?
The biggest question surrounding the building of a new concert hall in Prague has always been an appropriate location. This time, the magistrate and the Prague Institute of Planning and Development have their sights set on an area near the Vltavská metro stop on the left bank of the Vltava (Maldau) river. They have employed a consort of companies, selected through an international competition, to conduct an in-depth analysis of the area. The analysis will serve as a source of further information before the city decides if it will continue with the project. The analyses should be ready by the end of the year and, should the building by approved and should the city decide to continue with the project, the concert hall could be standing as early as 2032.
A Copenhagen-based company, Hennig Larsen Architects, will supervise the international companies Buro Happold and AEA Consulting in completing the assessment. The assessment is to include a proposal for the basic paramaters of the concert hall, its exact placement, suggestions for various ways to employ the building, as well as a more precise calculation of the expenses associated with building and maintaining the new concert hall. If the city were to give the project a green light, it will announce an international architectural competition and the building could go into construction as early as 2027.
“The prestige and experience of the consortium led by Henning Larsen, which has led similar projects all over the world, is a guarantee that we will have at our disposal a high-quality analysis that will aid us with our future decisions about the project,” said the vice-mayor for urban planning of the city of Prague, Petr Hlaváček.
According to earlier estimates, the new concert hall, which would contain a roughly 2000-seat auditorium, should cost close to 4 billion CZK (about 153,300,000 Euro), though a more precise estimate is to be determines by the aforementioned consortium. Another 1 billion CZK (over 38 million Euro) will have to be spent on the infrastructure of the Vltavská area, which encompasses several tram stops and a metro stop as well as a busy overpass.
The concert hall is supposed to become part of a new series of construction projects at the Bubny-Zátory area, which has thus far remained undeveloped. The Prague Institute of Planning and Development has undertaken an urban study of the entire area and proposes to fill it with residential and office buildings, a park, and several train stations, a plan which would eventually have 25.000 people move into the area. Currently, the area of 110 hectares is under a construction ban.