City responds to petition over Metro D

Some cosmetic changes will be made to most of the planned stations

Prague City Hall approved a call for art and architectural competitions for some stations on the proposed Metro D line. More than 2,700 people had called for the changes in a petition, claiming the planned stations were already old-fashioned before construction even starts. The petition was presented to City Hall at the start of September.

The changes will be much more limited than the petitioners wanted, however. Instead of an international competition for a complete redesign of the stations, the new competition will only be for cosmetic changes.

The petition maintains that the metro stations do not reflect current trends in urban design, but instead are based on postmodern architectural ideas from the 1990s. The stations were designed in 2009 by eight architects working for the construction firm Metroprojekt.

The problem with making changes to the existing designs is that for most of the Metro D line, zoning permission has been granted and any extensive architectural alterations would cause problems and delays, as the alterations would not be part of the already approved plan.

The competition for cosmetic changes will affect the eight stations between Pankrác, near the city center, and Písnice at the southern edge.

A separate architectural competition will be called for the two stations at Náměstí Míru and Náměstí Bratří Synků, which do not have zoning approval yet and can still be redesigned. The city announced in July that this architecture competition would take place.

The competition rules will be prepared by the Prague Public Transport Company (DPP) and the Institute of Planning and Development (IPR). The competition could take place next year. The IPR is examining what can be changed at the already planned stations without interfering with the zoning permission. Lighting and the materials used for the station's surfaces are among the cosmetic elements that can be changed.

The IPR previously stated that the stations should be uncluttered, have easy maintenance, uniform markings and standard furnishings.

Prague Deputy Mayor Petr Dolínek (ČSSD) said that ideally there would be one winner for all of the stations so that there can be unifying design elements throughout the metro line.

Poor planning of metro stations has been an issue before. Nádraží Veleslavín, one of the new stations on the Metro A line that opened in April 2015, connects with a bus that goes to the airport. The station, however, lacks an escalator going from the street to the vestibule so people have to carry their luggage up the steps. The city has had to employ porters to carry suitcases for free to help people. The oversight made international headlines and is mentioned on travel websites.

In September the supervisory board of DPP announced that the missing escalators would finally be installed, but the exact date has not been specified. The city spent Kč 15 million on porters to carry luggage in 2015.

Metro D is a planned subway line that will connect the city center to neighborhoods in the southern part of the city that now has poor public transportation options. When construction will begin is still unclear. The announced finish date is 2022, but that has been moved several times. The city so far has invested Kč 500 million on the project. Construction originally was set to begin in 2010, and that was moved to 2012. The city has not acquired all of the land it needs to build the metro line, and until it does, a building permit cannot be issued.

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