Černý Most to get new lookout tower

The project is meant to revitalize a park at the edge of Prague

Prague will have a new lookout tower near Černý Most. Construction will begin in a few days and the 98-step structure should open the public in September. The tower's architect is Martin Rajniš, who has pioneered the concept of natural architecture, and who has made similar towers and structures around the world.

It will be the first tower built in Prague since the Žižkov Television Tower in 1992, but is is on a much smaller scale. The new tower, called Doubravka, will be around 20 meters tall, compared to 216 meters for the TV tower. Doubravka resembles three upside down water drops joined at the top, and is made of natural materials such as wooden rods woven together in an open framework. Critics, though, say it resembles a giant elephant's backside. Rajniš previously dismissed the criticism as being typical Czech negativity on any new ideas.

Doubravka will be in Na Čihadlech park and will be visible from a distance. Hopefully it will become a symbol of the Prague 14 neighborhood. The park joins together several neighborhoods — Hloubětín, Jahodnice, Kyje and the Černý Most housing project. About 33,000 people live in the two square kilometers around the area.

Prague 14 Mayor Radek Vondra (TOP 09) says that the tower will help to revitalize the overgrown park, and make into a place where people can relax and unwind. The tower will create a visible contrast to the prefabricated panel buildings of Černý Most.

The project will be built by a combination of public and private financing. Most of the estimated Kč 3.5 million will come from developer Landia Management, which is active in building flats in the area. The rest will come from people who can sponsor a message on one of the steps for a minimum contribution of Kč 5,000 per step. Architect Rajniš said a similar funding plan was used for a tower in Krušné hory. He added that he is not taking a fee for designing the tower. If all 98 steps are sold it will raise at least Kč 490,000.

The Prague 14 district is not contributing to the cost of the tower, but it will be paying to develop the park with new greenery, picnic areas, playgrounds and places to do sports. Walking and biking paths will be changed and upgraded. The cost of renovating the park is estimated at Kč 7 million. The result should be an attraction that draws people to the area from across the city.

This viewing tower may be part of a new trend as another one is planned for Letňany next year. The great era of building such towers was in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when structures like the Petřín Lookout Tower were built. That tower celebrated 125 years of operation in 2016. Many towers from this era still survive across the country and are popular hiking or biking destinations, while others have been converted to holding mobile phone relays and other infrastructure.

People are probably familiar with the work of Martin Rajniš without knowing it. He was one of the architects for the building that is now Tesco on Národní třída, before he changed his style to natural architecture. He also designed the new wooden airship called Gulliver that is permanently grounded on top of DOX Centre for Contemporary Art. There was a retrospective of his work in 2014 at DOX as well.

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