Prague's inner courtyards being developed

The city has grant programs to support renovating the center of city blocks

Many blocks in Prague have inner courtyards that are underused. The adjoining apartment buildings along the rectangle created by four streets often hide a large open space in the center called a vnitroblok in Czech. Many are filled with plants and trees.

Prague has a population of some 1.4 million people. Approximately one-third of Prague's inhabitants live in places with inner courtyards. According to a survey, 81 percent of Prague's inner courtyards are neglected and in need of renovation.

A conference called Vnitrobloky 2017, held by the group Bieno, earlier this week presented ways to revitalize the city's inner courtyards. The conference asked questions such who do not want to live in the middle of the city and have their own garden or park under the windows. The conference presented ways to rebuild the courtyards and make them accessible to people.

Turning them into gardens growing edible plants was one topic that was discussed.

“The inner courtyard is the second green lung of the city,” Prague Deputy Mayor Petr Kolínská (Greens) said, according to news server Ekolist.cz.

“Functioning courtyards have many forms of use. They strengthen community ties, create a sense of security, are important for children and seniors' leisure, and they contribute to the quality of the urban environment,” she added.

She favors programs that would support the development of these courtyards. “An important criterion for grant programs would be a long-term vision to keep the revitalized courtyard alive and maintained for five years,” she said.

The revitalization also extends to high-rise developments of paneláks. Kolínská said this was important because the panelák neighborhoods can be an anonymous and forbidding environment. The conference looked at a project in Černý Most as a case study.

Kolínská said the city and city districts can contribute to the development of the courtyards. Prague 6, for example, allocated Kč 4 million from its 2015 budget for subsidies for courtyard development. Some 29 projects out of a total of 44 applicants received subsidies.

Prague City Councilor Jana Plamínková (STAN) also said inner courtyards were extremely important. “That is why we have now approved a grant program to support the urban environment. This is also intended for regenerating and greening the courtyards. The program is designed for clubs, housing cooperatives, and civic initiatives, and complements subsidy programs designed for urban areas,” she said. A total of Kč 50 million will be distributed, and applicants may apply from Dec. 4 to 14.

Information on environmental grant programs, including the renovation of courtyards, is available on the MHMP website at www.praha.eu.

The group Bieno was founded in 2015. Its founders have been engaged in creating a sustainable development of cities with public participation. They created the non-profit organization to revitalize courtyards and urban public spaces.

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