Public unhappy with Malostranské náměstí plans

The city says that public input has been taken into account in the design

The future shape of Malostranské náměstí will have yellow granite stones, a fountain, but only five trees. The construction work currently underway at the square is giving the first look of the design. The same paving stones being put around the tram tracks will be used all around the square. But the plan being shown now has only minor modifications from the original, and it has not gained favor with the public.

People, in particular, have been critical of the lack of trees. This same criticism was voiced when the plans were first shown to the public in August 2016. The small number of benches was also criticized, as was the fact that parking, while reduced, was not eliminated.

These shortcomings were pointed out in 2016. A new wave of criticism came to the city’s social media pages when the construction on the tram tracks started.

The plan by Ateliér Hájek was the winner of an architectural contest. The lower part of the square has one plane tree that has long been on the square and the upper part of the square has four trees.

People pointed out that more trees would provide shade and a natural cooling effect. The small number of benches was also criticized again, as there is no way for people to sit and relax in the square.

There plan calls for a new fountain and the restoration of a hand pump that historically was on the square. Gas lamps will be put along the part of the square that is on the Royal Route.

The look of the fountain in the new sketches is a bit different and makes it easier for people to sit next to it and to touch the water. While some parking spots still exist on the square, the area has been reduced.

Deputy Mayor Petra Kolínská (Greens) said that public input has been taken into account. “The proposal went through a large number of comments not only from conservationists but also from transport experts, the police and Prague 1. The search for consensus was not easy, but we are close to the moment when we will submit the documentation to the building office,” Kolínská said recently on the city website.

The city put emphasis on the paving stones, quarried from Dolní Březinka, as a unifying theme. “The square will in the future be dominated by yellow granite from Dolní Březinka, which will correspond to the decorative facades and illustrate the Baroque background. It was also chosen for its connection to valuable quartz pavement, which will be preserved in the square,” Kolínská said.

Adam Zábranský of the Pirates party also pushed back against the criticism. “We are especially glad that the parking lot will disappear from the square,” he said, despite several parking spots remaining on the lower part of the square and significant parking on the upper part.

The first phase of renovations to the square includes an archaeological survey. This makes it hard to predict when the work will finish but the target date is in 2019.

After the renovations are finished, the square should host events for the public. Cultural events began to take place in the square in the latter part of 2016, and in the summer of 2017, a temporary cafe built inside a year-old 300- trunk of a tree was there. The cafe called Rugged Stand was by artist František Skála. Pop-up markets have also taken place in the former parking lot.

Malostranské náměstí has a long history going back to the 13th century. The name of the square has changed over the years. The square has long been divided into two parts, and was called Horní rynk and Dolní rynk (Upper and Lower Marketplace), and Malostranský rynek. The upper part was also called Vlašský plac, as many Italian merchants were there.

In the first half of the 19th century it became Štepanské námestí (Stephan Square), and after 1869 it was officially Malostranské náměstí, but people called it náměstí Maršála Radeckého, or Radecký Square, after a large statue located there at that time. The statue still exists and in the collection of the National Museum.

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