Vítězné náměstí to get giant obelisk

A radical new look for the underused square has been selected

A new look for Vítězné náměstí in Prague 6 will feature a tall obelisk in the center, and tram traffic will be moved from the center to the edge. The square, which is actually a large circular space, will be covered with trees and have drinking and decorative fountains, market stalls and benches to make it more usable for pedestrians.

The plan includes unrealized elements of the original design from 1920 by Antonín Engel, who also wanted an obelisk in the center.

The proposal was one of the last projects approved by the outgoing City Council, and the new administration has been seeking public reaction over social media.

The proposal is now being finalized and could be implemented in five years. The authors of the design are Pavel Hnilička, Eva Macáková and Josef Filip.

The outdoing administration said the square has the chance to become one of the most prestigious places in Prague.

In the new design, the tram tracks will run along the west side at Evropská Street. The proposed plan will accommodate more cars than the current design. There will also be a bike lane.

Parking should be partly eased by the construction of a new underground garage at Technická Street.

Trees will separate the roadway from the center of the square and create a pedestrian space.

The most striking element of the design is also the central obelisk. The jury that selected this design recommends holding a competition to design this monument.

The existing monument to foreign soldiers of World War II, a small wavy green metal column, will be moved to the northeast part of the square by Technická Street.

“The thinking of Antonín Engel greatly influenced Prague. Although his original plan was never finished, today’s generation of urban designers carry his legacy. The winning design is a good example of this,” says Ondřej Boháč, director of the Prague Institute of Planning and Development (IPR).

The competition was announced in April. Over 40 proposals were submitted, five of which were selected by the jury for the second round. One winner was selected and two other designs received awards. Second place went to Mandaworks from Sweden and third to a group led by Jakub Cigler Architekti. The Mandaworks design opened up the space to the public but kept the tram tracks in the center. The Jakub Cigler design moved the tracks but created a large central green space with no obelisk.

Reaction from the public has been mixed since the winning design was announced. Some of those who travel through the area don’t like the diversion for the tram line, though it does not significantly increase the travel time. Others said the losing proposals were better. The obelisk alone was a cause of some discussion, with many people not seeing the purpose behind it.

Vítězné náměstí, which means Victory Square, was named in 1925 and it refers to the victory of the Czech people in 1918 in acquiring independent statehood. The name was changed during World War II to náměstí Branné moci. It was changed again to presidenta Edvarda Beneše from 1946 to 1952. For the rest of the communist era it was náměstí Velké říjnové socialistické revoluce, or náměstí Říjnové revoluce (October Revolution Square) for short. In 1990 it returned to its original name.

Popularly the square is called Kulaťák.

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