Demolition begins on Wenceslas Square 47

The building has been at the center of a controversy for over six years

The long battle over the building on the corner of Wenceslas Square and Opletalova Street is over. Demolition began Saturday, April 15, with a scaffolding and tarps being erected, ending a six-year saga. The remaining tenants had been given notice to vacate the premises. The fight over whether or not the building would be declared a landmark or otherwise be protected when back and forth since 2010.

A new glass building at Václavské náměstí 47 called Flower House (Květinový dům) will be erected on the site by developer Flow East. Preservationists opposed the demolition, and had several protests as well as petitions. They also used social media to raise awareness.

The demolition will take place slowly for safety reasons, as Wenceslas Square is a busy pedestrian area. The roof and top floors will come off first. The duration of the demolition has not been disclosed but more information is supposed to come out soon.

The new building will also take up the adjacent vacant lot on Opletalova Street, which had been occupied by a printing plant. That building was torn down several years ago as it was declared to be in bad repair, but the facade had been left. That too eventually was torn down after it was declared to be not significant enough to preserve.

The Flower House will also extend into the central courtyard of the block behind Hotel Jalta. Three levels of the new building will be below ground and nine above.

Flow East has owned Václavské náměstí 47 since 1994. The firm claims that the existing building has structural problems that make renovating it an unviable option. They also claim it is not architecturally significant. The original building was built in 1880 in a style meant to echo the nearby National Musuem, since then the building has been restyled and expanded, losing all of it original details such as it corner cupola.

Flow East announced in 2011 that it wanted to revitalize the area with a new and modern building. In other cases Flow East has restored landmark buildings including the renovation of the façade of the Jalta hotel; a complete renovation of The Forum at Wenceslas Square 19, as well as the Ericsson Palace, Richtrův dům and U Kapra in Malé náměstí. The firm prides itself on its renovations, but found that a new building at this particular site made more sense.

James Woolf, founder and chairman of Flow East, said in 2011 that the Dancing House on the Vltava waterfront was originally unpopular but now is seen as a symbol of the city. He claims the same will be true of the Flower House. “This building will be judged in 50 or 100 years time when people will appreciate that Prague has history from its foundations in the 10th century right up to the 21st century, and that it didn’t stop in the middle of the 20th century,” Woolf said when plans were announced.

The new design comes British architectural firm Chapman Taylor, with inspiration from the lines of St. Vitus' Cathedral and images of burning candles and flowering plants.

Visualizations of the Flower House can be seen here www.vn47.cz/en

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