reSite Prague: The Story-teller River
The Storyteller River is a project proposal for the Skanska: Bridging Prague international competition organised by reSITE and ARCHIP in 2012. The scope of the competition was the section of Vltava that passes through the UNESCO-listed historic core of Prague but also through the post-industrial landscape to the North. The aim was to develop a Vision Plan that creates a unified experience linking cultural, recreational, ecological, historical and economic opportunities. Besides, competitors had to propose human-scaled site design/site intervention at a conceptual level within the frameworks of the Vision Plan. The project was selected among the 18 finalists out of 120 entries.
The history of Prague reveals the strong role of Vltava for the city development and specific bonds with its citizens. The historical processes have left their marks along the river forming various strips – public spaces with their own identity in terms of morphology, functions, tangible and intangible cultural traces. They reveal the development tendencies along the river: from the close everyday communication of people with its waters and banks as natural sources of food and living, through alienation caused by reinforcement, sanitation and industrialisation, towards gradual returning of people to the river banks in search of recreation and reconnection with the nature.
The Vision Plan follows these tendencies stimulating the communication of the people with the river and giving Vltava a floor to reveal its numerous faces and tell various stories. Thus the plan aims at restoring the broken connection between the urbanised areas and the river, between people and water. The plan is an open strategy for new functions and structures that not only reveal and interpret history but also add new significance of the public spaces along Vltava for the people of today. In the basis of the plan stand three key urbanistic aspects – culture, recreation, and transport, which interweave and interact in an unusual, unexpected and even provocative way. The approach towards the river context combines three key principles: respect to the specific place with its identity; restoration of the ecological balance and reuse of industrial sites and structures; design and materials resistant to flooding.
Two intervention sites were chosen to cover two types of territories. Podskalí/Podzdí is part of the historic core and an element of the proposed system of public spaces with cultural and educational functions based on the historical importance of the river. The intervention proposes development of recreational structures. The design interprets the past function of the area as a storage space for logs rafted down the river from the forests to the South.
Floodplain Industrial Park is part of the post-industrial landscape to the North. Here are proposed restoration of the lost river beds to maintain and control flooding, and reuse of the abandoned industrial structures as entertainment and sport facilities. The aim is to keep the memory of and reveal the major changes that this site was subject to through the years: from riverbed with islands, through reclaimed land with industrial sites, to the oblivion and disuse now.