Brno’s city architect has launched an international contest to remasterplan the Špitálka district of the Czech Republic’s second largest city (Deadline: 21 January)
The single-stage competition invites participants to draw up a 24.5ha ‘smart city’ masterplan for the residential and industrial zone bordering the historic centre, which has been earmarked for massive regeneration.
The call for concepts is part of the European Union-backed Ruggedised project which aims to create exemplar urban spaces powered by secure, affordable and clean energy, and harnessing smart electro-mobility, smart tools and services.
In its brief, the city architect says the competition’s aim ‘is to get a quality urban design and to find a solution that will be used for the next steps leading to a change of the Brno City Master Plan and regulatory plan of the area.
‘The solution should have a unifying concept and long-term sustainability that naturally and functionally integrate the whole area into the city’s structure. It should find new functions for parts of the city for revitalisation, improve citizens’ lives and reduce environmental impact.’
Špitálka is a historic central district of Brno, featuring 19th-century housing, large industrial areas and pockets of deprivation.
Brno contest site
The competition is part of the EU’s Ruggedised initiative, which is also promoting flagship smart city zones in Rotterdam, Glasgow, Umeå, Gdaňsk and Parma.
Proposals will be expected to regenerate the area as a new ‘smart district’ with improved connections to the surrounding city. Concepts will also be required to focus on ‘energy efficiency and self-sufficiency, adaptability to climate changes and social resilience’.
Judges include Barbara van den Broek, urban planner at the City of Rotterdam; Pavel Hnilička of local practice Pavel Hnilička Architekti; Petr Vokřál, lord mayor of the City of Brno; and the city’s deputy mayor for smart cities, Jaroslav Kacer.
The overall winner will receive CZK 500,000 (£17,000), while there will also be a second prize of CZK 400,000 (£13,000) and third prize of CZK 300,000 (£10,000).
How to apply
The deadline for applications is 21 January
City Chief Architect‘s Office
Zelný trh 331/13
602 00 Brno
Tel: +420 770 176 561
Visit the competition website for more information
Q&A with Jaroslav Kacer
The jury vice-chair and the city’s deputy mayor for smart cities discusses his ambitions for the contest
Why are your holding a competition to re-masterplan the Špitálka area of Brno?
We are part of the RUGGEDISED project as a fellow city of European program Horizon 2020, Smart Cities and Communities call, and we were looking for a suitable locality, for which we could develop our replication and investment plan for the future smart city district in Brno. When we heard about our city company’s plan to move its operations we decided to choose this newly vacant location to become a future pilot smart district. Before we start planning development of this specific part, we feel the need to deal with the locality as a whole and to test new tools such as locality manager and temporary use of the site. Design its future development, take urban ties into account, involve owners of surrounding lands in planning. To do that, we would like to get the widest possible portfolio of quality ideas for potential urban development, therefore open urban idea competition. Our effort is to leave the local pond and get also high-quality designs from abroad in pursuit of having interesting proposals of world-known urban planners and architects here in the future. We also tried to involve our partners in the project for the purpose of both promotion and acting as members of the jury.
What is your vision for the future of Špitálka?
We are talking about a post-industrial zone. Špitálka is directly connected to the historic city centre. It is an impervious area with a high density of building and a closed block structure. There are former production sites, formerly the industrial centre of the city. Today, these decaying buildings form a large part of local brownfields. Taking into consideration the attractive location near the city centre, we want to change this unsatisfactory condition. Contest proposals should respect the city’s intention to gradually rebuild the site to a so-called smart district. There should emerge a construction that will accept modern trends and that will combine functions of housing, services and employment to reduce unnecessary mobility and of course, there will be public space with greenery where modern technologies and approaches will serve to simplify residence of inhabitants and visitors and make it more pleasant. The aim is to create a place where environment-friendly management of natural resources is realised, renewable energy is used as much as possible and community life and inclusion is developed. This locality should become a symbol of progress and modern technology in the city. It is important for the designs to respect the long-term sustainability of the place and to preserve its genius loci. It is not necessary to destroy all the original elements; contrariwise it is crucial to preserve features of industrial architecture.
Špitálka, Brno in 1848
What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?
It doesn’t matter to us whether they will be renowned architectural studies or teams of beginning enthusiastic architects and urban planners. Our main goal is to get quality proposals and ideas on how to develop this place in the future. We don’t oppose innovations, but at the same time, we want to preserve the nature and character of this site. It is not a prerequisite for teams to cooperate with local companies.
Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?
The recently announced internationally urban design competition is just the first step. It will be followed by the development of this study to change the urban master plan. As I have already mentioned, part of the site belongs to the city company, and this is where the first pilot construction of the future smart district will focus. We would like to create an international architectural competition for each defined object in the location. The goal is that each object has another architect and fulfils the required functions.
Are there any other city centre urban regeneration master plans you have been impressed by?
We chose some European cities for inspiration, which we visited and discussed with their city authorities how they did it. I will give you three examples. The first one is the Bordeaux Euratlanique project, where it was interesting how the individual areas are going to change as required. Bordeaux has temporarily used the former barracks and created the Darwin project, which unites a start-up incubator, non-profit organizations to organize various events, or an indoor skate park, etc. The second example is Graz with their revitalization of the former Reininghaus brewery including the use of temporary use tools or creating the new position of manager of the location. The third example is Leipzig and their new construction and revitalization of the Plagwitz area, where I would love to immediately move in. Among other things, the Leipzig reuses former cotton spinning plant as the creative centre or re-opened the concreted rivers.