The Prague Congress Centre has announced an open international contest for an extension to its landmark venue in the centre of the Czech Republic capital (Deadline: 17 March)
The two-stage competition seeks proposals for a new conference and exhibition wing alongside plans to revitalise the ageing 9,300-capacity building and its surrounding area.
The project’s £9.3 million first phase will deliver a new conference hall, upgraded street layouts on Prague Magistrála road, improved integration with city infrastructure, and an overhaul of landscaping in the surrounding Nusle Valley area. Phase two is expected to feature further development opportunities in line with an emerging masterplan for the district.
Source: Image by Che
According to the brief: ‘The competition proposals should come up with the best solution for the future exhibition halls and their implementation into the surrounding area, to lay a basis for a future urban structure and a good quality public space in the next years.
‘In the long term, the proposal should come up with a built environment for the Pankrác Square and its surrounding areas so it can become a fully-fledged part of the city. The final proposition should include the transformation of the Prague Magistrála road into a 21st-century city boulevard.’
The congress centre was designed by local architect Mayer, Vaněk and Karlík, starting on site in 1975 and opening in 1981. Originally known as the ‘culture palace’, the sprawling hilltop complex, surrounded by ramps and access roads, was the main venue for the city’s annual Communist Party meetings.
Source: Image by Sju
The seven sided structure was inspired by the Congress Centre in Hamburg and remains one of Europe’s largest single-purpose public facilities. A full restoration of the building was completed at the turn of the millennium, and today the venue hosts acts ranging from the Chinese National Circus to the Beach Boys.
Located on the Vltava River, the Prague metropolitan area is home to around two million people and was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites 24 years ago. The Czech Republic capital is thought to be the fifth most visited city in Europe, and features more than 10 major museums and many historical landmarks.
In May, Zaha Hadid Architects revealed plans for a new central business district on a 22,000m² brownfield site next to the Masaryk Railway Station. The practice, whose figurehead Zaha Hadid died in March aged 65, won the competition to redevelop the long-abandoned site in 2014.
The Prague Congress Centre competition is organised by Moba Studio, which founded the theoretical research platform Centre for Central European Architecture (CCEA) in 2001. Interested parties may attend a tour of the site and the buildings led by the competition organisers on 20 January.
The overall stage-one winner will receive £31,000, and there will also be a second prize of £22,000 and a third prize of £15,500, with a further £25,000 shared between teams participating in the second, detailed design stage. Finalists will also bid for the contract to design the £9.3 million construction project.
How to apply
The deadline for Stage 1 submissions is at 2.30 pm CET on 17 March
The deadline for Stage 2 submissions is at 2.30 pm CET on 30 June
Ing. arch. Igor Kovačević, Ph.D.
U Půjčovny 4
110 00 Prague 1
Vancouver Convention Centre West case study: Q&A with LMN Architects
The Seattle-based practice discusses lessons learned designing an extension to the Vancouver Convention Centre in Canada
How did your Vancouver Convention Centre West project expand an existing events facility and improve its connections to the city?
The Vancouver Convention Centre West expansion triples the city’s convention capacity, allowing the existing facility to remain as a sculptural pavilion in the landscape while the expansion creates a new urban place integrated into the waterfront public spaces. The two facilities are linked and can host one large event, or separate simultaneous events.
Which architectural, material and other considerations are important upgrading a modernist convention centre and creating a new extension?
The architectural approach to Vancouver Convention Centre West is to create a highly sustainable activity node in the life of the city, contributing to the vibrancy of the downtown core and strengthening its framework of public space and relationship to its landscape and marine environment. The result is a community experience that is simultaneously a convention facility, an urban plaza, a park, and an ecosystem. The programme emphasises spaces for both public and private events, gatherings, and circulation, mixing the energy of convention visitors with the life of the city.
The entire perimeter enclosure is an ultra-clear glass system, visually reinforcing the integration of urban and waterfront context into the user experience of the building. The deep green approach to sustainability incorporates energy conservation, water conservation, integration with urban infrastructure, and hosting of marine and landscape ecosystems on site. Public space extends through and around the site, enhancing civic life and supporting density in the urban context. The opportunity for dense urban development with mixed uses of residential, commercial, institutional, and civic uses is enhanced by the public spaces provided by the convention centre expansion.
What advice would you have to participants on designing an upgrade for the Prague Congress Centre and improving its connections to the city?
Every convention centre project, because of its scale, makes a significant impact on its urban place. Because every place is unique, the design approach should be a unique and integrated response to enrich the particular situation of its urban setting.