An open international contest has been announced to design a new primary school within the Smíchov district of Prague, Czech Republic (Deadline: 4 May)
Open to European architects, the anonymous two-stage competition seeks innovative proposals for a 2 x 9 form primary school for 550 pupils on a constrained inner-city site close to the River Vltava.
The intention is to create an exemplar school as part of the wider mixed-use Smíchov City regeneration programme, which aims to transform a large area of former railway sidings between Na Knížecí bus station and Smíchovské Nádraží train station.
Smíchov School, Prague
According to the brief: ‘For a long time, no new schools have been built in Prague’s central public areas. The district government of Prague 5 hopes that this newly emerging area will offer a “public school for the 21st century” – a new school open to modern methods of teaching, which can provide innovative suggestions not only for its own pedagogic activity but offer intriguing possibilities for the rest of the period that the children (and not only they) spend inside the building.
‘The new school should provide innovative suggestions not only for its own pedagogic activity but offer intriguing possibilities for the rest of the period that the children spend inside the building: the overall organisation of space, the original planning of specialised classrooms, or the conception of spaces for class breaks, the lunch hour, and areas for post-school activities or clubs. In addition, it should address the contact with the outdoor environment – with public parks and with the school sports grounds.’
Smíchov is on the west bank of the River Vltava, and is part of the larger of Prague 5 district. Local landmarks include the Golden Angel office block by Jean Nouvel and the Staropramen brewery.
The school will be built on a 6,400m² site close to the intersection of the streets Nádražní and U Železničního mostu and bounded by existing railway tracks.
Smíchov School, Prague
Proposals should include an auditorium, dining and sports facilities and a caretaker’s flat while also responding to the urban context and emerging plans for the surrounding area.
The competition is organised by the Centre for Central European Architecture and submissions may be in English or Czech. Judges include architects Anne Uhlmann and Kamila Amblerová and local councillor Tomáš Homola.
Six shortlisted teams will be invited to further develop their designs during the competition’s second phase which concludes on 17 August.
The overall winner will receive a CZK 900,000 and the design commission. A second place prize of CZK 600,000, third place prize of CZK 400,000 and three purchases worth CZK 200,000 will also be awarded.
How to apply
The deadline for submissions is 5pm local time (CET) on 4 May
U Půjčovny 4
Tel: 222 222 521
Visit the competition website for more information
Q&A with Zuzana Hamanová
The juror, architect and chair of Prague 5’s Committee on Territorial Development discusses her ambitions for the competition
Why are your holding a contest for a primary school in the Prague suburb of Smíchov?
I feel I must correct your question a bit. Smíchov is no suburb of Prague nowadays; it forms a part of the broader city centre in direct contact with the UNESCO heritage area. Smíchov was an industrial suburb in the 19th century although it has experienced an amazing and ongoing construction boom. The planned school is part of an urban concept connected to the compact internal city. It is a location of the entrance to Prague from the south, which is of special interest particularly because there are no suburbs here; the city environment is entered straight from the natural area of the Vltava valley.
There should be a city school in Smíchov City. No new city school has been built in Prague in the last quarter of a century so we understand the situation as a challenge to explore the best solutions from the perspectives of form and content alike. A contest involving a comparison of multiple ideas is the best method of achieving this objective. We open the contest as an international one since we believe the international dimension will be beneficial to us.
What is your vision for the new school?
Our vision is a ‘school for the 21st century’. So far, the traditional concept of school buildings has been rather conservative here, basically connecting to the Austro-Hungarian education tradition. Therefore, we view the plan for a new school for 550 pupils as an opportunity to introduce interesting environments not only for classes alone, but for after-school and leisure time activities as well. The complexity of all points of view: visual form, inspirational space design as well as environmental friendliness will be significant for a good result. The area concerned has around 6,400m². An advantage of the project is the location of the plot on the corner of two intended parks, straight on the designed pedestrian ‘boulevard’ through the new residential quarter. The proximity of the railway and a rather complicated foundation situation are then slight disadvantages.
What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?
We believe that the contest could appeal to all creative architects without any restrictions. The location is a prestigious and interesting place, and the victory should bring well deserved acknowledgment to the author.
Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?
The contest is the first opportunity in a long time where the Prague 5 Metropolitan District wishes to acquire a new public building project in this manner. It will be the first experience of its kind and for future, a lot will depend on the result. Any future decisions will be passed by the new Council of the Metropolitan District after the October 2018 election.
Are there any other similar suburban school projects you have been impressed by?
Recent examples of school buildings appear mostly in the suburbs where they have more generous conditions with respect to land area. I found Skovbakke School in the city of Odder, Denmark (2017, CEBRA studio) particularly interesting, primarily with respect to its interiors.