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Competition: Svratka Riverfront, Czech Republic

The City of Brno has launched an open international contest to overhaul the banks of the River Svratka in the Czech Republic (Deadline: 28 February)

Open to all architects and urban planners able to practise in Europe, the competition seeks ‘thoroughly considered’ proposals to upgrade a 3km stretch of the river, which rises in the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands and converges with the River Svitava in central Brno.

The project aims to boost access to the ‘dull and functional’ river, which is poorly connected to the city, by delivering a series of green interventions that promote social interaction and natural ecology. New flood defences to protect surrounding residential and commercial districts will also be required.

Brno, Czech

Brno, Czech

River Svratka

According to the brief: ‘This competition, taking as its goal the project of making the river Svratka more accessible while increasing the protection of property and lives among the citizens of Brno, is part of the city’s vision for future development. As a result, we expect from the designs a strategic conception of an approach to planning the banks of the Svratka accompanied with a plan of considered “acupuncture” interventions reflecting the changing character of the north and south banks from the east to the west.

‘The design should also not forget the highly diverse social composition of the residents, who will use the embankments for strolling, sports or cultural activities in all possible forms and in all seasons of the year. In other words, the contestants are asked to present, in addition to the plans of the landscaping and flood protection, a program for the use of the land under discussion as a whole and in its parts – a kind of palette of scenarios and possibilities that suggest what could take place in this area.’

Brno is the Czech Republic’s second largest city with 810,000 inhabitants, and is a major centre of the country’s judiciary, hosting the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and the Supreme Administrative Court. It is also home to 13 higher education institutions and around 89,000 students.

Key landmarks within the city include the 1928 Brno Exhibition Centre with a capacity for 60,000 visitors, the hilltop 13th-century Špilberk Castle and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s suburban Villa Tugendhat.

Brno, Czech

Brno, Czech

River Svratka aerial

Submissions should cover the entire riverfront area between the Riviéra swimming baths, exposition grounds and Kamenná kolonie suburb up to the rail viaduct between Pražákova and Uhelná. Proposals must incorporate new public spaces, landscape improvements and flood protection measures.

Judges include local architect and urban planner Aleš Burian, Brno deputy mayor Martin Ander, and Susan Kraupp of Vienna-based SK Architektur & Stadtplanung.

There will be a first prize of €20,370, second prize of €14,800 and third prize of €11,100, but all prize winners will be invited to negotiate for the design commission. A further €7,400 will be shared between further teams receiving honourable mentions.

How to apply


The submissions deadline is 3.30 pm local time (CET) on 28 February.

Contact details

Ing. arch. Igor Kovačević, Ph.D.
U Půjčovny 4
110 00 Prague 1
Czech Republic

Tel: +420 222 222 521, +420 603 810 083

Visit the competition website for more information

Svratka Riverfront

Svratka Riverfront 2

Westerkade case study: Q&A with Martin Knuijt

The founding partner of OKRA discusses lessons learned revitalising the waterfront in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

How did your Westerkade project revitalise Rotterdam’s disused quays and create sustainable green spaces?

The quays were a long forgotten area in the city of Rotterdam. After approval of OKRA’s masterplan on public realm, the city centre has undergone positive change with the densification and revitalisation of its centre, and with these changes the focus has shifted towards the quays. The challenge for the quays was how they should be incorporated as valuable places to stay along the water’s edge. Key was to transform a former parking lot along the water into a green promenade along the Meuse. To make Westerkade and Parkkade attractive, we chose to create green park-like quays with a clear distinction between places to stay and circulation space. The alternations of small and large spaces create conditions where events can be accommodated along the quay while remaining an intimate space on quiet days.



Westerkade by OKRA

What architectural, material and other considerations are important when upgrading waterfront spaces?

The idea is to provide places where people can sit and enjoy both the magnitude of the river and the seasonal effects of planting on the quay. The tree-lined quay is enhanced by a sequence of planting areas with wide sitting edges. The planting, as proposed by Piet Oudolf, creates an alternating image through the seasons. And it is important to connect to the water. A wide staircase and jetty has been designed at the end of Westerkade, allowing visitors to sit closer to the water, and also forms a new stop for the water taxi.



Westerkade by OKRA

What advice would you have to  participants designing a riverbank landscape for the Svratka in Brno?

In my opinion it is important to connect the riverfront to the city and to create ‘place’ instead of ‘space’. Shortly after being realised, Westerkade became a popular destination for locals and visitors. One could see this transformation as a model for changing the riverbanks. For the riverbank landscape in Brno it would be great if the quays could be transformed into a recreational ribbon, changing daily living environment as in Rotterdam, and contributing to the concept of a green and healthy city.



Westerkade by OKRA