Gehl, an architecture firm, proposed their dream to revamp Prague’s North-South Highway on Tuesday, June 27. The Danish company markets itself as an international firm seeking to redesign cities and make them better suited for people.
The stretch which the Gehl architects have proposed to rehabilitate experiences heavy traffic, passing through heavily populated neighborhoods and important institutions, such as the National Museum and the State Opera.
While much of the surrounding area is beautiful, the stretch of highway is an eye-sore. With few places to cross on foot, the roadway is also inaccessible to pedestrians. The idea is to improve the area, making it visually alluring, as well as practical. The project follows three primary principles in its design: environment, people, and mobility.
“The highway should become a vibrant city boulevard with wide walkways, active parks and alleyways. We know that this will be a long way to go, but thanks to Gehl Architects we know what to begin with and how to gradually build a consensus on the future shape of the highway,” said Petra Kolínská, Deputy Mayor for Territorial Development.
The proposal includes both short and long-term ideas which Prague can implement and improve life in the city. One potential major drawback with turning areas like roadways, or city centers, into publics spaces is that it can constrain, or eliminate, traffic flows. However, this will not be the case for Prague.
“The important quality of the proposal is that their vision does not include any radical limitation of car traffic – the key to transformation is the improvement of adjacent public spaces,” said Prague’s mayor, Adriana Krnáčová in a press release.
The company focuses on creating public spaces, making cities accessible to people. With diverse client base, the company works for city governments, NGOs, as well both private and public developers. The company’s services range from design to implementation.
Prague City Council, along with affiliated organizations and many independent individuals have put significant efforts into creating and improving public spaces around Prague. Gehl has concentrated its efforts in designing public spaces in order to improve life.
“Our work focuses on the human dimension, focusing on how the built environment is connected with the everyday life of people,” said Jan Gehl, one the primary founders of the company. The cooperation was approved in October of 2016.
Gehl has worked in London, Vienna, Copenhagen, Oslo, Moscow, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sydney, and many more. The firms has previously done two projects in Prague, one from 2006-07 and another in 2008.
Here is a list of some of the main goals:
- Connect public buildings to city space
- Improve park quality and create green spaces around the highway
- Make the National Museum one Prague’s icons, connecting it to Wenceslas Square
- Add pedestrian crossing areas
- Promote active land usage (playgrounds, city benches, etc)
- Improve pedestrian and bicycle traffic
- Establish a bus or tram line
- Convert the highway into a bidirectional road
- Relocate the parking lot in the city center to the edge of the city’s center