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Prague wants to revitalise its housing estates. Starting with Černý Most

Neglected greenery, anonymous residents and a lack of leisure activities – these are the most common ailments afflicting Prague’s housing estates. Until now, Prague is often neglected their problems, although more than one-third of the city’s residents live in tower blocks. On the basis of a City Council resolution, the Prague Institute of Planning and Development (IPR) wants to remedy this and, in collaboration with the Prague 14 district authorities and local residents, to develop a holistic approach to revitalising these areas. The first site on which it will focus is part of the Černý Most housing estate.

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“We want people to enjoy living in housing estates more than they do today. But first we have to decide how to revitalise these aging sites, to promote civic amenities and to maintain a diverse social mix, where university professors live next door to manual workers. This is what the local population values most, alongside a peaceful environment and the proximity to nature,” says Adam Švejda, spokesperson for the Prague Institute of Planning and Development. It is the IPR that will develop the concept of how the city should approach the revitalisation of tower block estates located on its territory.

 

A plan for the revitalisation of the Vybíralova block at Černý Most is due to be published in summer 2016, and this can subsequently start to be implemented. It will primarily focus on public spaces, increasing the economic potential of the area, expanding the range of leisure activities and reviving civic life. IPR will work with the Prague 14 district authorities to develop the plan and will also involve local associations, businesses and the general public. It is the local residents who best understand the value of the estate. The city’s aim is not only to improve a specific location, but, most importantly, to apply its practical experience to IPR conceptual documents, which will help to revitalise other estates.

 

The city is in a strong position to drive change, because it owns a large part of the streets and other areas of the housing estate. However, the problem is that the city has no clear idea of what should be changed and how. The last plan was drawn up 15 years ago. Since that time, not only have the housing estates, and their residents, aged, but the city’s priorities have also changed.

Because of this, the city has decided to develop a conceptual approach to housing estates. A coherent and well-targeted renovation of public spaces and more effective management and maintenance should improve the general environment. The new concept will be designed to avoid unnecessary expenditure and to make the best use of existing resources. Prague housing estates in general suffer from a lack of funding to invest in and to maintain large open spaces. Local entities will then participate in caring for the environment, which will help to revive the housing estate.

 

A tower block at Černý Most is celebrating its 25th anniversary

 

The first residents moved into the Vybíralova tower block at Černý Most exactly 25 years ago. Since that time, like most of the other housing estates on the outskirts of the capital, the city authorities have shown little interest in it, and it shows. The difficulty of managing the public spaces presents a major challenge today, and the result is extensive green areas with unkempt shrubs and trees, or poorly maintained pavements.  Local residents also complain of a lack of places for leisure activities.

 

On the other hand, actions taken by local residents have meant that things have started to move forward at Černý Most. “It is a unique place with great potential for development, and I believe this will be achieved over the coming years. We cannot view housing estates as appendages from a previous era, but must see them as locations that have their own specific charm and offer their own unique opportunities,” says the Mayor of Prague 14, Radek Vondra.

One example is the subsidised cultural organisation for the Prague 14 district, which runs the local Plechárna leisure centre, organises concerts and other social events. The district authorities, IPR, the Anthropictures research organisation and other initiatives are currently working together to organise a festival to celebrate the quarter century since the arrival of the first tenants.

The “Vybíralka 25” autumn festival is part of the first phase of a project which will lead to an analysis and identification of the needs of the local population. The anniversary programme is packed with a diverse series of events, which will take place inside the Vybíralova block, starting with informative walks around the block and including games for both children and adults and an exhibition on the history of the housing estate and its present situation.

 

During November, St Martin’s festivities will also be included in the programme.

 

→ for more see the Vybíralka 25 facebook page and thewww.vybiralka25.cz website

 

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