Filharmonia Wełtawska

Vltava Philharmonic: one of the most anticipated Czech investments

The Vltavská Filharmonie Praha (Vltavská Philharmonic Prague) is one of the most anticipated architectural projects to be realised in the Czech capital, Prague. The city, in cooperation with the Prague Institute for Planning and Development, announced an international architectural competition in 2021 to design a new concert hall that would meet global standards. A year later, the winning concept was selected. The Danish studio BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group – was awarded the main prize. The design was then transformed into a detailed architectural study.

The resulting study envisages the construction of a modern music centre to be located in Prague’s Holešlovice. In addition to proposing the body of the building itself, the concept also presents ingenious solutions for the public space, such as opening up the riverfront to the public and providing numerous terraces, including one on the roof. The roof itself, on the other hand, will be a continuation of the public space of the square. Thanks to its stepped form, walkers will be able to climb to the top of the building and admire the panorama of Prague without having to go inside. Alongside the newly added greenery, there will also be space for a plaza for, among other things, outdoor events.

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The most important part of the Vltava Philharmonic will be its auditoriums with their own facilities and public spaces, but an equally important role will be played by the Creative Centre with a music library. The building will house: Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Prague Symphony Orchestra FOK and the Music Department of the Prague City Library. The architectural study also took into account the voice and opinion of the public, i.e. Prague residents, local community stakeholders, as well as the opinion of experts in the fields of acoustics, transport and greenery.

The Vltava Philharmonic offers a compact structure designed for maximum efficiency, easy access and orientation. The new building is intended to be a vibrant centre of urban activity. The edifice will be located in the corner of the site, allowing for the creation of a large urban square to which the foyer will be directed. The philharmonic’s four elevations will allow access to the building and communication with the surrounding neighbourhoods. Each side will be given a unique character. The building has been organised diagonally. A new city park will be created to the east of it, while access to the river will be opened up to the south, a square will be created to the west and a view of the neighbourhood to the north.

Filharmonia Wełtawska

Plants play a key role in the design concept, reflecting inspiration from species found along the course of the Vltava River. The planting design is intended to tell stories about the river and the city. In combination with key urban plants found in Prague, the selected species will mimic forest biotopes, adapting varieties to the needs of urban conditions. The plantings will connect to existing green networks, improving the city’s biodiversity and complementing green corridors. The new trees will create a shady canopy to provide respite for walkers on sunny days. The heart of the building will be the Main Hall with its adjoining foyer, which will offer views of Prague’s historic centre. Next to it will be the Chamber Hall, facing the waterfront, and the Multipurpose Hall, facing the city.

In designing the building, the BIG team wanted to draw on the traditions and history of the Czech Republic. The wood used there will come from Šumava, a village located at the mouth of the Vltava River. According to the design, the wooden ceilings penetrate from the outside to the inside and symbolise the openness of the building to its surroundings. The wavy, transparent wall of the philharmonic is intended to refer to the rich heritage of the Czech glass industry. The flowing geometry draws inspiration from the neighbouring river. Slender columns support the terrace, while wooden ceilings provide shade and shelter. The façade, made of panels of different sizes, adapts to the morphology of the roof. The glass façade acts as both an outer shell and an acoustic element. The granite is reminiscent of traditional Prague paving. The individual terraces are connected by a common path leading to the very top of the building. This is a place to spend time, listen to the music of the city and enjoy the Prague skyline. The paths on the terraces will be lined with stone and green elements that will offset the differences in height of the building, adding to its dynamism.

The Vltava Philharmonic will become the main initiator of the revitalisation of the neglected, post-industrial Bubny-Zátory district. Ultimately, 25,000 people are to live in the newly developed space. In the coming years, a contractor for the works will be selected and it will be necessary to complete the project documentation and all permits. This phase will take approximately four years and will involve hundreds of experts from all over the world. Construction of the facility should begin in 2027, with an opening scheduled for 2032.

Project: studio BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group
Project website:
Project year: 2022
Year of completion: 2032
Photographer: BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group

About the studio:
BIG – an architectural office founded in 2001 in Copenhagen by Bjarke Ingels and Julien De Smedt. The studio’s other projects include Copenhagen Harbour Baths and the Maritime Youth House.

Source: Bjarke Ingels Group

Read also: Czech Republic | Prague | Wood | Glass | Curiosities | Minimalism

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