The proposed appearance of the entire area emphasises sustainability, micro-mobility and the return of life to Vrchlické Sady. Credit: Henning Larsen architects.

Danish Architects Will Transform Prague’s Main Railway Station Into “Šťastný Hlavák”

The Danish studio Henning Larsen Architects won the competition tender for the renovation of the area of ​​the main railway station in Prague, with its design called “Šťastný Hlavák”. Its main idea is the natural connection of “Vrchlické Sady”, the check-in hall, the new tram stop directly in front of the station and the historic “Fanta’s building”. The proposed appearance of the entire area emphasises sustainability, micro-mobility and the return of life to Vrchlické Sady. Henning Larsen Architects is part of the Danish Ramboll group and is among the world leaders in the field of complex urban designs.

The vision of “Happy Hlavák” is to welcome visitors to the city and to create a public space that is comfortable for residents and travellers. The dominant feature of the design is the wooden roof structure, which connects ​​Vrchlické sady, the new check-in hall and the planned tram stop. At the same time, the studio divided Vrchlické sady into three parts: a cultural zone, a “station square” and a zone for additional activities. 

Thanks to this, a suitable space will be created for events such as markets. The division will also significantly improve the clarity of the entire area. The proposal will also improve conditions for pedestrians and cyclists, and brings ideas for the sustainable management of the entire area, such as efficient management of rainwater and a new approach to the park as an interpretation of the historical division.

“The cooperation with the contracting authorities in the competitive dialogue from the beginning to the design process was excellent and we think the result speaks for itself,” said Jacob Kurek, Global Market Director at Henning Larsen. “We are therefore proud to present a new gateway to the city that will warmly welcome its residents and visitors. The beauty of the assignment lay in its holistic nature, which challenged us to connect individual areas into a cohesive whole. Together, we tried to connect the urban space as best as possible and create a unified and functional place. Thanks to this vision, we created a design that honours the values ​​of the Fanta building, the check-in hall and connects them to the park. Our ambition is for the new station to be not only a sustainable and functional transport hub, but also to become a part of people’s everyday life and a place where they will meet and spend time. We are happy that we can contribute to the development of Prague.” 

Šťastný Hlavák architecturally and urbanistically solves the current problems of the entire area, and responds to the needs of individual clients, including the City of Prague, the Railway Administration and the Prague Transport Company. Following the planned calming of the highway, improvements to the entire area will improve the mobility of passengers and residents, thanks to a new tram stop directly in front of the check-in hall and a connection towards Masaryk station and other city destinations.

“The design of the Henning Larsen Architects studio precisely identifies the current problems of the entire area and brings an answer to them,” explained Jaroslav Wertig, chairman of the Evaluation Commission..”The evaluation committee was impressed by the harmony between architecture, urban planning, landscape design and transport, which has the potential to bring passengers and residents of Prague a much more transparent space that will be more pleasant and comfortable for them. Although the proposal seems quite radical, it coped well with the space located in the Prague heritage reserve. It preserves the historical architectural elements, which it further develops, while at the same time counting on the restoration and revitalization of the space in front of the Fant building.” 

The evaluation committee appreciated the complexity of the approach and the comprehensiveness of the solution for the entire area. The design opens up and brightens the check-in hall and improves clarity and fluidity of passenger movement, which will prepare the hall and the park for the expected increase in the number of passengers in the coming decades.

“The winning design responds to the need to modernise the departure hall of the main station and prepare it for the future,” said Jiří Svoboda, CEO of the Railway Administration. “At the same time, it naturally connects it with the space of the park and the planned tram line directly in front of the building, while maintaining respect for the environment where the hall is located. What impressed me the most about the proposal is the comfortable connection with the Fanta’s building. I believe that in this way it will once again live up to its glory and once again become a used part of the main railway station complex in Prague.” 

Henning Larsen Architects works with the Vrchlické sady and the arrivals hall as a whole and transfers some artistic elements from the hall to the park, such as by using the iconic pavement in the new “station square”. The proposal also envisages the planting of new greenery that better adapts to future climate changes. The Vrchlické Sady renovation will also include clear directions to other city destinations, including in the direction of Masaryk Station, which will also undergo modernization and will be the starting point for trains to Prague Airport.

The new station will also be served by a new tram line that will lead from the National Museum to Wilsonova and Washingtonova to the check-in hall, and then through Opletalova to Bolzanova. The Prague spatial plan is already counting on this plan. 

“The new line will better connect the main station to the city’s public transport, and at the same time will enable a better routing of the tram lines in the city centre,” explained Petr Witowski, chair and general manager of the Prague Transport Company. “We are glad that we managed to combine the intentions of several investors and find a comprehensive solution in the area. In the winning design, the new tram line is sensitively integrated into the architectural design of the entire area. The proposal also enables an easy connection to the future metro D.” 

The announcement of the winning proposal will be followed by the signing of contracts and the completion of the study, based on the requirements of the contracting authorities as well as public opinion. It will take place at the turn of this year and next year. Subsequently, project documentation will be drawn up and discussed for permitting. The expected start of the redesign is 2028, and according to preliminary estimates, implementation should cost about CZK 2 billion.

Visitors can view the competition designs in an exhibition at the Center for Architecture and Urban Planning (CAMP) until 17 December 2023.

Danish Architects Will Transform Prague’s Main Railway Station Into “Šťastný Hlavák”
Reader Rating0 Votes