Old ice vaults along Prague's Vltava River have been transformed into spaces for cafés, bars, workshops and studios. With their large rounded portholes that look out onto the water, these central spots have now been turned into unique and usable public spaces for different cultural and social activities.
Originally used to store ice, 20 of the renewed vaults will serve as spaces for workshops, galleries, studios and clubs, with one being a library branch and some being used as a space for neighbourhood meetings and public toilets. The vaults can be changed for a number of different uses, with the design process concentrating on the different possible adjustments.
The vaults will have tenants, with many people who have already set up projects in the riverfront area using some, while new projects have been selected from a wide variety of plans in a competition that was open to the public.
The €6.5 million development began in 2009 as a planned revitalization of the Prague riverfront area. Originally used as a quay and shipment point, the area was deserted after bad flooding in 2002 and was subsequently used as a parking lot. The site has been rebuilt over the last ten years however, to create a space for cultural and social events. The revitalized area expands four kilometres along the bank. The completed first phase is Prague’s largest investment in public space since 1989.
The project was designed by Petr Janda at Brainwork architects. “The reaction from the public was the warmest we have ever received. We hope this realization will bring new standards to public space architecture that works with community activation. The main idea was to open the dark inner spaces in the riverfront walls to the sunlight and with them into contact with the river as much as possible,” Petr Janda told Lonely Planet.
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