Pergola Instead of Brutalism? New Hlavák Faces Criticism

Prahy města hlavního rozvoje a plánování Institut, ČTK

A recent architectural competition for redesigning the Main Train Station, a notable location in the Czech Republic, has sparked controversy. The winning design, proposed by the prestigious Danish studios Hennig Larsen and Ramboll, includes removing part of a ticket hall built in the so-called brutalist style by leading local architects in the 70s.

The proposal is facing backlash, with critics concerned about the replacement of a brutalist structure with a pergola. The design involves removing the roof and front part of the ticket hall and replacing it with a tall, long, and wide wooden roof, somewhat like a pergola, according to the jury chairman, Jaroslav Wertig.

Wertig described the design as “radical, revolutionary, and sensitive to history,” as it renewed pedestrian connections to the central station’s surface of the Art Nouveau Fant Building. Yet, the pergola concept has been criticized for creating an open space, raising concerns about attracting pigeons and obstructing views of the Fant Building. Others point out the challenges during winter, given that Prague’s climate is far from Dubai’s.

Jan Kasl, head of the Czech Chamber of Architects, humorously suggested that the authors might be anticipating climate change, in which the four seasons shrink to a long and a short summer.

From the beginning, former deputy mayor Adam Scheinherr (Prague for itself), who was present at the competition announcement, emphasized that radical interventions should be limited to the park, the sides of the ticket hall, and the parking lot area. He pointed out a significant reduction in indoor spaces for waiting passengers.

Public opinion is being sought. Creators and the Institute of Planning and Development are preparing to collect residents’ attitudes, objections, and suggestions from December 12th to the end of February. “It will be up to the citizens; we will listen to what you have in your heart,” promised Greta Tiedje from Hennig Larsen.