Prague to announce an international architectural competition for the Vltava Philharmonic Hall in August

The jury that, in addition to representatives of the political and professional elite, will also include prominent international and Czech architects, is set to select the winning competition proposal in May 2022. 18 million crowns have been set aside for the winners, the award-winning competition proposals and compensation for those competition proposals not selected.

The Czech Republic and its capital, Prague, both await an event of international importance in the field of architecture after 15 long years (since the National Library project). An international architectural competition will be announced for the design of the new Vltava Philharmonic Hall in mid-August this year. The continuation of this project has been repeatedly approved by the Prague City Council and the Prague City Assembly.  The final vote on May 27 saw all 55 representatives present in favor (no one against and no abstentions).

The importance of the competition, for which around 18 million crowns (not including VAT) have been set aside to cover the prize, compensation for those competition proposals not selected and other remuneration, is also consistent with the composition of the jury. This has a total of 33 members. Jury members will include one of the most famous and internationally-respected Czech architects, Josef Pleskot, and Michal Sedláček, the current Chief Architect of the City of Brno, a man with an international reputation. The other members of the jury include Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib, his first deputy and architect Petr Hlaváček, Mayor of Prague 7 Jan Čižinský, and head of the Vltava Philharmonic Hall project team and architect from the A 8000 studio Martin Krupauer. The jury also counts on a number of world-renowned names in architecture, whose binding confirmation we are currently awaiting.

After the competition announcement in August, the jury is expected to evaluate the submitted applications in October this year and select those to work on competition proposals. A contract will be signed with the winner of the architectural competition shortly after the evaluation of the competition in May 2022. Work will then get underway on the development of the project documentation and procurement of the necessary permits to begin construction. According to the plan, the entire second stage of the project should be completed in 2025. Its costs will run to CZK 750 million.

The third and final stage will begin with the selection of a contractor during 2026, with building work expected to commence in 2027. The direct construction costs of building the Philharmonic Hall itself come to 4.9 billion crowns. An economic analysis compiled recommends dividing these between the state, the capital city and the private sector, in that this option is the most advantageous of all. It is therefore expected that the state and private investors will enter the project financially when planned construction work begins in 2027. The new concert hall is due for completion in 2031, in 10 years' time. The total costs of building the Vltava Philharmonic Hall are estimated at CZK 6.1 billion.

Negotiations with the state on the conclusion of a memorandum are still ongoing. It is currently stated in the proposal, for example, that Prague City Hall and the Ministry of Culture will look for specific ways of using subsidies for the execution of the project. The text of the memorandum also contains reference to the possibility of announcing a public collection to finance building work. Czechs would then have the opportunity to financially help build another cultural "shrine" to be proud of after more than 150 years. Just like previous generations in the construction of the National Theater.

Press conference for the Vltava Philharmonic Hall, 08. 06. 2021. From the left: Zdeněk Hřib, Hana Třeštíková, Lubomír Zaorálek, Ondřej Špaček, Lenka Burgerová, Jan Čižinský, Petr Hlaváček, Josef Pleskot, Roman Bělor, Tomáš Řehák and Daniel Sobotka.
Press conference for the Vltava Philharmonic Hall, 08. 06. 2021. From the left: Zdeněk Hřib, Hana Třeštíková, Lubomír Zaorálek, Ondřej Špaček, Lenka Burgerová, Jan Čižinský, Petr Hlaváček, Josef Pleskot, Roman Bělor, Tomáš Řehák and Daniel Sobotka.

Building program and participation within the terms of the architectural competition

The terms and the assignment of the architectural competition will include, inter alia, a preliminary proposal for the building program based on the recommendations of a usability analysis compiled by the Henning Larsen consortium. The Vltava Philharmonic Hall building is understood therein as a complex of several blocks that communicate with each other, the operations of which can complement, link or combine with each other, or function separately. This will ensure that the Vltava Philharmonic Hall takes on the role of a living and creative social center all day, seven days a week (24/7).

"The heart of the Vltava Philharmonic Hall lies in its auditoriums, their facilities and its public space - the foyer. A block called the Creative Hub, with a music library at its center, will have an equally important function. Creative work will be supported by rehearsal rooms, studies and educational facilities. The outdoor public space also plays an important role and given the magnificent panoramic views of Prague from the site, we also have the opportunity to use the roof or a terrace,” said Deputy Mayor for Spatial Development and the Land Use Plan Petr Hlaváček in describing the main points of the building program.

The main blocks of the building will be supported in terms of operation and production by technical and technological production facilities. There will also be facilities for both of the most prominent Czech symphony orchestras based in Prague - the Czech Philharmonic and the FOK Prague Symphony Orchestra. The two orchestras will also have adequate residential space in the building. Catering will offer a wide range of services to visitors and serve employees, performers and ad hoc events alike.

"The construction of the new Philharmonic Hall will fundamentally transform the Vltavská area, meaning that it is very important to fine-tune all ties with the surrounding area – the link to urban and suburban public transport, the permeability of the area for pedestrians, and the functions that the building should have for us to make the most of what it brings. I believe that it will succeed thanks to the international architectural competition and the essential participation of the residents of Prague from the seventh municipal district, and the whole city, that the Vltava Philharmonic Hall will perfectly complement the space between Bubenské nábřeží and nábřeží kapitána Jaroše, and that we will finally heal the scar on the face of Prague,” adds Mayor of Prague 7 and representative of the city Jan Čižinský.

The proposed building program also includes a tour route that takes visitors through the whole building and allows them to see areas they would normally be off limits – rehearsal rooms, studies, and even the auditoriums at times when no rehearsals or concerts are taking place. Transport services include an underground parking lot, drop-off and pick-up points, areas at which passengers can get on or get off tour coaches, taxi spaces, facilities for receiving supplies and welcoming performers, and parking spaces for mobile units.

"Public participation is currently in full swing. Those interested can fill in a questionnaire or take part in a public walk that we have planned for today, 8 June, at 6 p.m., meeting at Vltavská Metro station. The results of the participation will be taken into account in the competition assignment specifications,” said Ondřej Boháč, Director of IPR Prague. All details of the project and of the participation itself are available at the IPR website.

Vibration measurements have already been carried out at the place where the Vltava Philharmonic Hall will stand, the results of which are currently being evaluated. Further measurements will be taken in the coming months using special bore holes, and a noise study is under preparation.