Magistrála and Těšnov Park
a second life of an infrastructure
Prague, CZ
To say the least, the relationship between Prague and its Magistrála is marked by ambivalences.

On the one hand, there are those citizens who – in the name of a better, livelier, and more human city – would rather dispose of the Magistrála altogether, seeing it as an antiquated piece of infrastructure dating from another era and as an eyesore disfiguring the beauty of Prague’s townscape. On the other hand, there are those citizens who – in the name of an efficiently accessed city – cherish the value of connectivity and of the Magistrála’s fundamental economic and functional role in sustaining a prosperous city, arguing that the circulation of goods and people within the city and between the inner city and its outlying districts must be maintained.

The study aims to find common ground between seemingly unresolvable positions. Avoiding clearcut ‘either/or’ answers in favor of ‘both/and’ propositions, the question at the center of this study has been: How to resolve the dilemma?

The proposed solutions offer a set of ideas on how to keep the Magistrála as a vital urban infrastructure, while nonetheless transforming it to improve its socio-spatial properties and relations to the city.

There are other urban actors or elements of Prague’s urban fabric that are as much of importance when addressing the future of the city. One of these actors is the existing and sadly ignored Těšnov Park above which the infrastructure has been placed without much consideration for what might happen below. What this study foresees are forms of cohabitation between freeway and park, between the infrastructure flyover and the public space below.

A range of other urban elements or actors (adjacent structures, cross streets, back yards, tramway lines, the river front, historically protected buildings, the train tracks, and the like) are also addressed by this study. However, this study deliberately foregrounds the specific relation between the Magistrála and Těšnov Park, a relation that for too long has been neglected. These two characters are set into dialogue, in which one addresses the limitations of the other while strengthening their respective qualities – a pas de deux played out in multiple episodes of encounter, gradually engaging with other urban actors in multiple movements.

All in all, the study offers comprehensive principles that could enrich the political debate among stakeholders to decide on how to initiate a transformation of both the Magistrála and Těšnov Park. Resulting from the encounter between park and freeway in the future are distinct urban spaces – namely, spaces with specific qualities and atmospheres that have the power to transform the current non-site into a place for human encounter.
project team
Marc Angélil, Matej Draslar (PV), Mindel Michel, Rahime Osmani, Gabriela Ponechalová, Manuel Scholl, Lina von Waldkirch
IBV Hüsler
Tomáš Cach
Petr Tej