The Prague municipal authority has recently decided that the abandoned historical town hall building will be used as a centre of education, culture and creativity. The building is located on the Small Square in the very heart of the centre of Prague. The original plan had been to turn it into luxury apartments. The new decision was made by the Prague Municipal Authority, the Prague Institute for Planning and Development and the Charles University in Prague. They have also offered other important institutions to take part in the project, including the National Gallery, Municipal Library of Prague and the Film and TV School of Academy of Performing Arts in Prague FAMU. The main idea is to create a platform for creative people like artists and scholars, which would allow them to cooperate on their projects and organize exhibitions and lectures for the general public. The ThinkPrague team is quite excited about this plan and we consider it an important step in the right direction in terms of making our beautiful city even better. We will now explain why we think this is a great idea.
Abandoned buildings in the centre of Prague
The town hall is just one of many similar buildings that have been abandoned and some of them are not under any maintenance whatsoever. Most of them are owned by private owners who do not have any use for them, do not want to invest any money into their reconstruction or simply do not care. Others, like the town hall, are owned by the municipal authority but the decision what to do with them is subject to protracted nightmarish bureaucratic processes, which often lead nowhere. ThinkPrague considers this situation – letting beautiful historical buildings fall apart, empty and without any purpose – as one of Prague’s most regretful failures to do something. Many people have recently expressed their disappointment in this trend and we believe that this project might be one of the first positive results of this “constructive criticism”.
Image credits: profimedia
Similar projects in other European cities
The concept itself is nothing new: in other cities including Berlin, Vienna or Budapest, similar projects have been done for years. If you ask anyone involved in them, they will confirm how much they have benefited their cities and the local intellectual and creative public. Another great advantage is that the centres facilitate international cooperation between artists and scholars in these cities, bringing another added value. In this sense, it really is not about being innovative but more like catching up for Prague.
Tourism versus authenticity
Being a travel agency, ThinkPrague can also see the value of the project from the tourists’ perspective. Despite all the beautiful monuments, Prague is still a kind of a theatre for tourists. Everywhere you go, there are countless souvenir shops, overpriced restaurants and various strategically placed attractions with intended only to make easy money. Although we cannot put all of them into the same bag, these “attractions” in such extreme numbers partially ruin what Prague could be: a more living, connected and authentic city, where your visit would not be reduced simply to sightseeing and going from one monument to another but visitors would take part in the city’s social life and get a chance to get under the surface. From this perspective, the project is a step in the right direction and we wholeheartedly hope that more will follow soon.