Client: Prague Institute of Planning and Development
Status: Competition (2022)
Clasification: 1 prize
Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Climate: Continental, Temperate
Materials: Concrete, Glass
Scale: 49.715 ㎡ Large
Types: Cultural, Opera, Theater
Located at the intersection between the Vltava riverfront and Prague’s Cultural Mile, the Vltava Philharmonic Hall will connect the Old Town’s traditional cultural scene with the Holešovice neighborhood’s modern art scene and become a new civic heart for Prague and the surrounding public realm.
An essential public building for the Holešovice district and a new focal point for Prague, the new Vltava Philharmonic extends horizontally and vertically in all directions to create key urban connections and form a recognizable landmark for surrounding communities near and far. Ascending from the Vltava River to the skyline of Prague, a series of grand public plazas will become a new symbol of inclusionary architecture, welcoming the multitude of Prague’s vibrant urban life to flow across, through, under and over the new concert hall.
“The Vltava Philharmonic Hall is composed as a meandering journey from riverbank to rooftop. Public flows and belvedere plazas unite the city life of Prague to the music within. Its halls are formed for sight, fine-tuned for sound, and orchestrated for functionality and connectivity. From this rhythmic structure, a symphony of colonnades and balconies extend as platforms for public life. Expressive yet pragmatic, the new Philharmonic will ascend to form a key landmark for Prague – from river to roof.” Bjarke Ingels, Founder & Partner, BIG.
A contemporary extension of Prague’s dramatic urban topography, the Vltava Philharmonic Hall is composed as a cascade of outdoor destinations from the waterfront on the river to the city’s iconic skyline. By raising and lowering the corners of the building at multiple touch points, the public spaces connect and allow activities to spill in and out of the building on every side: towards the river, the square, the street, and the alley. Visitors are drawn in from all forms of arrival, with carefully chosen programs inviting them to explore the music venues inside or climb the elegant, arced roofs of the Hall.
The roofs are conceived as a continuation of the grand public plaza at the foot of the building. The undulating stepped form of the roofs allows visitors to meander to the summit of the building, as if climbing a hill. Slender vertical colonnades support the building’s roof terraces while undersides of warm timber from the Bohemian Forest provide shade and shelter. A space to sit and to gather, spaces for informal outdoor performances and views inward to the Philharmonic’s lively musical environment.
Arriving in the grand foyer, guests are greeted by a striking interior inspired by Czech Glass Artists which lead them into the music venues – the more versatile Prague and Holešovice Halls or the main concert venue The Vltava Hall – which will bring a truly contemporary music experience to Prague. Arranged like petals of a pinecone turned inside out, the seats of Prague Hall are rotating within the compactness of a perfect square. The seating rakes meet at their corners to allow physical connectivity between every seat in the audience, providing a greater sense of unity and shared experience. Warm timber interiors provide balanced acoustics with a natural material, and form an environment designed to strengthen the intimate connection between the audience and orchestra.
“The new Vltava Philharmonic Hall will be a symbol of openness, accessibility, and exploration. From the Vltava square, streets ascend upward connecting interior balconies with exterior colonnades and terraces. Like eighth, quarter, half and whole notes, the steps the benches, façade, and colonnade are perfectly on beat offering its resident orchestras effective and extroverted rehearsal areas, while bringing the audiences within the halls closer to the source in an environment that is both majestic and intimate.” Brian Yang, Partner in Charge, BIG.
Beyond being a major cultural destination for Prague, the building is crafted to maximize its potential to host external uses and special events. The venues are carefully designed to maximize flexibility for a range of uses – from the boldness of contemporary music styles to theater performances and digital exhibitions. At the buildings summit, an elegant hyperbolic structure spans over the Vltava Hall and forms the iconic ceiling of restaurant and event ballroom framing views of the historic city center of Prague and becoming a major destination for social gatherings of all kinds.