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Revitalisation of the Crucifix Bastion

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The construction is part of a wider planned conception for linking the green areas and public spaces of the university campus at Albertov with the adjoining neighbourhoods of the New Town (Nové Město) and Vinohrady. No less important is making publicly accessible the previously unused and neglected localities in the area and the formation of new public outdoor spaces with a corresponding cultural and functional base of associated buildings. Our goal was the landscaping of the public area, the addition of an open-air café and gallery on the site of a ruined building of 19th-century date, and linking the spaces inside and outside the medieval fortification line that has kept the area of gardens and the university campus separate from the other sections of the city. The intended result was the creation of a attractive destination shared by residents of localities both "outside" and "inside" the wall, and the renewal of the essential qualities of the "outcropping": a place with high visibility (both seeing and being seen), a place for connection of both sides of the city.

Revitalisation was completed on the basis of the winning entry in a public architectural competition, held by the district government of Prague 2 in 2007. The new structure for public facilities was designed as a building below ground, a hidden acropolis attracting visitors with its contents and its form, not through mere visibility. It is conceived as an autonomous, solid "seashell", inserted into the layerings of the archaeologically defined stratigraphic levels of Baroque and modern terrain, while not disturbing the character of the fortifications and the visual outline of the defensive walls. In its formal vocabulary, the building is elementary, minimal, and grounded in the material principles of fortification architecture: firmness.

The structure is available for varying uses: a universal hall for exhibitions, social functions or a café, facilities for the public and for operation. With its open front sliding-glass wall, turned towards the panorama of Vyšehrad, the exterior becomes a fully valid component of the interior. The renewed visual communication between the two fortifications helps recall the strategic importance of both structures in the historical urban space. Inside the bastion, the landscaped area allows for outdoor art exhibitions or open-air cultural events. Connection of the areas through the rampart is made possible through a passageway running between the medieval and Baroque fortification walls. Included in the realization is the reconstruction of the wall chapel, supplemented with a contemporary sculpture, "The Crucifixion" (Boží muka).

Revitalisation of the Bastion is the first realized stage of a much larger project intended to spur the process of revival in the wider vicinity, leading local residents to visit the area, and attracting public attention to allow for the continuation of further stages in the project. Insertion of new recreational and cultural functions into the structure of heritage objects makes possible their rescuing - not as lifeless museum-objects, but as a natural, living part of the city.

Evaluation of the Jury

The Bastion's revitalization amply meets the criteria in several categories - reconstruction, landscape architecture, garden architecture, small architectural structures, interior and „rusty" furniture. The peaceful composition of the newly built constructions implemented into the fortification nature of the location communicates naturally with the fine grading. The ascent of a long pavement and ramp supports the perception of beautiful views of the city, and offers a spiritual feeling of openness and lightness. Indeed, it is a positive example for the implementation of a public space in the existing city structure.

source: magazine ARCHITEKT­­

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