BIG wins the international competition for the Vltava Philharmonic Hall in Prague

Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) triumphed in a international design competition looking for proposals for the future Vltava Philharmonic Hall in Prague. When complete (more on that in a moment), the approximately 535,000 square foot waterfront cultural complex in the trendy North of Holesovice will be the first national concert hall built in the European capital for more than a century. As Czech media noted Prague morningthe city’s newest concert hall, the Smetana Hall in the Municipal House, made its debut in 1912.

As BIG detailed in a press release announcing the winthe Vltava Philharmonic Hall, which will host both the FOK Prague Symphony Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic and named after the 267-mile long river that runs through the heart of the city, “will connect the traditional cultural scene of the Old Town with the modern arts scene of the Holešovice district and will become a new civic heart for Prague and the public realm surrounding. “The building, which is part of a larger waterfront revitalization scheme that will eventually give way to the new Bubny-Zatory district, will rise on a large industrial wasteland located near the Vltavská metro station.

The complex’s large square will serve as a natural gathering point for Praguers and residents. (Courtesy of BIG)

The selection of BIG by the competition jury was announcement by the City of Prague and the project’s client, the Institute for Planning and Development at a gala held at the Center for Architecture and Metropolitan Planning earlier this week.

BIG’s proposal, led by lead partners Bjarke Ingels and Brian Yang, was selected from a pool of 19 submissions, including proposals from SANAA, MVRDV, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Henning Larsen Architects, Ateliers Jean Nouvel and d ‘others. David Chipperfield Architects was also in the running, who coincidentally beat BIG (joined by Diamond Schmitt Architects, KWS Architects and ERA Architects) and four other shortlisted teams in another great world competition for a redevelopment program for the Ottawa Parliamentary Precinct, the winning concept of which was also announced earlier this week.

Speak Architects Journalcompetition finalists included Barozzi Veiga with Atelier M1, Slovenian firm Bevk Perović Arhitekti, local firm Petr Hájek Architekti, and Snøhetta.

Riverside walks lead to the evolving roof of the building. (Mozses/Courtesy of BIG)

Joining BIG as part of the extended project team includes several key contributors, including: Theater projects and Nagata acoustics (acoustics), Buro Happold (engineering), DEA (local architect/engineer), ETC (transportation), Systematic (mobility), Front (facades), and mosses (visuals).

Said the president of the competition jury, Michal Sedláček, in a statement:

“Many aspects had to be considered when selecting the winning design. The site of the philharmonic hall currently complicates meetings instead of favoring them. Emphasis was therefore placed not only on the architecture and operation of the building, but also on the design of the surrounding public spaces. The Vltava Philharmonic Hall will become a bustling center of life on Vltavská Street – a new urban park will extend eastward from the building, the south side will open access to water, a square will be created on the west side and there will be a view of the new Bubny-Zátory district to the north. The building itself will be accessible from all directions and at all levels.

Described by Yang as “a symbol of openness, accessibility and exploration”, the Vltava Philharmonic Hall will consist of not one but three separate halls, including a formal 1,800-person concert hall optimized for classical music as well only two more intimate and versatile venues, one of which will be suitable for chamber music performances. New facilities are also planned for the music department of the Prague Municipal Library and a myriad of public amenities such as cafes and restaurants.

foyer area in a philharmonic hall
Glass and wood of Czech origin are incorporated throughout the building, including its facade. (Mozses/Courtesy of BIG)

As stated in a statement, “the ambition of the Vltava Philharmonic Hall is to attract not only classical music fans, but also the general public”. Although live music is an obvious draw for residents and visitors to Prague, the waterfront complex itself promises to be a major new attraction for the city, luring visitors to the site with a “series of large public squares will become a new symbol of inclusive architecture, welcoming the multitude of Prague’s bustling city life to walk through, through, under and above the new concert hall,” BIG explained.

Most notably, the stacked and overlapping roofs of the glazed building extend down to ground level at several points, connecting the large public plaza at the foot of the building to the stepped structure itself, inviting visitors to climb and explore. the building without ever having to enter it.

“The undulating staircase shape of the roofs allows visitors to meander to the top of the building, as if climbing a hill,” BIG explained. “Slender vertical colonnades support the building’s roof terraces while warm Bohemian forest wood undersides provide shade and shelter. A space to sit and gather, spaces for informal outdoor performances and interior views of the lively musical environment of the Philharmonie.

The Vltava Philharmonic Hall will house three separate halls, including the 1,800-seat Main Concert Hall. (Mozses/Courtesy of BIG)

Besides domestically sourced wood, glass produced in the Czech Republic will also play a key role in the construction of the building.

The Vltava Philharmonic Hall marks the first ongoing project for BIG in Prague or the Czech Republic and, as Ingels noted, it is one with special significance:

“From a personal point of view, this project is perhaps one of the most important for me as an architect and as a Dane. Architect Jørn Utzon is a national hero in Denmark, less for the work he was able to do at home, but more for his work on the Sydney Opera House on the other side of the planet. He showed the world how modern architecture could embody forms and revive traditions that had long been superseded by the international style of modern boxes – and in doing so he captured the identity of a continent and the imagination of the world. For Prague, we tried to imagine a building inspired by the course of its namesake river and informed by the three-dimensional complexity of its very urban site. The result is a three-dimensional public space – part musical instrument, part logistics machine, part topography, part sculpture. I sincerely hope that this project can develop into a space appreciated by the citizens of the Czech Republic and a welcome addition to the iconic skyline of the city of Prague.

The complex is planned for the left bank of the Vltava River. (Courtesy of BIG)
Public access to the project extends from the waterfront to the rooftop. (Courtesy of BIG)

For visitors to Prague who want to explore Holešovice and Prague’s newest cultural attraction in the near future, don’t hold your breath… construction of the Vltava Philharmonic Hall is not expected to start until 2027 and work is expected to be completed in 2032. that the project is far from open, Holešovice, a former industrial area now filled with galleries and cafes and ranking among the coolest neighborhoods in Europestill well worth the detour.

The estimated project cost for the Vltava Philharmonic Hall is approximately $251 million.

Berta D. Wells