The collaborative process of revitalizing Husuv Park in Prague
Čakovice is a small municipal district in the northeast of Prague, Czech Republic. The first mention of this village, with an area of only 1019 hectares, is in the 11e century. It has since accumulated a wealth of material and historical culture, evident in some of its most important buildings. Gothic and neo-Romanesque churches are converted to Baroque; a Čakovec-style fortress is converted into a castle; and the creation of a 19e candy of the century leads to an economic boom. Husuv Park stands in the middle of the village square of Čakovice.
The revitalization of Husuv Park (also called Jan Hus Park) is a collaborative exercise between Prague-based design studios – Land 05, SKULL Studio and XTOPIX. The site has its roots, literally, in the dry basin of a historic pond, which dried up around the middle of the 20e century, at the time of the First Czechoslovak Republic. The restructuring process also involved the decimation of the houses by the pond, leaving behind a silhouette of gabled roofs until 2020. The memory of the newly demolished pond and gables is immortalized in this revival project .
The three-pronged revitalization process includes not only reviving the
A statue of Czech philosopher and church reformer Jan Hus forms the focal point of the eponymous park. Behind the statue are seven rows of six apple trees each, symbolizing the flames that engulfed Hus when he was burned at the stake. Enclosed in a bamboo cage, this grid arrangement of trees and accompanying cages gives the appearance of a series of repetitive installations in the park.
A blackened brick walkway annotates the shape of the original pond, interspersed with boomerang-shaped concrete benches at walkway junctions. Benches and traditional lamps also line side walkways, with a patch of perennial flowerbeds. The seasonal variation presents a range of colors from spring to summer. In addition, streetlights are used to illuminate the treetops strewn throughout the park.
Towards the south, a central space is reserved for hosting small outdoor events, exhibitions, markets and shows. A series of wide steps to the west, together with the multipurpose area, create an amphitheater-like space. Beyond this amphitheater, to the south, extends the body of water leaning against the surrounding wall. The event zone itself acts as a threshold between the park and the water feature.
This piece of water, reminiscent of the old pond, is a metaphor for the water that serves to extinguish the symbolic flames that surround it. A peripheral wick brick pattern inscribed by a horizontally laid stretcher binding pattern raises the water feature by half a brick. Enclosed within this brick platform is the swimming pool – its periodically dropping water level reveals the message “Truth prevails”, etched into the black rim. The brick platform abuts the face of the brick perimeter wall behind it.
The linear wall, rhetorically called “Superpower Wall”, is somewhere between architecture and sculpture. The link of the English brick with alternating rows of crosspieces amplifies the linearity of the wall of this public space. The relief work on the wall takes its form from the outlines of ancient gabled roofs, reduced to a pattern of diagonal lines as a sculpture. Portions of the brick courtyards are strategically extruded to create silhouettes that attest to the presence of historical context. Matěj Hájek explains this concept: “It is a memory of what is no longer there, which nevertheless leaves its imprint on place and time.” But the Superpower Wall has another “superpower”, a titanium dioxide coating (a transparent nano-tech coating) that combines with UV rays to liquidate harmful substances. The photocatalytic properties of this coating thus purify the ambient air thanks to this process of liquidation.
The cumulative upgrade of Husuv Park is a cohesive celebration of the context in which it stands – natural, material and religious.
Last name: Husův Park
Location: Cakovice, Prague
Built-up area: 178m2
Landscape architect: Plot 05, Martina Forejtová
Superpower Wall: SKULL Studio, Matěj Hájek
Water feature: XTOPIX