How does the use of space change in time?
How does collective memory appear in an urban context?
These are the main issues that this project explores. During the last centuries, several layers (historical, memorial, architectural, etc...) were added on Lesser Town Square, which were seemingly erased when the place became a huge parking lot.
In fact, on the one hand, the latest state of the square represents an era that was dedicated to infrastructural development, therefore the urban structure was significantly transformed, and, on the other hand, this resulted the appearance of absence, the absence of everything used to exist in this very location, which seriously changed the use of space inherited from the past centuries.
This project considers this absence as a key factor in the reconstruction design. Another key factor is the focus on how people want to use urban spaces today. Understanding the critics of the last decades' aggressive infrastructural developments, people tend to return needing human scale urban environments. In order to achive that, we need a paradigm change in traffic design and must redefine our needs to have good cities for walking.
We propose a two-phase human-focused traffic reorganization process. In the first phase we have already taken into consideration the completion of Blanka Tunel and its positive effects on traffic reduction in Lesser Town. The now existing system of one-way roads is kept in place in this phase, although the lane sections are brought down to a minimum width, so that the pedestrians can gradually regain the edges of the Lesser Town Square. The number of car parking spaces in the square is reduced to 86.
The most significant changes are accomplished in the second phase, when the square is turned to an urban space designed for pedestrians. The most important change is the erasure of all barriers as much as possible, so that pavements, car lanes disappear and the square could become a vast urban surface with mixed traffic use on it. In order to achive that, a Limited Traffic Zone has to be implemented between Újezd and Karlov, where just those who has a special entry permit can access the area by car. The already well-functioning public transport system will serve the rest of the people (transit traffic is already exluded by Blanka Tunel). In this second phase, a parking infrastructure for those who cannot enter the area is needed between Hradcanska and Karlov and between Andél and Újezd, which could also be connected to the existing P+R, P+K spots, and where people can change to public transport. A maximum number of 46 parking spaces is kept in the Lesser Town Square.
Having this barrierless urban surface enables us to emphasize the aesthatic and stylistic diversity of the surrounding architecture. Our proposed homogeneous carpet-like urban surface firstly acts as a fifth facade of the square, secondly highlights the heterogeneity of the exposed past layers of the square and, thridly, provides slight orientations on the square by the design of the dilation lines of the basalt concrete structure.
The concrete surface made with basalt aggregate is a material which redefines the use of the dominant basalt cubes in all over Prague city and enables to use the urban space according to today's pedestrian needs in regard to age, used equipments and accessibility. By having the topography of this new surface create tectonic movements by its vertex points, all the furnitures in the square create one entity with the surface, they are originated from.
The exposition of the "absence" in the square requires a democratic historical approach, which allows us to contemplate the whole diversity of the past layers of the Lesser Town Square. Using this objective mode of expression (fracturing the basalt concrete surface by different methods, so that the aggregate grains become visible) invites us to actively recollect our existent and non-existent memories.