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Brownfield Site: Forum Karlín, Prague

My 2010 proposal to renovate rather than demolish the old ČKD hall on this brownfield site:


During the period 2000-2010, Prague's contemporary art scene advocated the use of the existing industrial built environment in an effort to match the international art scene. The use of non-traditional spaces for cultural activities is not new in the world. In Czech conditions, this trend has also been developing successfully in recent years. On the cultural map of the Czech republic, places like La Fabrika in Prague Holešovice were added, the Prague Biennale settled in the former ČKD hall in Karlín, the same location is operated by Karlín Studios and the same owner runs the progressive Futura gallery in Smíchov, a firm place in the street art subculture, Trafačka. Prague Meet Factory was added to the new points on the Prague cultural map and the expected DOX gallery in Holešovice by architect Ivan Kroupa.


Some of these buildings have in the years after 1990 been purchased by individual private owners.

So the ČKD hall in Karlín became the property of Zdeněk Bakala, one of the new Czech oligarchs. His friend and advisor Bessel Kok, sponsor of different art disciplines in the Benelux, approached me with the request to imagine a profitable redevelopment program for the whole post-industrial complex of the ČKD hall site in Karlín. Bakala's original intention was to demolish the existing buildings and build something new. Against the prevailing opinion and Bakala and Kok's original position, I urged them not to demolish the hall. Instead I proposed that they renovate and reuse this existing industrial heritage, transform it into offices, for a.o. the editing house Economia (the publisher of a.o. Hospodářské Noviny and Respekt) also owned by Bakala, and add in a number of newly built architectural volumes of mixed use urban functions as for example a convention & event hall, retail and restaurants.

To elaborate the feasibility of the proposal, I formed a team of real estate professionals composed of Aleš Marek (AED) and Kamila Koštovalová. I proposed the economically feasible and financially profitable development program in volumes and m2 and verified its profitability in global financial yield and profit calculations. This programmatic concept made the reuse and recycle of the existing industrial heritage financially feasible by guaranteeing the required return on investment and a potential value growth in time. Marek calculated the building costs. Koštovalová elaborated the precise financial spreadsheet calculations. In the summer of 2010, I presented this development plan proposal to Bessel Kok. Kok and Bakala had the courage not only to approve this plan proposal, but also to build it. The project was realised in the following years by the design architect Ricardo Bofill and a number of local architects, under the development responsibility of the Karlín Group of Serge Borenstein.

Today Forum Karlín is one of the most successful events, cultural, and convention venues in Prague. 

Location: Pernerova 51, 186 00 Praha 8-Karlín

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