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The Origin of Jižní Město

Háje na leteckém pohledu, author: PhDr. Jiří Bartoň
Looking back at the historical plans and the origins of Jižní Město as such

The Prague 11 Metropolitan District was established in November 1990 at that time under the name Prague – Jižní Město (South City). Today’s name has been used since 1994. Only two decades before the establishment of the Metropolitan District there were two municipalities – Chodov and Háje and their districts – cadastral areas. Prior to 1971, Jižní Město was simply a working name, at first known only to a small group of people working on a construction project of a large housing complex in the southern part of the then Prague 4. In the 1960s, the authorities looked for suitable urban development areas within the Prague agglomeration. The master plan of 1964 identified the cadastral areas of Chodov and Háje as the most suitable ones. The proposed urban development area was suitable for easy distribution of electricity and gas, as well as water supply, as even at that time the necessity to build a water duct from the Želivka water reservoir through this region was obvious. The plan was also supported by the vicinity of the intended motorway providing for connection to the city centre and an easy way out of town. At that time, the area was on the outskirts but amidst a distinct landscape. Terrain remodelling and the presence of distinct natural elements enabled the creation of a green belt around the entire future municipality.

We can say that the above-mentioned qualities really form the merits of the current urban development, inhabited by some 80 thousand people. However, many years have passed filled with searching, trying but also restricting the opportunities to solve the difficult task of such an extensive urban development.

In 1966 there was a public tender for the conception of the whole of Jižní Město. There were many approaches with many interesting ideas. The winning concept by J. Krásný, V. Musil, K. Ondroušek and V. Skokan, awarded the second price, proposed a city complex with a significant extent of independence on Prague. It was appreciated mainly for its integration into the landscape and the organisation of functional areas. The proposal counted on a centre created by three complexes in the highest areas of the undulated landscape and a park in its gravity centre to emphasise the character of a garden suburb. The authors of several award-winning proposals were invited to participate in a limited tender in which two second prizes and one third prize were awarded in 1967. Development of two comparison studies followed, creating the urban basis for the final solution presented by Atelier 9 in cooperation with docent J. Krásný.

The detailed urban plan of Jižní Město was developed by a collective of authors: Jan Krásný, Jiří Lasovský and Miroslav Řihošek, with the authorial cooperation of J. Zelený, J. Záruba, V. Rothbauerová, K. Poličanský, J. Kaufman, E. Hlaváček and Z. Burianová. Approved by the end of 1968, the plan was based on the original winning proposal and made use of the natural conditions in order to create an independent municipality with working and leisure areas located in close proximity. The dominant feature was the contact of nature and housing areas. To the east of the motorway, at that time already under construction, three housing districts were planned, the complexes Háje, Opatov and Litochleby, each intended for 16.5 to 19.5 thousands of inhabitants. Another district – Chodov – was originally intended as a complementary one. The older and newer construction was supposed to blend while maintaining lower height of the buildings. The planned centre was located around the Opatov station, touching on three areas, especially Háje, from an urban standpoint the most attractive area. Concentration of generally needed buildings was supposed to link to a park in the eastern direction, while the second axis of greenery pointed north where it attached to a wooded park, above the Hostivař dam basin, and, in the other direction, lead from the centre south to the Milíčov forest.

Many changes and modifications were yet to follow. Especially, the number of proposed flats and, consequently, future inhabitants, kept growing. The solution of the housing district was supported by detailed territorial documentation in the next few years. The main architect of the city became Jiří Lasovský, while the main designers of the Jižní Město I blocks of flats were Aleš Bořkovec and Vladimír Ježek in Háje, Jaroslav Vlašánek and Eva Kunová in Opatov, Bohumil Kříž, with the cooperation of J. Hyliš in Litochleby, Karel Prager in Chodov, and Jiří Lasovský and Jaroslav Krč in the planned center. Around 2,000 units for 73,400 to 80,000 inhabitants were designed on the area of 1,200 hectares.

Meanwhile, the region was experiencing significant changes. Chodov and Háje still felt independent from Prague when work on the D 1 highway commenced. The pre-design and design preparation of the first section from Spořilov and around Chodov was in progress between 1961 and 1967. In 1996, the Vojenské stavby company commenced work in the western section of the Chodov cadastre. Dorms, a cafeteria and offices were built between Spořilov and Chodov, and dirt was scraped across the width of the future highway. Many Chodov residents eyed with resentment the heavy machinery and trucks that began dominating the roads in the village. The corner stone of the highway was placed during a ceremony on 8 September, 1967. The construction work on the section between Prague and Čestlice then started in full in the fall.

In 1965, the first phase of construction of a water supply line from Želivka began far away from Prague. Soon, a 51 kilometres long tunnel was being cut to bring clean water from the treatment plant in Nesměřice to Jesenice. Meanwhile, there already were two lines leading from the water tank in Jesenice, one going north-west to Libuš, Novodvorská, and further, the second one going to Chodov, to Kozinec by Hostivař and further. Thirty years ago, on 2 April, 1967, dredgers and bulldozers started digging trenches for three parallel lines in the Chodov cadastre. The water was supposed to be moving via gravity feed, which is why everything that was in the way of the best route had to go.

Water tanks were being built on the Chodová hill and on Kozinec in Měcholupy. The Chodov tower was built with the capacity of twenty thousand cubic meters and a pumping station was built next to it. The pumping station was finished in 1970 and the first phase of the water supply line construction was completed in the following year. The leading feed to which both of the water tanks are connected, is identified as Jesenice – Ládví. The entire new system of distribution of the Želivka water creates a ring around the densely built-up part of Prague of an overall length of almost 70 km.

The first soil modifications directly related to the widespread housing units construction that followed were done by geologists. In March of 1967 a trailer was parked in Chodov. It housed a group of three geologists of the Design Institute of Dopravní a inženýrské stavby Praha (Prague Transportation and Engineering Construction). They drilled, and, more frequently, dug probes in the cadastre and directly in the streets of Chodov. They were analyzing the composition of soil for the future construction. According to eye witnesses, 120 holes were dug, each two by one and a half metres and up to six metres deep.

Chodov and Háje residents soon no longer distinguished between the individual buildings desperately needed to solve the long-neglected needs of the entire Prague agglomeration. Everything was included under the umbrella of the Jižní Město construction. Young people were naturally curious about what the changes would bring. To most of the older people the changes brought uncertainty and scepticism. On 1 January, 1968, Chodov and Háje were annexed by Prague. After that, the sad era of demolition followed.

On 1 September, 1971, heavy machinery started in the direction of the future Jižní Město to work on the terrain. This is how the "laying of the corner stone” of the new agglomeration was done. In 1971 to 1973, the first sections of engineering networks were built, along communication connections and the first blocks of flats of the Eastern part of Jižní Město I. The first housing complex, named after the Háje village, was constructed since 1973. Its centre, located next to a metro station and above the Hostivař recreation area, was of higher social significance since the start. First inhabitants moved into the new Háje in 1976. After that, the Háje and Chodov cadastres quickly filled up with new, light grey panel buildings.

After the ups and downs of more competitions, detailed planning and many negotiations, a large area of blocks of flats with predominantly panel buildings grew on only 9.8 km2 (approx. 1/50 of Prague, the entire city has 496.1 km2). Approximately 1/13 of Prague's inhabitants now live in Prague 11. If an area with such numbers of inhabitants was independent, it would be a rather large city. Jižní Město is, of course, one of the parts of Prague’s residential areas agglomeration. Despite of that, it still needs many things.

See also: J. Bartoň et al., Book on Prague 11

21.11.2005 18:01:58 - updated 15.8.2011 8:22:59 | read 19190x | PhDr. Jiří Bartoň