The Memorial Museum of Jewish Culture in Prague. An Example of Urban Regeneration
Keywords:city and water, city centre regeneration, history, cultural heritage, Prague, urban regeneration, urban rehabilitation
AbstractThe theme of this paper regards the results of the main research activities carried out in the Architectural Design Laboratory. The last years of the Laboratory were dedicated to set up a research on a specific case study. The project site is the Old Town of Prague, the ancient Jewish Quarter called Josefov Ghetto with the cemetery and the synagogues and Klášter sv. Anežky České (the Convent with cloister and Church of St. Agnes of Bohemia). The project was supported by a series of analysis and investigation of cartographic, iconographic, and bibliography materials, which allowed us to investigate aspects regarding the urban history, the city and the particular context of application. This exploration about the context is compared to the potential of the place, the physical characteristics, the settlement structure's and the aesthetic characters. The analysis was related by different phases. The first phase involved a site inspection of the area for observing the main architectural buildings. This work was necessary for surveying properly the site and for investigating the current situation of the area. A second step was reserved for processing drawings, maps and three-dimensional models, which allowed us to reconstruct the context and the existing buildings. Finally, this process involved the architectural definition of the project, which integrated strategic choices of new settlement with the structural analysis and technological aspects. In any case the proposed design theme – the exhibition space – is an opportunity to consider this area in a more general reorganization and consolidation of the cultural town-centre. The project structure will take in consideration two important aspects: the relationship between the existing architectures and the water front and the strong characterization of the place, included between the oldest settlement of the city and the fortifications built in medieval times (Bromley et al. 2005). To exemplify this approach to the theme of the proposed project, it is necessary to look at the analysis of some projects. These projects have developed in different ways the issues proposed by the place, chosen as project area. These issues can be summarized as follows: the relationship with the Vltava river and its overlooking; the relationship with the existing convent and integration to the museum system of St. Agnes; the relationship with the characteristics of the site and its various urban settings; the architecture of the connections and the definition of the pathways. The importance of this method is to consider the practice of composition as a slow and careful approach, starting from the place where it takes shape, through a continuous progression to find the appropriate features of the architectural space. The space is perceived as a sensitive experience, able to stimulate the meaning and the essence of the architectural experiences. The architectural project, in this sense, becomes an important object of knowledge, and a real creative act. Our research attempts to set-up a procedure that has as main objective an experimental method to design, according to the resources of local context and focused on urban regeneration (Roberts 2000). An architectural project is a physical fact within the City, because it has a structure that makes it different from the other artistic practices (e.g. painting, sculpture, cinema, music and so on) and its responsibility is rather significant, because the project realized usually affects space and context in different way: through the physical impact; through the figurative impression; through the space suggestion.