Prague-Smíchov masterplan

  • Prague, Czech Republic
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The line of contemplation


There are places you have to turn back and look at. Cities you need to discover suddenly to be blown away by them and then be able to stay there contemplating them. The better to engrave them on your memory. There are landscapes you wish you could open your window on every morning…


This all happens at specific points of the kind filmmakers are particularly fond of, when at a bend in the road, the hero discovers the city of his exploits; when the general with his spyglass observes the siege of a city; or when, the moment ‘The End’ comes up on the screen, the exile casts one last glance at the city of his childhood…


Relief determines such spots and topographical surveys allow us to list them precisely.


Prague, even more than Rome, is surrounded by hills and plateaus. Crest lines, slope fracture lines are easy to detect, and any structure erected, at precisely this spot, is privileged. Any resident opening their window right here feels like the lord or lady of the manor.


I propose to build these lines, all the lines that embody the point of discovery of the city so that they end up forming a single – dotted – line of contemplation that follows the twists and turns of the relief.


This built line is part of the earth and the sky it often leads to; it’s part of the stone and greenery it skirts round or runs through, and of the centre it evokes and the periphery it verges on.


It will have the force and the stillness of a horizontal line. Like inverted fortifications, it will crown the importance of the – encircled, protected – city. Prague will be completed by this linear observatory. From here it will stretch out, immobile. The different districts will be readable, along with all the edifices, all the church steeples, all the city’s squares. As clearly as on a scale model. Within a feeling of eternity.



Jean Nouvel