During a press conference on Monday the 1st of August, Charles University introduced the layout for the new research and educational centre in Albertov, Prague 2. The layout for this new campus building was decided through a challenging competition that was won by the studio Znamení čtyř – architekti (The Sign of Four – Architects). The second prize was awarded to the studio Atelier M1 architekti (Atelier M1 Architects). The jury decided not to award a third prize. The two research and education centres Biocentrum and Globcentrum should be open to the scientists and students of Charles University in 2022. The construction is estimated to cost around 2.5 billion Czech crowns and will be financed out of the state budget. The building is set to be a joint workplace for the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Faculty of Science and First Faculty of Medicine.
The jury’s comments highlighted the general urban concept of the pitch as well as the character of the entranceway, open atrium and the general embellishment of the winning pitch. “The winning concept was chosen through a long discussion leading to the consensus of the whole jury,“ said Rector of Charles University, Professor Tomáš Zima, continuing: “The jury prioritised the fact that the appearance of the new science centre should suitably complement the historical nature of this area of Prague 2, so that the genius loci was maintained and a unique space was created for future scientists and students.”
The winning architects highlighted in their proposal that: “in the case of Albertov the role of the architect is to not solely complete two buildings, but to embrace and fully utilise their role in reviving the complex as a space for the meeting of people and ideas.” The architecture studio was founded in the year 1990 by architects Juraj Matula, Richard Sidej and Martin Tycar, all three being graduates of the Faculty of Architecture from the Czech Technical University. The studio has released and completed numerous projects in which the architects had the pay particular focus to the unification of current architecture with the cities’ historical structures. A few examples of this process are the reconstruction and completion of the Synagogue in Smíchov, Prague 5, and the historical rehabilitation and reconstruction for administrative purposes of one of the Malá Strana (Lesser Town) palaces in Letenská Street.
190 groups registered for the competition, out of which 33 handed in proposals for the first round. Spread amongst the participants were teams from the Netherlands, Spain and Slovenia. “In both selection rounds more than 250 architects, engineers and other experts worked on the proposals. We calculated that together they invested about 160 000 hours of work,” describes Karin Grohmannová, who was involved in the re-examining of the competing projects.
11 jury members judged the proposals. In both selection rounds they invited experts on laboratory operation, technology and budgeting to assess the technical parameters of the proposals. The jury members were a mix of members of Charles University and independent members. Those from Charles University included the Rector of Charles University Professor Tomáš Zima who was also head of the committee; Ing. Jiřina Kurzová, who was authorised by the directory of the Development Department of Charles University; Ing. arch. Jan Sedlák, architect and urbanist; Prof. Jan Konvalinka, Vice-Rector for Scientific and Creative Activity and Ing. Miroslav Dvořák, the manager of the project ‘Campus Albertov’. The independent jury members included Ing. arch. Josef Pleskot, architect and deputy chairman of the jury; Professor Ladislav Lábus, architect and Dean of the Faculty of Architecture of the Czech Technical University; as well as Ing. Ladislav Bukovský and architects Ing. arch. Dalibor Hlaváček, Ing. arch. MgA. Michal Fišer and Ing. arch. Pavel Hnilička.