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Prague is transforming old ice vaults into spaces for bars and restaurants

Massive portholes are lighting up the Czech capital’s neglected waterfront

Huw Oliver
Written by
Huw Oliver

With its huge, gleaming portholes overlooking the Vltava River, central Prague now sort of resembles a massive cruise liner. And a very, very glamorous one at that.

As part of huge regeneration project of the riverfront area, more than 20 former ice vaults along the Czech capital’s major waterway have been transformed into spaces for bars, restaurants, galleries and workshops.

Others will house a library and a community meeting room. And good news if you’re ever desperate to, y’know, go while in the centre of town: one vault will even host some incredibly stylish public toilets.

The €6.5 million (£5.9 million, $7.2million or A$10.6 million) development by Petr Janda of Brainwork architects has been in the works since 2009 and forms part of a wider scheme to redevelop the long-neglected waterfront.

Transformed ice vaults in PraguePhotograph: BoysPlayNice

This first phase – which has involved revitalising a huge four-kilometre stretch of former shipyards along the river – is Prague’s largest investment in public space since 1989.

The area surrounding these ice vaults has been pretty much deserted following severe floods in 2002. It was later used as a parking lot and, since renovation started, has played host to an increasing number of big-hitting cultural events.

The vaults’ new tenants were selected by a jury following a competition that was open to the public, though many were already running businesses in the riverfront area.

We think there’s something really quite alluring about these eyes that now gaze out over the river. How’s that for a new perspective on one of Europe’s most historic capitals?

A transformed ice vault in PraguePhotograph: BoysPlayNice

ICYMI: Rotterdam is getting a huge floating chicken farm, a ‘Willy Wonka-style’ chocolate factory is being built in Amsterdam, and a former submarine base in France has been transformed into the world’s largest digital art space.

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