“Housing Estates in V4, What’s Next?” is name of a comprehensive research project which takes place at the Faculty of Architecture CTU in Prague. The aim of the project is to describe basic problems of postwar housing estates in structural, economic and social perspective and to define basic possibilities and recommendations how to proceed their complex regeneration and set up long-term stability. The project is organized by Faculty of Architecture CTU in cooperation with Healthy Cities of the Czech Republic, Housing Quality Centre and Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Prague. Project is also supported by Visegrad Fund as it takes place in the Czech Republic this year and will continue in other Visegrad countries in following years.
In Central and Eastern Europe, postwar housing estates represent significant social phenomenon. In Czech Republic nearly 1/3 of population lives in housing estates, in Prague it is about 40%. Seeking answers to the prospective development of these areas represents one of the most important issues of spatial planning and urban management.
Specific spatial structure differs from traditional city in many aspects. Public space represents approximately 2/3 of the area and technical and transport infrastructure doesn´t follow the spatial logic of buildings. Character and identity of individual localities is represented by solitary structures instead of shared public spaces. This implies at least a need of specific approach and increased care for the public spaces from the side of public administration.
In last two decades post war housing estates transform gradually. Demographic structure changes (population aging) as well as social structure of inhabitants. In some regions postwar housing estates represent places with high concentration of social problems or even excluded localities. Even in “richer” regions, such as Prague, sociological surveys and real estate prices indicate the fact, that the more successful and richer part of the population is leaving this type of housing. However this change goes on so slowly and inconspicuously that residents and politicians don’t pay attention to it. As society we risk that we will miss the moment, when it is still possible to activate resources and realize qualitative changes of these areas.
What’s next? What should the long-term vision for these areas be? How should one approach them conceptually and how might one start the process of their gradual transformation into attractive parts of the urban fabric? How can one reduce the risks of future negative development?