Holocaust memorial at Prague 7
The plot, also called Holešovice Triangle, is wedged between the streets of Veletržni and Strojnicka in Prague 7. This place has a tragic history: it was an assembly point for Jewish people before they were transported to concentration camps during the war. Between October 16, 1941, and March 16, 1945, a total of 44,688 men, women, and children were deported from Prague. On January 29, 2002, Prague 7 signed a lease contract on the plot with the SEN development company. The mayor at that time was Tomaš Dub. The plan included the construction of a shopping center and a new seat for the Prague 7 district city hall. Within the long-term 75-year lease of the plot, the city obliged the leaseholder-developer to construct a publicly accessible Holocaust Memorial Room on the premises. A quotation from the obligatory supplement of the lease:
”The memorial will be reverently situated in a central location in an visually prominent position. It is assumed that the design of this respectful memorial will be the result of an international artistic competition that will be organized by the investor for this purpose. For the final design of the memorial, both Czech and foreign artists will be invited. The concept of the memorial will be coordinated by five representatives of the Czech political and cultural spheres.”
In 2006, I was asked by a representative of the developer to design the area of the memorial. The assignment related to the contract supplement was less than 80 m2 of utilized area out of a 9,928 m2 plot. The condition remained obligatory, even during the subsequent contract transfers between other development companies, as well as for the current leaseholder, Holešovicky trojuhelnik company, a member of the Lordship Group. On March 8, 2006, a land use permit was issued for the construction of the “Letna Triangle Multi-Purpose Object”. The construction includes a multifunctional object with underground garages. It no longer features the public space designed to be used by the Prague 7 City Hall. On August 27, 2008, a construction permit was issued for a part of the building called “Stromovka Gallery—1st phase—fixation of the construction pit and underground parking, including water and sewage connections”. Since the whole process of preparing what is now a completely commercial project for a shopping- -administrative center of arguable size, off ering approximately 30,000 m2 of office and retail space and 500 parking lots, on the plot owned and administered by the Prague 7 district, went on without any public involvement, its delayed publicity was and is accompanied by numerous protests of residents. The latest news from Prague 7, now represented by Mayor Marek Ječmenek, indicates the serious consideration of selling the public plot once and for all into private hands. No competition whatsoever or public discussion about the suitability of the location and the possible design of the Holocaust Memorial Room within the object of the considered shopping center has yet taken place. Moreover, most of the involved public are completely unaware of the above-mentioned obligatory condition.