A special train called Karolina Express (Os 31132) departed from the Ostrava General Railway Station at 10am. Bound for the future of Ostrava, the train took some journalists that had been invited to receive the very first information about the Nová Karolina. Entered in the competition announced by the City of Ostrava, this project was developed in co-operation between ECE Projektmanagement Praha s.r.o. and Passerinvest Group, a.s., with the aim of converting Karolina into a modern and bustling city district, where people can live, work, do shopping and relax.
Both the companies have been aiming to develop the Karolina site long: ECE has been working in collaboration with the City of Ostrava for five years. The competition project is also aimed to prepare a site for the planned construction of the Ostrava University campus and a comprehensive traffic system adapted to the adjacent developments.
The European market leader in the sector of development of unique shopping arcades, ECE is currently involved in management of over 80 shopping centres that the company have built in Europe and Qatar since 1965. Organising various cultural events and exhibitions, the company creates new centres of social life on their premises. Their “Vaňkovka”, Brno, has become synonymous with a fine business and community centre developed in harmony with the listed building in the heart of the city. Passerinvest Group is bringing a wealth of experience to the joint project, having an impressive track record in residential and office development. Their considerable expertise is based especially on the multi-purpose BB Centrum project, which has been under development in Prague 4 – Michle. Incidentally, when it comes to large and successful projects of this type in the CR, this 30-hectare scheme is in a class of its own. BB Centrum progressively transforms into a new bustling urban district, which serves a great number of urban purposes: office buildings are combined with apartment houses, shops, restaurants, sports facilities and parks with ample green areas and fountains.
ECE and Passerinvest form a very strong team with a proven track record and long-standing experience. Their alliance gives Ostrava reliable guarantees in terms of funding, fast construction and successful completion of the whole project.
Zbyněk Passer, Member of the Board of Directors of Passerinvest Group says: “We have already proved that we are able to bring our projects to a successful close and to take care of them on a long term basis. Instead of temporary effects, we endeavour to develop long-term co-operation with Ostrava which will be of benefit to both the parties involved.”
According to the partner companies, the costs associated with the Karolina project are estimated at CZK 12.5 billion.
The essential principles of the design are based on the ideas of multi-purpose use of the area, harmonious integration with the adjacent buildings, adaptation to the pattern and height of the blocks of buildings and suitable connection with the existing traffic system. Equally important, the site should be easily passed through and have ample green and relaxation areas.
The blocks of buildings situated in the north, in the vicinity of the bank of the river, serve many purposes, from housing and offices to small shops, or, alternatively, this part might facilitate possible expansion of the Ostrava University. The new developments have been arranged in a similar pattern to that of the old buildings with the emphasis on simplicity and transparency of the routes such as walkways leading to the centre. The cultural and relaxation park around the so-called Twin-Hall complex maintains the spirit of old industrial halls, sensitively incorporating contemporary features of the venue for social events. The plan envisages a square with a lookout tower to the west of the Twin-Hall and adjacent to the park along the Ostravice River. It is hoped that the shopping arcade located in the centre of the site will play a significant social role of historic marketplaces. It is situated between the pedestrian precinct/tram track and the main boulevard, which offers a view of the Twin-Hall from 28. října Street. The arcade will link the blocks of buildings, creating a shopping parade bathed in good natural light. What acts as an essential integrating element between the new developments and the old buildings is the square, where an impressive office tower – the future dominant feature of Karolina – is erected. We are planning to place a prominent artwork, the statue by a local artist, in the square. Furthermore, there will be relaxation areas, as well as a fountain. A group of office buildings, including shopping and services facilities, is envisaged in the western part of the site. Incidentally, the block pattern has been applied there too. Arranged along a wide pedestrian boulevard, each of the buildings has its own distinctive character owing to various fountains, green plants and gardens. There is a westbound footbridge to link Karolina with Ostrava-střed railway station/bus terminal and another two eastbound footbridges for the train/bus passengers heading for the city centre and the shopping arcade.
The system of individual and public transport reflects not only the current situation, but it also complies with the requirements of the area that can be expected in the future. We will build and improve walkways to connect the Karolina site with the existing centre, as well as the railway/bus terminal (the latter to be connected via a footbridge). Pedestrians will be guaranteed smooth and safe passage through the site as they can use grade-separated crossings to cross the main roads. We will build a connection between the existing Sokolská and Porážková streets along the Ostravice River to complete the inner ring road. Besides, we intend to open a trolleybus route which will be of benefit to the whole Karolina area. The overall concept envisages adequate parking facilities, with the majority of them situated underground.
The design includes rows of trees in the square, streets and pedestrian precinct, in addition to green areas in the interior yards between buildings and where the new development will be linked to the existing city. Even more importantly, there will be a bio-corridor along the Ostravice River leading to the Twin-Hall through a system of parks, gardens and playgrounds. With a number of bicycle paths, children’s playgrounds and relaxation areas, the bio-corridor will provide opportunities to relax, do sports and play with children away from the hustle and bustle of the city life.
The competition rules also apply to the area behind the railway siding. We suggest that independent entities should be developed there, those that are harmless to the mentioned green areas and bio-corridor. As a result, a brand new part of the city would be created. Ideally, it is envisaged that a university campus would be located on the “plateau” and bordered by the botany garden in the south. The campus should be self-contained, satisfying the staff and students’ demand for everything, from teaching to sports and housing.
At the close of the “on-train press conference”, Josef Tobek, Executive Director of ECE Projektmanagement Praha said: “We have been interested in Karolina longer than all the other developers and working on the project for the longest time too. We have produced comprehensive solutions to any problems in an endeavour to show a sense of reality with due consideration to Ostrava. We are sure that the people of Ostrava will accept our project with appreciation.”