1.         Historic Centre of Prague (Czechia) (C 616bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1992

Criteria  (ii)(iv)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/616/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2003-2003)
Total amount approved: USD 40,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/616/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/616/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2007

Following the numerous letters received from local NGOs since June 2005 concerning projects potentially impacting the visual integrity of the property, the World Heritage Centre received the State Party’s state conservation report in September 2005, as well as information regarding a project for new buildings in the Pankrac Plain in June 2006. The main information received is as follows:

a) The southern horizon (Pankrac Plain) of the Prague panorama remains essentially unchanged since the inscription of the property on the World Heritage List in 1992. The skyline already featured tower blocks (the Motokov-Empiria building of 104 meters high built in 1977, the Corinthia Towers of 83 meters high built in 1988, Radio building of 108 meters built in the late 1980s). The National Institute for the Protection and Conservation of Cultural Heritage succeeded in halting or reducing some high-rise building projects (e.g. Richard Mayer Studio’s 160m building project). The Municipal Assembly of Prague approved the draft regulation plan for the core area of the Pankrac Plain (referred to as Pentagon area) according to which the height level must not exceed 104 metres. So far, only a construction project for two high-rise buildings was approuved in 2005. The proposed design of two towers interconnected to form a symbolic “V” represents an architectural expression that differs from the existing buildings.

b) The development of the Masaryk Railway Station registered in the Central List of Immovable Cultural Monuments is linked to the reconstruction of the Prague railway junction.

c) All works concerning the construction of underground parking lots are carried out under the supervision of the department of the National Heritage Institute and are preceded by a large-scale archaeological survey.

d) The Commission of the City of Prague Council for Monuments was established under the Prague City Hall’s Department of Heritage Care, whose task is to evaluate and monitor the projects within the boundaries of the property.

e) The Prague City Hall also established an independent Consultative Board of experts to enhance transparency of the evaluation and approval of the construction projects. Numerous activities, such as the distribution of financial grants for reconstruction projects, digital registration and inventory of protected heritage, information and opinion surveys of the local community, were implemented.

The State Party underlined that construction projects for any new buildings in the sensitive area of the Pankrac Plain and other visually related places will always take into account the importance of preserving the value of this property. The authorities noted that on the opposite side of the Vltava River the visual integrity is maintained. Following the information received from the Czech National Committee of ICOMOS concerning the development of the Pankrac Plain, in December 2006, the World Heritage Centre requested the State Party to submit an updated report on the state of conservation of this property. Moreover, in a letter dated 23 January 2007, the World Heritage Centre was informed that the City of Prague has asked for a mission to be sent to the site.

On 10 May 2007, the State Party submitted to the World Heritage Centre a report on the state of conservation of the Historic Centre of Prague describing the development of the urban project in the Pankrac Plain, as well as a report on the construction project of two towers. This report specifies that the construction project of the two towers complies with the land-use plan already enforced at the time of the inscription of the site on the World Heritage List. It also confirms that the two towers are located in the buffer zone of the property.

In April 2007, a conference was organized by the City of Prague, with the participation of representatives of ICOMOS. Subsequently, the Chair of ICOMOS sent on 3 May 2007 a letter to the Mayor of Prague recommending stopping all construction projects in the Pankrac Plain. ICOMOS was also informed that another construction project of high-rise buildings in the distric of Holesovice, which is located in the buffer zone, was under consideration.

The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS expressed their serious concern regarding the two proposed high-rise buildings planned to be added to the skyline of existing buildings constructed before the inscription of the Historic City of Prague on the World Heritage List. The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS noted that these projects were approved by the National Institute for the Protection and Conservation of Cultural Heritage without any involvement from the international and local community. A visual impact study of the Historic Centre of Prague needs to be developed as a matter of urgency. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

N/A

Decision Adopted: 31 COM 7B.94

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-07/31.COM/7B.Add,

2. Expresses its serious concern about the proposed high-rise building projects within the buffer zone which potentially could impact on the visual integrity of the Historic Centre of Prague;

3. Requests the State Party to reconsider current building projects as to their impacts on the World Heritage property’s Outstanding Universal Value, and also requests that any new construction projects respect the Outstanding Universal Value and important views to and from the property.

4. Recommends the State Party to conduct comparative studies in terms of sustainable management of historic towns in cooperation with the relevant Scientific Committees of the Advisory Bodies;

5. Further requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to assess the state of conservation of the property;

6.  Also requests the State Party to provide the World Heritage Centre with a detailed report by 1 February 2008, on the state of conservation of the property, including the visual impact study and describing any steps undertaken in view of high-rise development for examination by the Committee at its 32nd session in 2008.