Ostrava Emphasises Investment and Highlights the Quality of Public Space Ostrava has demonstrated an interest in construction and development, is organizing a great number of architectural competitions, has recently opened the app MAPPA, and started the “war against advertising smog” in the city. How are all of the aforementioned interconnected, and can the city relate its investment development to an emphasis on high-quality architecture and public space? We are presenting you an interview with Mgr. Zuzana Bajgarová, Deputy Mayor of the City of Ostrava. What makes Ostrava attractive in the sense of its potential development? Ostrava is a polycentric city, and its centres, the historical city centre, Poruba, and Ostrava–South, each have significant features which allow them to prosper regardless of the broader environment. Our common task is to connect them and make the distance of conveniences shorter in their existing physical locations as well as by building new ones and reducing travel time. These centres, especially the historical centre, have some vacant lots representing lucrative investment opportunities. The period when construction in great parts of the city was halted in the general plan and massive changes in industrial job opportunities after many important plants closed down is over and now there is the time and space to finish the plan of the inner city. The inner city offers opportunities which other cities do not have, so unlike Ostrava they can only grow from the outskirts. Much has been said about how inappropriate it is to build on green fields, concerning not only environmental destruction but also the difficult city administration. Extensions of the city, transport and technical infrastructures are not sustainable in low density quarters. Moreover, vacant lots inside the city produce unattractive places with a high maintenance profile, often giving the impression of a poor, unkempt location even though they typically are lucrative lots suitable for housing or enterprise. I do not claim they are as construction-friendly as green fields, but they undoubtedly offer a unique opportunity and advantage both to the city and the investors. Ostrava decided a few years back to confront this challenge, therefore a range of projects are already under way which will make use of vacant lots. The MAPPA application should be a great help. What exactly does MAPPA stand for, why was it created, and how will it change the public space in the city? MAPPA stands for Městský Ateliér Prostorového Plánování a Architektury (Urban Studio of Space Planning and Architecture). Its aim is to work on development and urban planning projects, interconnect the city, cultivate public space, and enhance the quality of life in Ostrava. We need to get the MAPPA studio well-established and quickly become an integral part of city development. The architect Ondřej Vysloužil has been its CEO since October 1, 2019, and we hope that within a year and half his team will have about fifteen members. 48 ǀ POSITIV 4/2019
It is a conceptual job which requires a birds-eye view of the city, searching for added values which will move Ostrava a few levels up. That will not happen within a year or two; it will take years of a creative and open-minded work way above the norms of usual state administration. MAPPA also connects the administration and citizens of Ostrava. One of its aims is to develop a partnership with the public and get people engaged in the projects. We expect MAPPA studio to play a crucial role when driving the city towards high-quality architecture and urban planning, and city projects to become interconnected. MAPPA can change public space, make it comfortable and attractive for residents in their daily routines and convince them to stay in the city. Ostrava can follow the trend of city life set by western metropolises where people spend a lot of time in parks and city squares because they find them enjoyable. One particular project I want to mention, avery important task for the MAPPA urban-planning studio, is the conceptual revitalization of 28. října and Opavská streets, as these roads feel more like barriers separating city parts. We want the barrier to dissolve an recreate these major traffic connections with the qualities of city boulevards. It means introducing better conditions for pedestrians, cyclists, passengers on public transport, and enhancing the neighbouring public space. In a few years, all the streets will be lined with new buildings--the new concert hall at the renovated Ostrava City House of Culture (Dům kultury města Ostravy), Black Cube (Černá kostka) and the car-park block near the House of Culture. We will create a newly distinguished area of the city. Another task for MAPPA is the connection of the historical city centre to the Lower Area of Vítkovice (DOV). What can the new institution bring to investors and local businesses? MAPPA is designed to be a partner connecting the interests and visions of the city (the birds-eye view, potential development) with the interests of investors, targets of particular projects. Investors are crucial partners in any city’s development, and high-quality architecture has long-term synergy with investment developments and living standards in a city. The same applies to local enterprise. What counts is cooperation and mutual support. Investors can expect support and cooperation both from the city and from MAPPA, protecting the interests of Ostrava and its citizens. Partnership.