The Nova Zbrojovka site (25 ha.) in Brno, Czech Republic, is gradually transforming from a brownfield into a vibrant urban mixed-use area.
Close to Brno city centre, this extensive site of the former Zbrojovka factory is embraced by the Svitava river and lies next to a train station.
The developer was aware that such a large-scale project needed to be solved comprehensively. It therefor commissioned us as landscape architects to develop a Masterplan for the Public Space integrating the building program, the infrastructure and connecting it to the existing context; creating an urban fabric with the Avenue as backbone, a fine grid of streets and promenades, squares and parks as nodes, orientated towards public transport (making use of the adjacent train station), sustainable and enjoyable water management, in the landscape integrated anti-flood measures and enriched with civic amenities, such as schools and kindergartens. The Masterplan focusses on the combination of all these aspects and elements to a highly sustainable and liveable environment.
The river and the impressive industrial heritage inspired the Masterplan. Several majestic buildings and structures (chimneys) have been kept. These buildings function as landmarks and anchor points. They will have public functions and play a role as activators within the development.
The now canal like banks of the river are opened up into parkland, incorporating embankments, quays and buildings as flood defences.
Based on the line of the former mill race a new series of water features (the Urban Ponds) organizes the water management of the larger part of the area. It creates a focus for urban recreation and keeps traces of the past alive.
The fabric of public space is attractive and active for all ages. The concept focuses on an intricate network of green public spaces in which places are organised along long lines: River Park, Urban Ponds, and Avenue. The long lines are crossed by Community Nodes: meeting places that connect buildings of public importance, including the station and the school cluster. Complementing this fabric is an ecological zone along the railway; an extension of the line of mature trees and shrubs on the railway embankment making use of its relative isolation.
The River Park allows the river to flood, the Urban Ponds provide water play and rainwater storage, the Avenue is the main street characterised by the dynamics of urban facilities as schools, shops and offices, the community nodes are the main meeting places like the central square, neighbourhood market and urban arena. The focus is on liveability as overall quality.
Public space is in the first place the domain of pedestrians and cyclists. As Green City it focusses on climate adaptation, an active and healthy environment, heat stress resistance, and orientation on ecology.
As a first step towards this new urban quarter a temporary park is realised in the northern part of the site. There are various facilities for sports, play and events, such as markets and outdoor cinema. It is well programmed, in combination with indoor activities in the large industrial halls, and much enjoyed by the people of Brno. It opens up the former closed enclave, and thus blind spot on the map, and brings it alive in the urban life.
The plan is empathetic towards the context, both the landscape (history and natural conditions) and the people (use and meaning). The focus on the core qualities of the area resulted in a ‘start image planning’: a bandwidth of development potentials as a starting point for design development.
Architecture offices involved in the design: Kuba & Pilař architects
Location: Baarovo nábř. 903, 614 00 Brno-Maloměřice a Obřany, Czech Republic
Design year: 2021-2022
Year Completed: temporary park 2021, realization from 2024 onwards