Even functional infrastructure can be beautiful. Since 1579, the landscape that is home to the National Stud Farm has been continuously shaped for the breeding of Old Kladruby carriage horses. The complex covers a total area of 1,200 hectares and includes a truly varied mosaic of areas with different uses so that the horses can get to know the different environments (urbanised areas, alleys, fields, forests – but also an ingeniously composed landscape where open areas alternate with shaded ones) and know how to move safely in them.
The result of the landscaping we have designed is a restoration of the original character of the landscape, which evokes the atmosphere of traditional pastoral meadows from the Renaissance period.
However, the landscape is not only used for grazing, but primarily as an infrastructure for training carriage horses. An attractive part of the training is a ride with composed views, which were programmatically thought out and purposefully established in the second half of the 19th century.
The borrowed horizons with farm buildings, gatekeepers’ houses and church towers were heavily neglected after 1945 and overgrown with woody growth. Important compositional and operational links to the surrounding area disappeared and the landscape was blinded. As part of the project we rediscovered these links and proposed their restoration. After successful implementation, the landscape has regained its unique character, which is unparalleled in the world. The positive impact of the project was also one of the reasons the site was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2019.
The restoration of the 60-hectare site was prepared on the basis of an 18th-century map. This map shows solitary trees and small groups. On the 1938 aerial photograph, this original condition was still clearly discernible, and after overlaying these documents it was clear which restoration route to take.
The whole process was not easy. After 1973 the site was inappropriately used as a pheasantry. Spruce trees were artificially planted, which suppressed the character of the original open landscape. As part of the first phase of the restoration, it was therefore necessary to remove this vegetation, and over 5 000 trees, mostly spruce and coppice, were felled to make way once again for the majestic ancient oaks, which are also home to insect species protected under NATURA 2000.
The project was also preceded by the revitalisation of the dead arms of the Elbe River, but this part is not the subject of the competition entry. It can be said that the current landscape corresponds to the character of the original environment before the river was regulated.
The preparation of the project itself and the gradual release of the immediate vicinity of the veteran trees took place over a period of 10 years in order to eliminate dangerous damage to the old trees after release from the bay. In the last phase, 3,500 trees were felled and a meadow was planted in the areas left by the felled trees. The original composite sightlines were supplemented with newly planted trees.
The restored area is fully functional and has returned to the area, along with the return of spatial and biological diversity, the original thoughtful design of the layout of this specific historical infrastructure for horse training. Thanks to the proposed modifications, not only during carriage rides but also during excursions and wanderings, we have a unique opportunity to experience the landscape as our ancestors have admired it for centuries.
Role of the entrant in the project: landscape architect Přemysl Krejčiřík, Kamila Krejčiříková / Ateliér Krejčiříkovi
Project location: Kladruby nad Labem (GPS 50.049, 15.462) Czech Republic
Design year: 2017-18
Year Built: 2020