For the first time within reach! After 150 years from the first idea and almost 70 years since the founding of the Janáček Philharmonic, we are just a step away from having a new cultural centre. What has the way to the new concert hall been like?
Grand opening of the new concert hall in Ostrava
The grand opening of the new concert hall in Ostrava is planned at the end of the year 2024.
Start of construction
The concert hall will be built on the site of the amphitheater behind the House of Culture of the city of Ostrava. The Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava will find the necessary background in it. It will be built according to the winning design of the studios Steven Holl Architects from New York + Architecture Acts from Prague. Construction of the new concert hall building should begin in 2022 and be completed two years later.
Competition for construction contractors
Based on the completed construction study and project documentation, a public tender will be announced, from which the construction contractor will emerge.
Preparation of construction documentation
The preparatory phase of the construction of the concert hall according to the design by Steven Holl Architects from New York and Architecture Acts from Prague is underway. In this period, the specification of detours or connections, the delimitation of the hall towards the park and the location of a new water element are being addressed. Preparatory meetings are also attended by conservationists who pay attention to the sensitive connection with the original listed building, or firefighters who are in charge of the security of the building. All stages of project documentation should be completed by the end of 2021.
The winning design
The city of Ostrava resumed talks about the intention to build a concert hall. In 2018, a Memorandum on cooperation in the preparation and implementation of the project (Construction of a new concert hall as an extension to the House of Culture Ostrava) was signed between the city of Ostrava, the Moravian-Silesian Region and the Czech Ministry of Culture (the Ministry of Culture undertook to contribute 600 million, the Moravian-Silesian Region 300 million Crowns, the remaining financing is provided from a special purpose fund of the city of Ostrava). In August 2018, the city of Ostrava announced an architectural competition. 34 architectural studios participated in it and a year later the winners were teams of architects from Steven Holl Architects studios from New York and Architecture Acts from Prague.
The City of Ostrava initiated an international public combined urban competition for the revitalization of the Černá louka area in Ostrava with a focus on creating a cultural cluster. A cultural complex was to be created here and this idea was closely linked to the idea of candidacy for the European City of Culture 2015. The winning design by MAXWAN Architects + Urbanists from the Netherlands included a exhibition hall (Kunsthalle), a modern music centre (Music Pavilion) a complex of schools and a creative incubator and a concert hall with several halls. Pilsen eventually became the European City of Culture 2015 and Ostrava abandoned the project. The construction of a new university campus is currently being prepared in the area of Černá louka. There will be new sports and technology facilities for the University of Ostrava and a Cluster of Art and Design.
First architectural competition
The Ostrava State Philharmonic, in agreement with the Union of Architects of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, announced in 1969 an architectural competition for the design of a concert hall. The department of the chief architect for the winning design by architects Ivo Klimeš and Evžen Kuba reserved a place directly opposite the House of Culture of the City of Ostrava. In the mid-1970s, the Communist Party leadership decided to use the building for party conventions and conferences, among other places, instead of the planned concert hall. Two more designs came from the architect Ivo Klimeš. In 1987, based on the requirements of the Communist Party leadership, he changed the original one, increased the capacity of both planned halls, and the building was to be moved closer to the city centre. The hall in the form of an oval amphitheatre with three protrusions was rather "convention-like". The third proposed design comes from the late 1980's, however, at that time there were other priorities on the agenda than planning the construction of a concert hall, and with the change in the political situation after November 1989, the main initiator of the construction suffered a fall as well.
New House of culture as the first base for Janáček philharmonic
On 1 January 1954, Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava was founded (then under the name Ostrava Symphony Orchestra). The concerts took place in the neo-baroque hall of the Zdeněk Nejedlý Theatre (now the Antonín Dvořák Theater) until the early 1960s. It was the only space suitable for a more demanding musical repertoire. The orchestra also regularly performed in cinemas within and outside the city of Ostrava, in theatres, in the Tatran sports hall, in the tent of the Beskydy circus in Fifejdy or in the Poklad House of Culture in Ostrava-Poruba. In 1954, the architect Jaroslav Fragner designed a building for the present-day House of Culture of the City of Ostrava. The construction of a multifunctional space for art and culture began in 1956. Immediately after opening in 1961, the House of Culture Ostrava became one of the important cultural centres of the city.
The events of the war meant the interruption of any efforts to implement cultural buildings. The concerts took place in multifunctional halls, in the large studio of Radiožurnál or in the city theatre. In the post-war years, the only design of a hall intended exclusively for music productions was created, namely the Janáček Concert Hall project by Oskar Olár in 1949. Only the impressive perspective of the design, according to which the hall was to be located near the park, was preserved. We can only speculate that it was the surroundings of Comenius Gardens or some of the then planned housing estates. The project thus did not quite correspond to the principles of socialist realism, and therefore it was abandoned.
Connection with the House of art
The dictatorship of the Nazi regime influenced many representatives of the German minority in Czechoslovakia, also having an impact on architecture. Alois Pix from the construction department of Vítkovické horní a hutní těžířstvo (Vítkovice Mining and Metallurgical Company) prepared a study of the music hall in the form of an extension to the Ostrava House of Art. He proposed that a conservatively conceived hall with a rectangular floor plan, following the Prussian classicism of the 19th century, be added behind the purist-functionalist palace.
Several large Ostrava companies, such as Severní dráha Ferdinandova (Northern Ferdinand´s Railway), Báňská a hutní společnost (Mining and Metallurgical Company) or Vítkovické kamenouhelné doly (Vítkovice Coal Mines), joined forces to build Osvětový dům Moravské Ostravy (House Enlightenment of Moravian Ostrava), which was to represent a completely new stage in the development of musical life in the region. According to the winning design by architects Lubomír and Čestmír Šlapet, and architect and acoustician Arné Hošek, a complex of several buildings was to be built on the site of the old fire station (next to the current Antonín Dvořák Theatre). The design included the construction of a large hall for symphony orchestra concerts with a large choir. The authors also suggested that the individual spaces of the House of Enlightenment could be used independently or interconnected in different ways. Music productions and art exhibitions were to be a "part" of city life thanks to large glass vistas. The events of the second half of 1938 and the beginning of World War II marked the end of ideas about the construction of this progressive complex.
In the 1870s and 1880s, buildings were erected in the environment of a developing centre of heavy industry, which saturated all the requirements of cultural life (large halls for theatre and music productions, balls, club meetings, etc.). However, these universal spaces were not suitable for holding large symphony concerts. That is why the so-called "Konzerthaus" was to be built on the territory of Moravian Ostrava more than 150 years ago. However, all negotiations were fruitless and the musical culture thus remained part of the cultural houses and theatres. In 1885, the German House was built on Národní třída with a theatre hall for 600 people and a music hall for 120 listeners. It served cultural events of all kinds, but the acoustics were not satisfactory. Social and cultural life in the city at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries was concentrated in the so-called national houses (the Czech House was on the site of the present Jiří Myron Theatre, the German House was destroyed at the end of World War II and the Polish House still stands in its place) and the City Theatre (today the Antonín Dvořák Theatre).