Intense traffic at the intersection of Karla IV, Střelecká and Resslova Streets led the construction of the first city underpass in the 1970s. The project was designed by Karel Schmied from the local branch of the Stavoprojekt company. He used his experience from his trips abroad (to Austria and Switzerland), was inspired by modern metro stations and conceived the underpass as a living, “residential” pedestrian junction. Such an approach was rather rare in the Czechoslovakia until then.
The extensive sublevel space serves three quadrants of the intersection with a dominant axis connecting the city center and Prague Suburbs along Karla IV Street. The frequented route is also barrier-free – accessible via long sloping ramps. Access to the underpass is provided by three staircases, revealed from the outside by shelters with glass walls. The arm of the fourth quadrant towards Hořická Street could not be built due to finances and complications with the relocation of the sewer.
Architect Schmied turned the original, purely utilitarian, intention of the investor to build an underpass into a concept of a new, city-forming environment with shops, refreshments and public toilets. He also emphasized the artistic impact of the interior, which is why he involved the local painter Jiří Felger, he had also collaborated with on other commissions. Felger’s geometric compositions with broken lines covered the concrete walls of ramps and staircases in relief. Fragile glass surfaces of shop windows, highlights and wall panels in subtle aluminum frames contrasted with the rough solid wood.
The cover of the air handling units and electrical switchboard in the fourth quadrant of the intersection had a similar geometric ornamentation. The technical object has thus acquired an almost sculptural character.
The underpass was created with a view to maximum practicality and comfort not only for pedestrians but also for maintenance. For this reason, for example, it has increased clearance to allow the passage of cleaning vehicles. The shelter above the staircase in Střelecká Street used to be an extension for the traffic policeman’s office (later closed down due to redundancy).
At present, the underpass is in a dilapidated state and requires a comprehensive reconstruction that should respect the original architectural and artistic expression. For the time being, the most necessary interventions have been carried out, such as the repair of the shelters over the staircase. In the future, the roofing of the ramps, which are slippery in winter, is being considered, as well as the completion of the original plan to extend the underpass into the fourth section.
No means of protection have been registered.