UBC Theses and Dissertations
Post-socialism and urban redevelopment: planning for the transformation of Prague’s historical core Martinson, Leanne
The city of Prague has undergone drastic transformations since the 1989 Velvet Revolution ended over forty years of socialist rule in Czechoslovakia. Democratic and market economy based systems quickly replaced the previous centralized command system. These structural shifts have significantly impacted the redevelopment of Prague in the last six years - especially the redevelopment of its crown jewel, the historical core. Using a case study format, this thesis documented some of the critical changes that have occurred within the historical core of the city of Prague during the so-called 'transitional era.' The research also analyzed the implications of these larger structural changes for the city centre and its local citizens. The primary research in Prague focussed on the emerging conflict between the rapidly developing commercial and tourist functions and the unique character of the historical core, its present mixed use function, and the future permanence of its local citizens. The research methodology used included two case studies, personal observation in Prague, a literature review, and key informant interviews. The two case study surveys documented changes in the small scale commercial or non-residential sector since the Velvet Revolution. The findings indicated that the commercial sector had increased in significance in the city centre, was selling different goods today than it was prior to 1989, and was catering to a different clientele today than it was during the socialist era. Specifically, shops and services were found to be selling predominantly luxury and tourist goods to clientele that are no longer predominantly local Czech citizens. Foreigners, both business and tourist, were found to be the key emerging clientele for the local shops operating within the historical core. The findings suggested that the function of the historical core has changed tremendously since 1989. The historical core has been revitalized and is fast becoming a commercial centre for the city. However, these changes are threatening the permanence of the local inhabitants of the residential areas within the historical core. The thesis conclusions suggest that Prague's urban planners need to work towards providing more specific strategies to address the emerging conflict between the permanence of residents within the city centre and the emerging business and tourist functions of the historical core. New urban planning policies are required if the mixed use functions (both residential and commercial uses) and inhabitants are to be maintained in the future within the historical core of Prague.