Reflection of Marta Moretti
Ostrovy s.r.o, the Czech partner, organized in June 2014 (19th/21rst) the River of Opportunities meeting in Prague, during the United Islands festival. The main focus of the meeting was to experiment several typologies of audience development, in the framework of an important open air music festival. In my opinion, one of the most interesting topics addressed during this meeting was connected to the selection of sites hosting public events. The use of derelict or marginalized areas for cultural purposes appears to be as a first requisite for their regeneration. Attracting people and soft activities in brownfields or former port/industrial areas even with small investments, represents the first step for integrating them once again in the urban system. The Prague meeting gave us a wide range of experiences in this sense: from the use of a green area along the riverfront, right in the centre of the city (United Island), to the former cargo railway station in Žižkov – a brownfield that has been used as cultural site. Even if not restored and only partially accessible, this site, used as club for music and drinking for the United Islands festival and other events, have started to be reused by people, most probably creating the base for its definitive re-integration to a permanent function.
Furthermore, partner event of the Festival was the architectural conference reSITE, devoted to “Cities and Landscapes of the New Economy” which took place in recently opened Forum Karlin. Beside the extremely interesting conference on architecture, politics, finance and community participation with leading architects and experts, the new multifunctional auditorium Karlin is in its self an example of reuse and integration between old and new realized by the Spanish architect Ricardo Bofil. In fact, besides the modern conference hall, hosting up to 3,000 people, the complex also includes the refurbished premises of the historical boiler manufactory ČKD supplying steam boilers during the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This again it’s another example of audience development since the complex - functional, efficient and full of memories - now also hosting the seat of the local publishing house Economia, crosses different flows of users. Finally, our partner offered also an extremely interesting guided architectural walk, through the Art Nouveau and later remains in the city centre, accompanied by architect Adam Grebian. Another possible approach to the city and to its public and open air cultural heritage which allows also the development of a better understanding of the city of Prague, and its riverfronts.