For more than 136 years, Rudolfinum has been presenting works by leading artists and ideas by eminent authorities. From the very beginning, the house has been conceived as a concert hall and art gallery and, between 1918 and 1939, it served as the seat of parliament. The Dvořák Hall offers top musicians world-class sound parameters, while visual artists enjoy spacious exhibition rooms that make generous use of natural light.
What is less well known, however, is that the roof of the Neo-Renaissance building is surrounded by a balustrade concealing a terrace of nearly 850 square metres on three sides. The reason for this is that the unique view of Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, and the Old Town has for many years been enjoyed in silence only by the statues of 16 major composers. Ordinary mortals can only catch a glimpse of the Rudolfinum during occasional organized tours.
This has been caused by the unsatisfactory condition of the terrace. The surface is uneven, important safety features are missing, and access to the roof through a narrow fire escape is somewhat complicated. Any idea of possible public use of the roof has thus not yet been considered. In less than two years, however, this could be different. If everything goes according to current plans, not only visitors to the Czech Philharmonic concerts or the Galerie Rudolfinum, but other members of the public will be able to enjoy a unique experience and view.
To Give the Terrace a New Life
The idea for the terrace reconstruction and opening came from an expert team at the Arcona Capital international company which has been a partner of the Czech Philharmonic since 2018. It only took one visit. "When I first stood on the terrace, it literally took my breath away," company director Guy Barker recalls.
As an investment expert and a fan of architecture, he was interested in all aspects of the building during his tour of Rudolfinum, but the view from the roof (and especially the potential for unused space) amazed him. "We were thrilled by the idea that we – together with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra – could help transform this extraordinarily beautiful part of one of Prague's most famous buildings into a place accessible to all."
If Rudolfinum manages to secure the necessary funding, the terrace will be subject to significant structural modifications. In addition to levelling the uneven paving, the floor surfaces will receive certain renovations (a new steel structure with granite slabs will replace the substandard concrete tiles) and modern safety features will be installed. For example, the railings at the edge of the terrace will be fitted with glass barriers approximately one meter high.
The plan also includes the necessary provision of a water and electricity supply, revision of the sewerage system and suitable lighting installation. The planners have not forgotten the location of the beehives whose home has been located on the roof since 2016 and that regularly produce the renowned "fine-tuned honey". An important part of the revitalization of the terrace will be the provision of easy disabled access for visitors from the building ground floor through a new elevator.
All this should make the terrace an attractive, inclusive and multi-purpose space for public use, intimate cultural events or private corporate events. It is early evenings and sunsets in particular that take visitors’ breath away. The magical parts of the day await their audience. "It's an exciting project, but we are approaching it with extreme responsibility," Guy Barker, a great lover of classical music and frequent visitor to Philharmonic concerts, concludes with humility.