The reconstruction of Poštová ulica (Post Street) has recently been heralded as the newest investment project in the Old Town district. After several years of effort revitalising the historic core of the city, city council is gradually switching its attention to areas beyond the original city walls.
Poštová, which connects SNP Square with Hodžovo Square and the Presidential Palace, has been a love affair for Old Town officials for a couple of years. The first signs that officials were planning to do something with the area were evidenced in the reconstruction of the nearby Royko Passage, which runs south off Obchodná Street. It has always been a busy street, but at the same time somewhat overlooked. In recent years it has merely served pedestrians as a fast connection to the city centre.
In general, Poštová has poor quality pavement. Furthermore, its northern part alongside the Forum Hotel has a series of unattractive urban structures. Opposite the hotel itself there is an evident lack of any urban structure at all, and instead a small unkempt park has become a favourite place for the homeless and late-night party-goers.
The new project for Poštová was developed by the well-known local architectural firm, Bogár Králik Urban. It is dominated by a symbolic carpet of red brick pavement, the idea of which is to bring style and an attractiveness to the area. About 200 metres long, the brick will be overlaid by a grey pavement in the shape of a postage stamp just before it leads into the subway under Hodžovo Square. A fountain will sit in a small new square, and the ground will be sprinkled with the website and e-mail addresses of individuals and companies who are taking part in the reconstruction.
Another new addition will be a life-sized bronze statue of a postman. The Old Town district has signed a contract for outdoor city street ornaments with the French company JC Decaux. New lamps, benches and dustbins will be dotted through the northern part of the street opposite the Forum Hotel.
The opposite side of the street along the hotel will encompass 56 ground lamps in the shape of postmarks to provide a visual connection from Bratislava with different places around Europe, such as Prague, Washington, Vienna, London, Budapest and Warsaw. The cooperation of the state postal company, Slovenská pošta, has been important in the design of the smaller architectural features which will serve as a reminder of the profession that inspired the street's name.
Reconstruction is due to begin in September. It is estimated that it will last for 8 to 10 weeks in three separate stages. First, the new pavement will be laid around the underpass, followed by the upper part of the street down to the tramway line on Obchodná. Finally, the lower part of Poštová will be repaved down to SNP Square. The budget for the entire project is 14 million crowns ($300,000), most of which will come directly from the pockets of the Old Town district.
All the possible benefits of a generous reconstruction of Poštová cannot be harvested, however, if the city does not succeed in humanising the underpass beneath Hodžovo Square. Especially at night, the underpass is a disgraceful place. While renovating Poštová, the Old Town district plans to carry out some minor construction work in the underpass which would see it closed from 10.00 p.m. to 5.00 am. This may eliminate vandalism and the opportunity for drug dealers and graffiti sprayers to meet there at night.
It is hard to understand why the police have not taken some action against them so far; information about these individuals gathering in the underpass is a public secret. All three entries to the underpass should be altered so that they can be locked. Architects are also considering the reconstruction of the entrance to the underpass from Poštová. The concrete that blocks the view of the Presidential Palace would be replaced by transparent material, such as glass.
A Post Street can be found in every decent city in the world. Most of the streets bearing this name worldwide belong among their cities' most imposing and busiest roads. The reconstruction of Poštová Street in Bratislava will help to give the Slovak version a more prestigious position in the capital's downtown area.
21. Aug 2000 at 0:00 | Milan Vajda