Skip to main content

Culture and Creativity

Prague Public Space Design Manual

A guide to urban space transformation.

Type of project :
Size of city/region:

Key facts

Type of project:  Governance/ Policy

Main sponsor: City of Prague 

Year completed: 2014 

City / regional background

Prague has great ambitions to reverse the negative impact of earlier car-centred planning. In 2013, Prague City Hall converted the previous planning institution into the Prague Institute for Planning and Development (IPR Prague). The goal was to create an architectural and planning advisory body for the city. IPR Prague was tasked with a comprehensive approach to improving the quality of public spaces and to overall planning in the city.  

The city is striving to protect its heritage and the unique character of its various neighbourhoods while limiting urban sprawl, improving the urban environment to respond to residents’ needs, and adapting to climate change. With one of the largest UNESCO World Heritage areas in Europe, Prague faces unique challenges regarding managing the public realm and incorporating climate mitigation strategies. 

The city has made high-quality built environment a priority, tackling many years of poor-quality public space construction and maintenance. 


The Public Space Manual is a public document setting principles, rules, recommendations, and criteria for the creation of public spaces. Released in 2014 by IPR Prague, it serves as a guide for the city’s strategy for future public realm improvements. 

The manual is addressed to anyone active in the investment, planning, design, approval, maintenance, and operation of public space (city and municipal districts officials, planners and designers, private investors and the public). 

Through simple language and illustrations, it clearly communicates goals and principles for making the public realm more liveable and less car oriented. Contents include the various kinds of public spaces and their role in the city, streetscape and traffic management for qualitative public spaces and individual components (e.g., street furniture, trees, technical elements, surfaces).  

Since its publication, two plug-in documents helped complete the manual: “Art in Public Space” and “Catalogue of Recommended Elements”. 

A 2015 evaluation by architects and urban planners praised its positive impact on the public realm, marking a shift towards the quality of the city’s public spaces. The best indicator of the manual’s success remains its continuous use and enhancement through targeted plug-ins. 

Criteria for high-quality (context, sense of place, diversity, beauty)

  • By integrating contributions from architects, engineers, civil servants, and other stakeholders, the manual is a prime example of dealing with fragmented management and administration of public space by setting good standards. It also shows how environmental considerations can be integrated into public spaces in the city.  

  • IPR Prague published a brochure available in Czech and English to present the basic principles set out in the Prague Public Space Design Manual and the proposed Public Space Development Strategy. It is written in an accessible manner for non-professionals.   

  • The manual has helped to kick-start several important follow-on documents, including a Catalogue of Recommended Elements of Public Spaces, which builds on the manual’s guidelines and offers more tailored solutions that consider the character of specific sites. 

  • In practice, the implementation of the manual has been a long process. However, it has gained acceptance among the many stakeholders involved in public space decision making in the city. On its approval, the manual mandated that organisations under the City of Prague adhere to its guidelines in projects, plans, public space investments, and when commenting on methodological and legislative documents.  

Governance and management

A staff of 12 from IPR Prague worked on the original Public Space Manual. Two employees of IPR Prague plus members of various working groups made up of stakeholders continue to work on the plug-ins. 

The Public Space Manual and associated documents were developed in close collaboration with the city administration and other stakeholders, such as the Technical Roads Administration, public transport providers, utility providers, city districts, and other institutions involved with maintaining of the streets and public areas in Prague. 

Budget and financing

The manual was created by IPR Prague staff as part of their regular operations. Using an approximation of the time spent developing the manual, the cost can be estimated at €200,000. The total budget comes from the City of Prague. 

Transferable ideas

The manual is the first tool in a wider comprehensive approach to improve the quality of Prague's public spaces. It is of fundamental importance not only for Prague, but it has also served as an inspiration for other cities in the Czech Republic and abroad.  

Tips from the city

  • Translate important documents into English, as this is key for promoting communication and exchange with other cities. 

  • Involve stakeholders from the start to make sure guidance manuals meets their needs. 

  • Make any manual for public space design as user-friendly and accessible as possible to ensure maximum buy-in.

  • Conduct a dialogue with the responsible institutions for legally mandated legislative requirements to improve the urban scape in line with the recommendations.

Contact information

Contact the Institute of Planning and Development of the Capital City of Prague via email.