Prague’s first suburb, Karlín, was once an industrial hotbed. Established in 1817 at the onset of the Industrial Revolution, it became a manufacturing hub for everything from textile printing to producing trams and gasworks used to light Prague’s streetlamps. In 2002, a catastrophic flood put the district two metres underwater, decimating buildings, transit infrastructure and public amenities.

Iconik apartment building by edit! in Prague

In the wake of this destruction, the Karlín Group, a local developer, invited Catalan architect Ricardo Bofill to collaborate with young Czech architects on a proposal to transform the area from a bygone industrial district into a locus of contemporary life. The district is now among the trendiest in the city, with restaurants, parks, start-up offices, renovated Art Nouveau houses and sensitively restored industrial buildings.

Stairwell with concrete steps

Given its architectural renaissance, it’s no surprise that the area is one of the most desirable parts of Prague. A new nine-storey apartment building designed by local studio edit!, dubbed Iconik, is helping to meet this increased demand. Located on one of the last empty sites resulting from the flood, on the main avenue, the building reflects its historic industrial context. To make efficient use of the infill lot while meeting local regulations, the architects visually divided the building into two masses — a narrow and tall nine-storey volume and a lower and wider eight-storey volume — with alternating roof heights and cornices, typical of Karlīn.

Living room

The building’s materiality, too, pays respect to the character of the neighbourhood. The Sokolovská Street-facing facade is clad in two-tone ceramics that recall the nearby 1930s apartments and former industrial buildings, composed as a graphic grid that frames the windows and balconies. On the ground floor, aluminum slats reference the scale of the building that previously inhabited the site.

Dining room overlooking balcony

At grade, two restaurant-ready commercial spaces open up to a courtyard at the rear of the building. Upstairs, meanwhile, the 48 apartments range from modest 28-square-metre one-bedroom layouts to 141-square-metre four-bedroom layouts and include both short- and long-term rentals. Most of the larger units have a private outdoor space accessible from the living room and bedroom, conceived as an anteroom that offers an additional layer of privacy for the interior.

Rooftop terrace at Iconik apartment in Prague

Karlín is known to have some of the best views of Prague, and Iconik is no exception. The upper two floors are designed as more spacious two-storey penthouses with fully glazed living rooms, a rooftop terrace and a swimming pool — all overlooking the nearby Vítkov hill and the district’s rooftop landscape.

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