Josef Morkus

Planning Study in Prague



This work has been elaborated as a Dissertation Thesis during my doctorate studies at the Czech Technical University in Prague - Faculty of Architecture that I successfuly defended in 2012.



The dissertation is devoted to planning (urban) studies. It analyzes their history and explains their position in the current Czech legislation. It compiles a complete overview of existing as well as future studies in Prague and confronts them with similar Czech and foreign documents. It examines the purpose, types and use of planning studies and their links to other planning documents. The dissertation determines their role in proposed proactive and participative city development management. It results in proposals for optimisation of the content and increase in efficiency of the planning study procurement process. The dissertation is supplemented by extensive annexes.


The dissertation is devoted to planning (urban) studies, with emphasis on their use in Prague. It examines them both in a horizontal and vertical perspective, i.e. from history to expected future development as well as in a wide range of views on issues. It is conceived as a system that is not closed, while it is possible to refine, extend, deepen and complement it.

The introduction provides a historical overview of Czech building and planning law, with focus on documents similar to a planning study. It clarifies the position of planning studies in the current Czech legislation and summarizes the requirements laid down in the Building Act and related decrees. The dissertation examines recent studies and similar documents in Prague, analyzes studies that should be procured in the forthcoming years, compares them with studies and similar documents in other cities and confronts them with foreign urban planning documents and systems. The dissertation deals with the purpose, use and types of planning studies and examines roles of different participants in its procurement process. It fulfils the objective to thoroughly summarize, organize and structure information on planning studies from its historic legacy to the reflexion of current trends.

With the aim to define appropriate purpose of planning studies, their position in the planning system and their links to other planning documents, contrary to current praxis, a clear role differentiation of various detailed planning documents, not interchangeable with each other, is proposed. Based on detailed analysis, a main role of planning studies is defined to specify a primary conception design, coordination and phasing of large complex areas without concrete investment projects. Studies of unbuildable areas, traffic studies or studies dealing with a particular problem or sub-system will be less frequent. In contrast, for a territory with already known conception and clarified investment projects, it is suggested to use a verifying study that doesn’t have to be, contrary to planning studies, procured by the city. Initiating and projecting (but not procuring) the planning study by an investor is also admitted and a suitable process is proposed. Opposed to planning studies, a binding regulatory plan plays also a vital role. Given the experience from abroad and from some Czech cities, the need for procuring regulatory plans in much greater extent than now (especially in Prague) and the need for not replacing them with planning studies are defined. For this purpose it is proposed to delimit locations for regulatory plans in the land use plan and to process the regulatory plans for significantly smaller areas than today, with clear conception resolved before e.g. by planning studies.

In a key part of the dissertation, recent studies are thoroughly analyzed and on the basis of their criticism, problems and inappropriate procedures of their preparation are pointed out. A recommended procurement process of a planning study which leads to rationalization and better efficiency of processing and use of studies, is suggested to achieve the desired objective. It is proposed to use an urban competition to find the planner and the basic design vision, which will be more transparent, provide more options and achieve a better quality than the existing procedures. In some cases the results of an urban competition will even be sufficient, but usually it will be followed by a planning study.

The dissertation concludes that the current studies are unnecessarily extensive and too detailed for their purpose. Planning studies should move away from detailed research and aim more at visions. Therefore, a fundamental reduction in the range of surveys and analysis, targeted selection of topics and utilization of planning analytical materials to facilitate their processing is suggested. It is proposed to elaborate the planning study only in a reduced scope and detail. It is suggested to process the study in more detail only if it is necessary to verify any of the issues more precisely or from various points of views. The further elaboration should be based on a broad agreement on the basic design. The goal is always to adapt the process and scope of the studies to the affected area or problem and their future use.

In order to suggest better utilization of planning studies, an objective of this dissertation, problems leading to their poor usability are first pointed out. One of them is the absence of a clear final output and the need to use several materials simultaneously. The need to present a coordinated final material, which would be accepted without further conditions, is therefore emphasized. For a broad consensual agreement it is recommended to discuss the various stages of a planning study. Suitable moments and discussion partners including public are identified. Attention is drawn to the consequences of entering the data on a study into the register of the planning activity. Unlike current practices and legal assumptions, the need for publication of planning studies is stressed as it is a basic precondition for their consistent use, respect and slower obsolescence.

Based on a survey of current trends and with regard to the objective to utilize foreign experiences, fundamental changes in city development management (not only Prague) are proposed. The approach should shift from passive to active, including the establishment of development agencies, active land management and cooperation between public and private sector. The planning study should be right at the beginning of the process, primarily aimed at variant proposal of sustainable development of the territory. In accordance with the design guidelines in the planning study, a binding regulatory plan should be prepared and published. After such conditions and rules are set, the city could start to sell the land with a planning gain.

The dissertation is supplemented by extensive annexes expanding individual chapters and containing additional information, charts and images. These comprise an extensive list and catalogue of applicable as well as anticipated future studies in Prague including their detailed collation and analysis or a comprehensive overview of foreign spatial planning systems and documents.




Short version of the Dissertation Thesis in PDF in a new window (345 kB) – IN CZECH ONLY




Text of the Dissertation Thesis in PDF in a new window (14 MB) – IN CZECH ONLY

Supplement of the Dissertation Thesis in PDF in a new window (37 MB) – IN CZECH ONLY




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The Dissertation Thesis Planning Study in Prague, drafted by Josef Morkus, is under the licence

Creative Commons: Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative.



Last update: 1 May 2016


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