Bohumil Chvojka

Date of birth: 19. 9. 1886 Bezděkov

Death date: 5. 3. 1962 Plzeň (?)

Biography

This significant Pilsen architect of the inter-war and immediate post-war period was born on the 19th of September 1886 in Bezděkov near Pardubice. In the years 1905–1912, he studied at the Academy of Fine Art in Prague and also with Professors Josef Schulz, Jan Koula and Rudolf Kříženecký at the Czech Technical University in Prague. During the First World War, he fought on the Balkan Front. In the year 1919, he submitted his design in the architecture competition for the crematory building in Pardubice and was employed as a teacher at the Czech State Technical School in Pilsen (the Secondary School of Civil Engineering today) in the same year. In the period of 1943–1948, he was the school’s director.

Chvojka’s first major realisation in Pilsen was the Czech Brethren Church of Master Jan Hus on the corner of Němejcova and Borská Streets (C3–1722) in the years 1922–1925. Although his first design was in the historicising Neo-Baroque style, the final moderate look is a synthesis of geometrical Modernist architecture and elements of Cubism-influenced National Style. Probably in 1925, Bohumil Chvojka joined the Association of Pilsen Artists, which evolved into the Association of Visual Artists of West Bohemia. In the autumn of 1926, the association held its first exhibition, where Chvojka was also represented in the architecture section, as he was, besides his architecture work, an active artist experimenting with a whole range of techniques.

In 1925, Chvojka’s design won the architecture competition for the District Health Insurance Company building on the then-forming Denisovo nábřeží (Denis Embankment) on the Radbuza River (C1–1000), his collaborator in this project being the builder František Vachta. The building was completed according to his design in 1927. It is Chvojka’s most significant realisation in Pilsen, with a marked modern character (flat roofs, the prominent horizontal segmentation of the building through cornices in contrast with the vertically conceived central staircase tower). Along with the insurance company, Chvojka also designed other buildings intended to shape the quay area in the direction of Americká Avenue – it was absolutely unique in Pilsen for such a large set to be planned by one architect. Bohumil Chvojka took part in the Exhibition of Contemporary Culture in Brno with his design of a building complex in 1928. Although the Masaryk Student House (C1–1150) was the only object realised out of the whole set (1925–1929), Chvojka continued to occupy himself with the area of Denisovo nábřeží. In the first half of the 1930s, together with Václav Neckář he prepared a Functionalist project of Trade Schools in the Denisovo nábřeží section between Americká Avenue and the railway. It was planned to be the largest school building complex in Pilsen. It was, however, never realised. Chvojka collaborated with Václav Neckář once again in the first half of the 1940s when they prepared the renovation of the Peklo Culture House together.

From the second half of the 1940s, Chvojka worked on some projects together with his son Bohumil Chvojka Jr. – e.g on the competition design for the monument to the US Amy in the year 1947 and on the project adapting the block between the Měšťanská Beseda building and Americká Avenue from the year 1949. After 1948, Chvojka worked in the newly established state-owned firm Stavoprojekt for nine years, where he was systematically involved/occupied with the design of a large hospital building to close the block of already existing structures on Denisovo nábřeží along Americká Avenue, yet this project also remained unrealised.

The creative career of Bohumila Chvojka, who obtained a PhD. for his thesis “Typology of Social Buildings”, came to a close in the 1950s. Chvojka was awarded a high state distinction “For Outstanding Work” in 1958, the same year when the exhibition of his life’s work was held. Bohumil Chvojka died after a long illness on the 5th March 1962.

 

 AP – PK

Selection of other works

1928–1931
District Children’s Home on Karlovarská St., Pilsen–Lochotín (together with Rudolf Černý); (Procházka Institute of the Faculty of Medicine of the Charles University)

1928
The architect’s own house on Majerova St., Pilsen

1929–1932
Set of the so-called Krofta’s houses of the Burghers Brewery on Rokycanská St. (Pilsner Urquell today), Pilsen

1932
Design of the Hus People’s University on Denisovo nábřeží (not realised), Pilsen

1933
Design of the Trade Schools on Denisovo nábřeží (together with Václav Neckář; not realised), Pilsen

C0C1C2C3C4C5C6C7C8C9