Bohumil Hübschmann (Hypšman)

Date of birth: 10. 1. 1878 Praha

Death date: 3. 11. 1961 Praha

Biography

An architect, urban planner and an ardent supporter of old Prague, Bohumil Hypšman ranks among the most distinct personalities from building, but also heritage preservation, cultural and social life of the first half of the 20th century in our country. His work is deeply rooted in the tradition of Viennese Modernism of Wagner and Hoffmann. (Hypšman used the German form of his surname Hübschmann until 1945 when he changed it to its Czech mutation after the tragic death of his son Alex at the very end of the war.)

Bohumil Hypšman, a native of Prague New Town, passed through the artistic, theoretical and creative environment of Otto Wagner’s School at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (1900–1904) after graduating from the Prague Secondary School of Civil Engineering with Antonín Bráfa and a short internship in the studio of Friedrich Ohmann. From Vienna, however, he followed events in the Czech lands as well, entering many concept competitions such as the one for the completion of the Old Town Hall (1901), for which he designed a remarkable Neo-Gothic solution, or for the institution for the mentally ill in Bohnice, for regulation of the Lesser Town in Prague and for the Municipal House in Prague. After returning to Prague in 1904, Hypšman joined the architecture studio of Quidon Bělský. It was not until 1906 that he opened his own design office, where he focused on projects of residential and office buildings as well as utility buildings.

Although Hypšman’s first projects reflected the influence of Vienna Art Nouveau, the work of Jan Kotěra and later also influences of Geometric Modernism and Decorativism, the typical style of his buildings was sober Neoclassicism with a clear geometric layout of façades, construction purity and decorative restraint. Hypšman’s most successful creative period was the 1920s, when the young Czechoslovak Republic was looking for an adequate monumental, yet democratic expression for the buildings of its institutions. Alongside the National Style, the Wagnerian Neoclassicism advocated by Hypšman perfectly met these requirements for "state architecture". Along these lines the architect designed competition projects for the development of the left bank of the Vltava River in Prague (Holešovice, Dejvice), buildings of ministries on the waterfront and the location of Parliament in Letná (together with Antonín Engel).

The complex of ministry buildings in Podskalí below the Emmaus Monastery (1924–1931) can be considered to be Hypšman’s most generous realisation. The author conceived it with respect to the complex of the medieval monastery and the gradation of the terrain of the New Town, which was the last to resist the schematic development of the waterfront with housing blocks. In contrast, critical voices were heard too, referring to Hypšman as "one of those architects who brought to the construction of cities the idea, so harmful for the development of modern architecture, of ​​adapting the spirit of the city; he brought a sentimental, impressionistic mood to architecture".

Now the struggle for the preservation and restoration of old Prague, both in theory and in practice, is inseparably connected with the personality of Bohumil Hypšman – one of the most active members of the Club for Old Prague. He published his theoretical, critical and polemical essays most frequently in the journal Style and in the Bulletin of the Club for Old Prague. Hypšman was also involved in the State Regulatory Commission, the Mánes Association of Fine Artists and the Association of Architects, which he later chaired (after Jan Kotěra and Josef Gočár). After World War II, his books Minimum Housing (1946), One Hundred Years of the Old Market Square and the Town Hall (1946) and The Recovery of Memorable Prague (1947) were published.

Bohumil Hypšman died on 3rd November 1961 in Prague.


Selection of other works

1903–1905
Renovation of the interior and the front facade of Hotel Arcivévoda Štěpán (today part of Hotel Evropa), Wenceslas Square, Prague (at the design studio of Quido Bělský; together with B. Bendelmayer and J. Letzel)

1906
Family house, no. 33 Libocká Street, Prague – Dolní Liboc

1906–1907
Villa of Alois Balík, no. 4 Radniční Street, Mělník
Villa of Marie Neumannová, no. 3 Nová Street, Mělník

1908–1909
Family house of Hugo Sieburger, no. 18 Pod Kaštany Street, Prague-Bubeneč

1909
Family house, no. 42 Půlkruhová Street, Prague-Vokovice

1909–1911
Joint Stock Mills, no. 1037 U Uranie Street, Prague-Holešovice

1910
Villa of František Valina, no. 1 Vodárenská Street, Mělník

Sources

  • Anna Kusáková, Bohumil Hypšman. Moderní architekt v historickém městě (bakalářská práce), Ústav pro dějiny umění FF UK, Praha 2013.
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