Karel Bubla

Date of birth: 24. 9. 1873 Strakonice

Death date: 1951

Biography

The builder and architect Karel Bubla was born in Strakonice on the 24th of September 1873 into the family of the civil servant Karel Bubla and his wife Anna Bublová. He completed a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering at the State Czechoslovak Technical School on Chodské Square in Pilsen. His teacher was Viktorin Šulc, author of a great number of public, private and technical building projects and urbanist designs for Pilsen and it surroundings. Šulc worked as a teacher at the Technical School in the years 1899–1912. He had an inclination towards Historicism and Decorativism in his work and made use of eclectic Renaissance, Baroque and Art Nouveau morphology, as was fashionable at that time. The roots of Bubla’s later interest in applying Art Nouveau elements in architecture may lie with Šulc. The collaboration of Šulc and Bubla was demonstrated in the design of the gate of the First International Exhibition of Culinary Art and Hospitality held in Pilsen in 1904. Šulc’s influence or share in the authorship can also be presumed in other realisations of Bubla. However, concrete instances of Karel Bubla’s collaboration with other architects and sculptors remain a subject of investigation.

After his studies in Vienna, Bubla founded a building company in Pilsen which designed and realised apartment houses with Art Nouveau decorations in particular on Pilsen’s Hálkova Street lining the Domažlice railway line in the developing Říšské, later Southern Suburb. The builder’s own four-storey house with a studio was built here, however Karel Bubla sold the building at the end of the same year (this might have had something to do with the financial difficulties of his company and its removal from the Regional Court Register in the year 1910). Bubla’s successor firm became a company called Building Cooperative Bubla & Co., Ltd. in Pilsen. Additionally, Karel Bubla owned a circular saw and invented his own method of wood impregnation and staining. In the year 1919, Bubla had the trademark Jihočeská zbrojovka, Ltd. registered with its base in Strakonice. The firm started arms production a year later, though not in Bubla’s home town of Strakonice but in Pilsen, in the former Holbmayer’s Mill. It was only in 1921 that the prospering armament factory moved production to South Bohemia. The successful company produced military arms but also sports and hunting weapons. In 1929 – already as Česká zbrojovka (Czech Armament Factory) with the brand name ČZ – the firm also started to produce bicycles, the main customer of which was the Czechoslovak Army. Arms production, which proved to be a profitable business plan, was probably also affected by the fact that Bubla had a job with an armament factory during his studies in Vienna and was allegedly “a passionate lover of hunting and shooting” himself.

Bubla’s Pilsen buildings of the first decade of the last century present good quality and very original architecture, whose integral parts were plastic decorative elements and unusual high quality sculptural decorations, often in Art Nouveau style. It was these provocative motifs that caused the architect’s realisations in Pilsen to be nicknamed “Bublanina“ (sponge cake). Standing out among all Bubla’s buildings is Čeněk Kocek’s apartment building with shops at no. 7 Dominikánská Street from the years 1906–1907 with an unusual and technically demanding conical central bay with balconies in the upper section of the façade. Also worth mentioning is the complex of detached and semi-detached houses (C4–1655, C4–1665) which Bubla realised to his own designs for the People’s Building Housing Cooperative in the villa neighbourhood Bezovka in the 1920s. With his company, Bubla prepared designs of residential houses for the same cooperative in the Southern Suburb, Doudlevce and Slovany districts. As a builder, he participated in the realisation of a building complex U Trojdohody / Triple Entente (C1–13) in the years 1923–1924.

The life of the architect Karel Bubla came to a close in 1951.


LR

Selection of other works

1904 
Gate of the First International Exhibition of Culinary Art and Hospitality held in Pilsen (with Viktorin Šulc, Vít Skála and others)

1905
Apartment building of Růžena and Václav Duda, Hálkova Street, Pilsen

1906–1907
Apartment building with shops of Čeněk Kocek, Dominikánská Street, Pilsen

1909
The architect’s own apartment building with studio, Hálkova Street, Pilsen

1909
Savings company building, Nepomuk

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