Extension to the Directorate of State Railways in Pilsen building
1948–1952

Purkyňova 1017/22 (Plzeň) Plzeň Jižní Předměstí
Public transport: Mrakodrap
Masarykovo náměstí
GPS: 49.7412054N, 13.3762943E

The Pilsen rail hub, built in rapid succession in 1861–1877, was, due to its key location in Western Bohemia, one of the most important in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The importance of the Pilsen junction, which significantly influenced the development of the local industry, was enhanced even more by the construction of large-scale railway buildings – on the one hand the Emperor Franz Joseph I Central Station dating from 1902–1907, and on the other the building of the Directorate of State Railways in Škroupova Street, dating from 1895–1897.

The Pilsen Directorate, one of only four in Czechoslovakia prior to 1918, oversaw routes throughout North-western, Western and South-western Bohemia as well as part of South Bohemia. After some time, however, its monumental Neo-Renaissance building became inadequate for the requirements of rail administration. In 1924, therefore, the Directorate bought a site adjacent to Purkyňova Street and had a courtyard extension built. The new administrative building did not appear on the site, however, until the postwar period, in 1948 to 1952, in the context of the Socialist "Two-Year Plan". The plans for the building were drafted by the husband and wife team of architects Jarmila Lisková and Ivan Šula in the spirit of interwar Functionalist architecture, which was typical of “Two-Year Plan” development. The hallmarks of the style can be seen in the characteristic use of ceramic tiling on the facade of the parterre as well as in the steel tube railings of the uppermost floor, the receding position of which masks the considerable height difference in comparison with the neighbouring buildings – the former German Realgymnasium secondary school on the left and Richard Krofta’s family house (C1–1972)  on the right. The Directorate building is distinct from both of these due to its smooth facade, given rhythm only by the regular pattern of three-light windows. The entrance, situated in the central axis of the facade, is not in any way accentuated and is remarkably small and unobtrusive in proportion to the size of the building. The building has a three section layout typical of administrative buildings, with a corridor in the middle running the whole length of the building and a spacious staircase hall.

Alongside the new building, the architects also designed a superstructure extension to the fourth floor of the original Directorate building on the corner of Škroupova and Jagellonská and connected together the various parts of the complex. Up to the present day, the postwar headquarters of the state railways have undergone partial reconstruction, including replacement of the windows on the ground floor and first floor. The arrangement of the windows is unfortunately not respected by the inclusion of a small fixed light in each, the alternating placement of which in either the left or right side of the window disturbs the uniform look of the facade.

 


 

Investor

Directorate of State Railways in Pilsen (Ředitelství státních drah v Plzni)

Sources

  • Archiv Odboru stavebně správního, Technický úřad Magistrátu města Plzně
  • SOA v Plzni (fond Škodova strojírna; fond Závody V. I. Lenina Plzeň, n. p.; fond Škoda a. s.; fond Akciová společnost, dříve Škodovy závody v Plzni; fond ASAP – Desenský)
 
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