Municipal Spa
1926–1932 / 1946–1953

Denisovo nábřeží 1217/3, U Lázní 1217/1 (Plzeň) Plzeň Východní Předměstí
Public transport: Hlavní nádraží
GPS: 49.7453098N, 13.3841693E

By 1931, the City of Pilsen had sufficient bathing places in rivers and pools, but lacked proper public baths in which the citizens could swim all year round at affordable prices. The seasonal health spa in Lochotín and the old municipal baths erected according to plans by T. Kilian in 1871 near the site of the present-day “Skyscraper” no longer satisfied the needs of the growing population of rapidly developing Pilsen.

The construction of a new health spa and baths, which had been discussed for almost 30 years and had been the subject of a number of architectural competitions (particularly in 1905, 1911 and 1914), was postponed due to not only financial issues, but also the First World War. In the late 1920s and early 30s, it was finally possible, with the support of the region, the municipal savings bank, Škoda Engineering Works and the brewery Měšťanský pivovar, to implement construction of the spa, which first opened to the public in the first phase in 1931. (The building was completed in October 1932.) The Neoclassical plans for the spa, drafted by Ohmann’s student Bedřich Bendelmayer, won the prewar competition of 1914 for the site on the left bank of the Radbuza River near Wilson Bridge. Following regulation of the river, a different site was chosen for the building on the new embankment and Bendelmayer’s original grand plans, which included a massive tower, had to be modified.

The adaptation, however, executed by the Pilsen builder Ladislav Fiala, respected the original Neoclassical concept of the symmetrical front facade with a monumental avant-corps with ionic columns and a triangular tympanum. This traditional arrangement, enhanced by the use of a band of rusticated bossage on the ground floor and high hipped and mansard roofs, though it might appear by today’s standards anachronistic, is reminiscent of the long tradition of spa architecture reaching back to the era of Ancient Rome. From a perspective of size and technical facilities, the spa at the time of its construction was in fact regarded as the most modern in the Czechoslovak Republic. The health spa had four departments – shower, bath, steam and swimming pool sections. The health institute operated mud, carbon and medical baths, hydrotherapy and electrotherapy. The individual departments were grouped around the lobby so as to be directly accessible from it and to provide the ticket desk with a view of all visitors. The swimming pool soon became a popular destination for the general public and was often used for swimming lessons. As Miloslav Krieger states, "whole generations of Pilsen children here achieved fundamental progress in swimming. Instruction courses for schoolchildren and youths were conducted here regularly since 1937.”

The spa was seriously damaged by the Allied bombing of Pilsen in 1944. A postwar reconstruction gave the building its present-day appearance. The architect, Václav Neckář, did not renew the Classical column frontage and reduced the excessive ornamentation of the facade. He freely added a double staircase and a low portico with massive stone columns to the original monumental entranceway.

Since termination of operation of the spa in 1993, the building has fallen into decay. Since November 2012 it has been used as a paintball arena. In 2009, however, the Pilsen architecture studio of Jan Soukup drafted a study for reconstruction of the whole complex that anticipates renewal of the swimming baths as well as new use of parts of the complex for hotel, café, residential and parking purposes.

 


 

Investor

City of Pilsen

Sources

  • NPÚ ÚOP Plzeň, Evidenční list nemovité památky, č. rejstříku ústředního seznamu 11275/4-5070.
  • Archiv města Plzně
 
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