Police Headquarters building
1936–1939

Anglické nábřeží 1778/7 (Plzeň) Plzeň Východní Předměstí
Public transport: Anglické nábřeží
Anglické nábřeží
GPS: 49.7455247, 13.3817285

During the early decades of the last century, the parts of the embankment of the Radbuza River adjacent to the historic centre of Pilsen were earmarked to become a modern, representative part of the city with a concentration of public offices and other public buildings. The architect Bohumil Chvojka was engaged for years in creating a series of designs for the right bank of the river, although only the group of buildings of the County Sickness Institution in Pilsen (C1–1000) and the Masaryk Student House (C1–1150) had been erected by the second half of the 1920s. Some years later, the Neo-Classical Municipal Baths (C1–1217) were completed according to plans by Bedřich Bendelmayer, modified by Ladislav Fiala. The most important building on the opposite embankment in the late 1920s was to become the monumental Police Headquarters, the most extensive Functionalist project of the interwar era in Pilsen.

Two architectural competitions were announced for the design of the administrative building, which was also to serve as a prison facility, police station and training centre – the first in 1934 and the second, shortlisted, two years later, in which the Pilsen architects Václav Neckář, Leo Meisl and František Beneš participated, as well as the well-known Prague architects František Čermák and Gustav Paul. The jury finally selected the duo of Čermák and Paul to collaborate together with the Pilsen architect Václav Neckář. While the layout of the five- to six-storey corner building was executed on the basis of Václav Neckář’s design, the design of the volumes and Modernist forms is based on Čermák and Paul’s plans. In it, the architects mixed elements of both rational and emotional Functionalism, which can be seen from the gentle curve of the Anglické nábřeží street frontage and the segmented bend of the courtyard prison wing, as well as a band of portholes in the upper part of the facades.

The facades are largely clad in West-Bohemian kaolin ceramic tiles: the architects applied a cream shade on the shallow oriels and brown on the parterre, including the receding corner, in which the main entrance is situated. With the offsetting of both street wings, the corner part of the building (in other cases often accentuated by an oriel, avant-corps or tower-like block) is distinct from the majority of interwar Pilsen architecture. In addition to the different colouring and surface textures of the facade, the architects also attempted to lighten the visually heavy mass of the huge building by means of a pattern of three-light windows, which in the section of the facade above the entrance are enlarged to resemble large French windows. The architects conceived the rear facades of both main masses and the courtyard wing much more dynamically, not only in the modelling of the volumes, but also in the application of a whole range of types and sizes of windows (including ribbon windows wrapping the segment of the courtyard wing) and their more varied composition.

The fourth and fifth floors and the loft of the building were damaged by air-raids towards the end of the Second World War, but already in the summer of 1945 restoration work was initiated. After the war, a commemorative plaque to fighters against Nazism was installed next to the main entrance to the building (which, as a temporary wartime headquarters of the Nazi secret police became known popularly as the "Gestapo"). The building has always retained its function as police headquarters, for which purpose the interiors were repeatedly modified during the course of subsequent decades, although the exterior, but for a few details, such as the replacement entrance door), has been preserved in its authentic late-1930s appearance.


LV – PK

Investor

Police Directorate and the City of Pilsen

Sources

  • Archiv Odboru stavebně správního, Technický úřad Magistrátu města Plzně
 
C0C1C2C3C4C5C6C7C8C9