Koranda Congregation apartment buildings
1937–1938

Prokopova 2219, 397 / 19, 17 (Plzeň) Plzeň Jižní Předměstí
Public transport: Prokopova
GPS: 49.7428914N, 13.3791781E

In 1936, the Pilsen Eastern Congregation of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren, called the Koranda Congregation, completed the construction of a new chapel with an adjacent apartment house on the embankment Anglické nábřeží, designed by the architect Jaroslav Fišer (C1–2142). Although the congregation got into considerable debt through the project, it had to continue with its building activities, because it had concluded an exchange agreement with the City in 1927, in which it committed to develop not only part of Anglické nábřeží, but also sites in Prokopova Avenue. If the congregation did not fulfil its contractual obligation by the end of 1938, the City would have the right to repossess the sites.

The construction of the two houses with small rental flats was again initiated by the pastor Karel Machotka, whose wish was to develop around the church a peaceful Evangelical community. Due to its difficult financial situation, the congregation delayed launching construction work until the issuance of a new implementing regulation of the Act on the Construction Industry, which would ensure a beneficial loan from the state as well as several years of tax exemption on the new buildings. The plans for the apartment and commercial buildings were drafted in 1937, again by Jaroslav Fišer, whose construction firm also won the tender for the building work. The Koranda Congregation insisted on completion of both buildings by no later than December 1938 under penalty of considerable fines.

The construction of the buildings, which in compliance with the demands of the Elders was done only by Czech Brethren workers and sub-contractors, was approved by the authorities in August and December 1937. The first house, No. 17, standing next to the so-called “Skyscraper” (C1–1697) on the site of the former municipal baths, was already completed in June 1938. The next door No. 19 erected on the site of the former Tradesmen’s Assembly Hall, was completed on 30 December 1938.

The architect designed both buildings as axially symmetric and their interior layouts are also identical. The street-side section of the ground floor, facing Prokopova Avenue with plate glass display windows, was reserved for commercial purposes. Apart from four shops, each of the buildings had a total of 23 one-room and two-room flats with amenities. The Koranda Congregation wanted to lease the flats preferentially to its own members, Czech Brethren workers, and from the yields to gradually pay off the debts incurred by construction of the whole Evangelical complex. Following the Munich Agreement, some of the flats were offered for rent to refugees from the occupied border regions.

Fišer’s buildings for the Koranda Congregation represent very high quality examples of Pilsen Functionalist architecture. In this case utility and functionality were the primary requirements of the client. The austere facade of each of the houses is therefore divided only by an expansive oriel with a regular pattern of combined rectangular windows, the reveals of which are emphasised by ceramic tiles. The flat roofs of the two oriels provided space for narrow terraces with elegant steel-tube railings. According to the architect’s concept plans of 1934, the buildings in the Evangelical complex, with the exception of the chapel, were to have flat roofs. The apartment houses in Prokopova Avenue, however, have traditional pitched roofs.

In November 1938, the congregation had a monumental gold chalice, taken from the nearby Hus House (descriptive No. 206), mounted on the upper part of the street frontage between the two buildings. In early January 1938, Jaroslav Fišer bought the Hus House from the congregation and extended it in the garden facing the Radbuza River with a single-storey building with a terrace, into which he moved his architectural studio.

With the completion of the apartment houses in Prokopova Avenue, Pastor Karel Machotka’s concept of an idyllic Evangelical settlement around the church was almost fulfilled. Unfortunately, large debts and the subsequent political situation following the establishment of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia put a stop to the Koranda Congregation’s construction activities and another house on Anglické nábřeží and a social hall in the courtyard to the south of the chapel remained unrealised.
 

AK

Investor

Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren, Eastern Congregation in Pilsen

Sources

  • Jakub Šlouf, Projekt přestavby Korandova sboru v Plzni 1918–1938, publikováno 2007, vyhledáno 1. 2. 2015. (http://www.koranduvsbor.cz/UserFiles/file/Koranduv_sbor_KubaSlXX.pdf)
  • Nové stavby v Plzni, Več. Čes. Slovo, 1937, 3. 8.
  • Archiv Odboru stavebně správního, Technický úřad Magistrátu města Plzně
 
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