Municipal theatre warehouse
1922–1923

Kovářská 330/10, Budilova 330/2 (Plzeň) Plzeň Jižní Předměstí
GPS: 49.7469251N, 13.3698302E
Architect:

In 1910, the City of Pilsen bought the abandoned building of the former Škoda Engineering Works close to the Municipal Theatre in Tovární Street. Just under a year later, the building, which had been erected in the 1870s, was converted by the architect Karel Mastný into a warehouse for costumes and props and a theatre workshop. In August 1922, however, the warehouse caught fire and burned down to the foundations. The Pilsen Theatre thus irretrievably lost its entire stock and equipment. According to the contemporary press, on the day of the catastrophe the wooden shed of the Pocheova sawmill had been converted into a painting and carpentry room, and Josef Skupa and Karel Röschenthaler had immediately begun working on new stage scenery.

Despite the protests of the neighbouring house owners, the city administration decided shortly after the incident to erect a new warehouse on the burnt-out site. The expensive construction and interior fixtures ultimately cost the city more than two million crowns. The plans for the new theatre warehouse were drafted by the city architect Hanuš Zápal, while the planning documentation was drawn up by the construction company Müller & Kapsa. The Town Hall assigned the actual construction work to the company Mandaus, Doubek, Pechmann and Co., Builders in Pilsen. The building, next to Bohumil Panýrek’s freight forwarding and transport business (C2–1511), consists of three distinct parts: storage, workshops and residential space, which were separated from each other by fireproof walls and iron doors. By means of this sophisticated solution, Zápal tried to minimise the risk of spread of any repeat fire. The exterior of the building, however, has a coherent, unified look.

The theatre warehouse dominates the entire block. The complex of buildings faces the public space in Kovářská Street with a low two-storey building with chamfered corners and a sloped roof with dormers. The recessed gable wall on the main frontage created space for a pair of terraces above the main entrance and the transport entrance to the courtyard. The building held operational facilities, a one-room caretaker’s flat, the theatre archives, accounts office, rehearsal space and a smallish store for stage props and costumes. Zápal designed the central part of the theatre warehouse as a three-storey mass with a reinforced concrete frame. The ground floor housed a joinery workshop, drying room and drive-through passage. The first floor had rooms for storing smaller props and stage scenery, while the second floor, surmounted by a high reinforced concrete dome with a roof lantern, held a painting studio with a gallery walkway. The architect connected the individual floors in this part of the building with a special lift.

The street facade of this part of the building is broken by tall windows set one above the other in rows. The sills of the first-floor windows are aptly ornamented with theatrical mascarons. The monumental impression of the whole is reinforced especially by four pilasters facing diagonally outward, evoking the impression of a tall row of columns, on which is set a massive tiered entablature with a cornice carrying the segmented dome. The building terminates on the south end in a longitudinal, three-section, three-storey warehouse for scenery and furniture, and has reinforced concrete ceilings and roof trusses set in the still standing perimeter walls of the former engineering works. The envelope of the building, which together with an attic parapet conceals the low pitched roof, is accentuated on the ground floor with sober lesene frames. The remaining surface is symmetrically divided up by large rectangular windows with decorative chambranles with string courses above and below the windows (on the second floor shaped into concave waves) joining them into continuous rows. The facade facing the present-day Budilova Street has a band above the first floor decorated with the stucco inscription MĚSTSKÉ DIVADELNÍ SKLADIŠTĚ (Municipal Theatre Warehouse), one of the unobtrusive Cubist-Art Deco details of the envelope.

After the war, the building was not maintained and fell into disrepair. In the 1970s the warehouse was in such a derelict state that the city was compelled to ensure at least the most essential repairs of the exterior to prevent risk of human injury. Fortunately, the building underwent quality reconstruction in 2000 and was subsequently listed as a cultural monument. It serves its purpose to this day.


AK
 

Investor

City of Pilsen

Sources

  • Archiv Odboru stavebně správního, Technický úřad Magistrátu města Plzně
 
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