Building of the Czechoslovak State Grammar School
1923–1926

Klatovská třída 1736/51, Stehlíkova 1736/1 (Plzeň) Plzeň Jižní Předměstí
GPS: 49.7365147N, 13.3708816E

After its independence in 1920, the Czechoslovak State Grammar School in Pilsen sought to obtain an adequate, modern equipped space for its operations, because the existing teaching took place in rooms set aside for this purpose in six different public buildings that served as makeshift classrooms. In the new Czechoslovak Republic, the state supported the construction of schools and other public institutions, and so the Pilsen institute managed to obtain a building permit from the Ministry of Public Works for a state-owned plot bounded by the present-day Klatovská Avenue and Edvard Beneš and Stehlíkova Streets in 1923. The only neighbour then was the historicist building of the primary school from 1897 on the southern side of Chodské Square.

The project of the grammar school was designed by the architect and city planner Jaroslav Rössler, a student of Jan Kotěra and Friedrich Ohmann, in cooperation with the lesser-known architect Jan Feigl. At that time, Rössler already had experience in designing school buildings, namely from Brno where he designed the building of the Czech Trade Academy for a similar corner plot in 1921, whose mass solution with slightly protruding avant-corps he loosely followed in Pilsen.

The architects conceived the three-storey building as a double-tract of an approximate letter T ground plan, to which they obliquely connected the single-storey gym building along Edvard Beneš Street. Its front façade with three segment windows faced the yard, used as a summer training ground (however, just at this point of the façade, a one-storey structure lining Edvard Beneš Street was added to the gym in the late 1970s). The authors successfully resolved the main entrance area with a columned portico by a slight indentation of the right wing of the building on the corner of Klatovská Avenue and Stehlíkova Street, creating a small open space in front of it. Originally, a sculpture of a professor and a student by the academic sculptor Jan Jiříkovský stood there, however it was removed during the era of the Socialist regime because of the alleged similarities the professor’s face bore to that of T.G. Masaryk. The main entrance was followed by a representative staircase hall – the central space of the building, from which all three wings departed orthogonally. The classrooms as well as professors’ offices and libraries faced Klatovská Avenue; the left section of this wing on the first floor housed the director’s spacious apartment with a separate entrance from the street. Part of the campus was also a school botanical garden.

The facade of Pilsen Grammar School is, unlike the Rössler-designed Brno school with a great amount of what was known as the National style, characterised by a sober architectural approach with minimum relief decor (abstracted armatures of the risalits; cornices, entrance portals, fields between windows); the Decorativist influence is more evident in the interior of the building. The shell of the building is clearly dominated by large windows letting plenty of light and fresh air into the interior, which was a feature systematically promoted by architects of that time. For that matter, the issue of modern and "healthy" school buildings is very typical of the entire first half of the 20th century, as evidenced by numerous articles in period professional journals (Architektonický obzor / “Architectural skyline”, Styl / “Style”, Stavba / “Construction” and Stavitel / “Builder”). This debate was mainly related to the enforcement of new requirements for external and internal organisation of schools which distanced themselves from the hitherto model known as the "Passive School". Among those theorising architects, Ferdinand Havlíček excelled, being, among other things, co-author of the building of Pilsen Grammar School on Mikulášské Square from the years 1912 to 1914.

At the turn of the 1980s and 1990s, a two-storey building with a gym on the ground floor and graphic studios with an art hall on the first floor was built on the site of the former botanical garden on Stehlíkova Street.

Today, the building is used by the Faculty of Education of the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen.

 

Investor

The building committee of the new building of the State Grammar School in Pilsen

Sources

  • Jan Zeman, Urbanistický rozvoj lokality Plzeň-Bory (v první polovině 20. století), nepublikovaná bakalářská práce, Katedra historie PdF ZČU v Plzni, Plzeň 2013
  • Archiv města Plzně
  • Archiv Odboru stavebně správního, Technický úřad Magistrátu města Plzně
 
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