Josef Špalek’s apartment and office building
1932

Mánesova 1999/1 (Plzeň) Plzeň Jižní Předměstí
GPS: 49.7381962N, 13.3673733E

The first of a pair of corner apartment houses of the Pilsen builders Josef and Antonín Špalek on the intersection of the square Náměstí Českých bratří and Mánesova Street was erected in 1932 on the eastern side of the square. Construction of the two-storey apartment and office building with a residential loft was initiated by Josef Špalek Sr., Antonín’s father, and two years later it was appropriately complemented by the corner house opposite (C3–2052). Unlike the later building, the composition of which is closer to the adjacent terraced houses, No. 1 Mánesova Street creates, with its scale and simpler solution of volume, a distinctive watershed between the space of the square and the street frontage. Furthermore, due especially to its flat roof, it can be regarded as the first truly Modernist building in the area of Náměstí Českých bratří.

The house makes an impression at first sight with its unconventional concept of a cut-out corner, complemented on the level of each of the above-ground floors with artistically rounded balconies. The varied shapes and sizes of the individual windows betray the different functions of the rooms behind them. The raised ground floor is clearly dominated by large split windows, because here there were originally four offices. Situated on the first and second floors were large four-room flats spread over the area of the whole floor. In view of the fact that the service areas of these flats (kitchens, larders and maids’ rooms) were unconventionally situated in the front section of the house facing Thámova Street (instead of the courtyard section), the windows in this part are narrow and small. Facing Mánesova Street, on the contrary, were representative rooms, and the windows here are therefore bigger. The residential loft contained a smaller, three-room flat facing Thámova Street and service spaces (an attic and laundry-drying room), whose position is betrayed on the opposite side by narrow ribbon windows. Another prominent feature is a vertical niche above the main entrance, also with low ribbon windows, behind which is the stairwell.

In the war years of 1940–1941, an extension was added to the house on the Thámova Street side. The new section contained two garages on the street side, small three-room flats on the ground floor and first floor and on the second floor lodgings with common hygienic facilities in the corridor. The facade of this extension is distinguished by a formal concept typical for Pilsen – a combination of smooth “Brizolit” rendering on the central projecting section of the facade and light ceramic tiling on each side of it and on the window reveals.

Following the later construction of a roof superstructure and repainting of the facades in contrasting colours, the house has lost its original Modernist appearance. Nonetheless, it is still interesting for its unconventional concept of the complicated volumes of the structure.

 


 

Investor

Josef Špalek Sr.

Sources

  • Archiv Odboru stavebně správního, Technický úřad Magistrátu města Plzně
 
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