Antonín Špalek’s apartment building
1933–1934

Mánesova 2052/2, (náměstí Českých bratří 2052/6) (Plzeň) Plzeň Jižní Předměstí
GPS: 49.7381373N, 13.3669388E

Undoubtedly one of the most outstanding Modern buildings on the square Náměstí Českých bratří is the Pilsen builder Antonín Špalek’s two-storey apartment building with a residential loft, erected in 1933–1934 at the intersection with Mánesova Street. Although the process of approval of the final appearance of the facade did not go through without the intervention of the City Council, the architect succeeded in pushing through a very impressive architectural design, whose main aesthetic qualities consist of the structural volume of the building itself and the different materials of the facade.

The exposed site on which the house was built raised complications due to the varied nature of the neighbouring buildings – both tall apartment houses on the square and low, one- and two-storey terraced houses on Mánesova Street. The author of the plans (most probably Antonín Špalek himself) achieved a fluid transition between these two areas by means of a rounded corner, emphasised by exposed brickwork, which creates a contrast with both of the smooth “Brizolit” rendered facades. Prominent sections of the facades projecting from the first and second floors attempt to suppress the excessive mass of the house to match the low buildings on Mánesova Street. The Modernist feel of the building is enhanced especially by the flat roof and loft, which is not seen very often in Pilsen architecture of the time.

The house held eight flats in all with various layouts – from the caretaker’s basement bed-sit to two- and three-roomed flats with bathrooms, kitchens and maids’ rooms on the ground floor, second floor and in the loft, to a luxury six-room apartment with a representative entrance lobby and a conservatory occupying the entire area of the first floor. Antonín Špalek tirelessly pursued the construction of a planned garage on the ground floor facing Mánesova Street, although the City Council repeatedly rejected it on grounds of aesthetics and road safety.

Today we can only regret that an intended mirror-reversed building that would have lined the entrance from the square Náměstí Českých bratří into Schwarzova Street was never built. What is fundamental, however, is that the house, but for a few shortcomings (locally crumbling render and graffiti on the parterre), remains to this day in an almost intact condition, and its original architectural qualities can be enjoyed by observers.

 


 

Investor

Antonín Špalek

Sources

  • Archiv Odboru stavebně správního, Technický úřad Magistrátu města Plzně
 
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