Leo Meisl’s apartment building
1936–1938

Na Belánce 2185/6 (Plzeň) Plzeň Jižní Předměstí
GPS: 49.7390336N, 13.3717061E
Architect:

Unquestionably one of the most valuable buildings on Na Belánce from an architectural perspective is apartment house No. 6 erected in 1936–1938 and designed by the Pilsen architect Leo Meisl. The talented architect of Jewish origin reacted in his design to the so-called “emotional” or “poetic” trend in European Functionalism, which took into account the aesthetic and psychological effects of architecture and which is rarely to be found in Pilsen, one example being the nearby apartment and commercial building of the builder Josef Špalek Sr. (C3–2074), also designed by Meisl. With his use of round, porthole-like windows in the facade of the house, Meisl also ranked himself among the admirers of the inherent beauty of ocean steamships and industrial buildings, which had been discussed by architecture theorists in the 1920s.

Meisl drafted the first plans for this six-storey apartment house in July 1936, while the site was still the property of the original owner, Zdenka Ledererová. At the time, Meisl sketched a basic design of the street-side facade – overall dark ceramic tiling was divided on the central axis by a slightly elevated light vertical band of “Brizolit" render with five porthole windows, behind which the stairwell was to be concealed. In the first phase of the plans, the courtyard facade was also supplied in the central axis with generously protruding paired balconies, which nevertheless created a subtle impression due to the narrow dividing partitions. The final form differed from the design only in details.

Shortly after the construction firm of Tomáš Keclík had launched the building work, however, Meisl himself became the investor, assigned the construction work to the Pilsen builder Otakar Prokop and modified parts of the plans: he lowered the side sections of the street-side facade to the height of the cornice of the adjacent corner house, while slightly indenting the middle rendered band. On the courtyard facade he added a balcony also to the apartments in the residential part of the roof construction. He enhanced the street-side facade with an unobtrusive variation on the tiling, consisting of ceramic relief blocks lining the main entrance to the building, and with rounded, light-coloured tiling of the reveals of the extra large French windows on the second, third and fourth floors. He set the windows on the first and fifth floors, on the contrary, almost flush with the facade.

The house contained a total of twenty small, economically arranged, one-room flats. On each floor there were four of these and another two, mirror reversed, in the habitable loft space. The house was also equipped with a modern passenger elevator. The architect paid close attention to the modern architectural concept of the stairwell space, some features of which (a steel tube balustrade and porthole windows in the lift doors) again referred to nautical symbolism and evoked the ambience of ship cabins.

The original idea of building an identical, mirror reversed building on the adjacent plot (No. 8), with a mirrored version of house No. 4 next door to it at No. 10, was ultimately not realised. Meisl's apartment house is today the best conserved of his buildings, which is one of the reasons why it was listed as a cultural monument in 2004.

 


 

Investor

Zdenka Ledererová / Leo Meisl

Monument preservation

KP – Central Cultural Heritage List (ÚSKP) No.: 101256

Sources

  • Archiv Odboru stavebně správního, Technický úřad Magistrátu města Plzně
  • Jiří Fořt, Změny v názvech plzeňských ulic a náměstí v průběhu novodobých dějin a jejich historická podmíněnost (bakalářská práce), katedra historie FPE ZČU, Plzeň 2012.
 
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