Nursery for Škoda Works employees
1948–1951

Schwarzova 2329/4 (Plzeň) Plzeň Jižní Předměstí
GPS: 49.737855N, 13.365274E

In 1947–1948, in the context of the two-year economic recovery plan for Czechoslovakia, plans were drafted not only for apartment houses in Arbesova Street (C3–2322) for employees of the Škoda Engineering Works (Škodovy závody) in Pilsen, but also for a nursery for their children, which was constructed according to standardised plans supplied by the then Ministry for Social Welfare. The tried and tested design, implemented also in other places in Czechoslovakia (the Prague suburb of Kbely, Strakonice, Střekov in Ústí nad Labem, Pardubice and Úpice), was drafted by the well-known Functionalist architect František Albert Libra, who in the postwar period focused on plans for social and healthcare facilities.

A quiet site was selected for the nursery within a semi-closed, large housing block earmarked for the planned development of Schwarzova Street and the square Náměstí Českých bratří. The southeast facing two-storey building with a two-section layout was set on an irregular oblong ground plan that consistently mirrored the functions of the individual zones, divided according to children’s ages (the first department for babies up to 10 months old was on the first floor, the second and third departments from children from 10 to 18 months and 18 months to 3 years respectively were on the ground floor). The architect set the play areas and bedrooms with adjacent spacious terraces with wooden railings on the sunny south side of the building and the operational facilities and other amenities facing the northwest. The first floor also contained the caretaker’s four-room flat, separated from the operational spaces of the nursery.

The Modernist feel of the building is dictated not only by its rational, economical concept, but also by the construction elements used, such as large plate glass windows and French windows supplying sufficient daylight and fresh air to the interiors in line with the lifestyle requirements of the time and a mono-pitched roof with an overhang above the first-floor terrace supported by wooden columns, thus protecting it from the elements and allowing taking the children outdoors even in inclement conditions.
The plans also dedicated considerable attention to the landscaping of the gardens and the planting of greenery. The grounds also had large sandboxes and a pair of paddling pools directly connected to the drains.

Today used as a kindergarten, the Pilsen nursery is certainly one of the best preserved of the aforementioned group designed by Libra and is rightly listed as a cultural heritage site of the Czech Republic. The building has retained its authenticity not only in terms of the intact overall mass (with the exception of a small wooden lean-to), but also a range of details, especially the original articulation of the wooden doors and window frames, which is essential for the architectural character of the building as a whole. The present-day colour of the facades does not, however, correspond to the original. The former dark ochre was substituted in 2008–2013 by two brighter pastel shades.

 


 

Investor

Škodovy závody Plzeň (Škoda Engineering Works)

Sources

  • Archiv Odboru stavebně správního, Technický úřad Magistrátu města Plzně
  • Matěj Páral, Ústí nad Labem - Střekov, okres Ústí nad Labem, Ústecký kraj, jesle č. p. 1094, katalogový list objektu, Metainformační systém NPÚ 2007
 
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