Czechoslovak Radio Building
1947–1953 / 1956

náměstí Míru 2363/10 (Plzeň) Plzeň Jižní Předměstí
GPS: 49.7307361N, 13.3727339E

While attempts to establish an independent radio station in the West Bohemian metropolis date from as early as the 1920s, the symbolic launch date of radio broadcasting in Pilsen is regarded as 5 May 1945. At that time, the partisans and local amateur radio enthusiasts succeeded in occupying the Nazi-run radio station in Obzina (today part of Štruncovy sady) and at 12:37 pm the voice of the later radio director Karel Šindler could be heard announcing: “Pilsen calling, free Pilsen calling”. The radio station acquired its first sizeable spaces in Škroupova Street and later in the former Reček Sanatorium in Skrétova Street. At the time, a gym in Americká Street served the radio orchestra as a recording studio. It soon became clear, though, that the ever-growing West Bohemian station needed its own building with appropriate technical facilities. The former SK Olympia football ground on the north-eastern side of the square Náměstí Míru in the neighbourhood of the Institute for Deaf and Dumb Children (today Purkyně Pavilion) – a Functionalist building erected in 1928–1931 according to plans by Hanuš Zápal (C3–1926) – was chosen as the site for the new building. An architectural competition was announced in 1946 and was won by a collective led by Karel Tausenau, which included František Hurta and Václav Pavelka, together with the acoustics experts R. Haisinger and E. Němcová.

The building, comprising two underground and three above-ground floors, was meant to be built in three stages. In the last stage an independent concert hall was to be built. First, in 1947–1953, the L-shaped west wing was built, to which was joined the rectangular eastern part, opened for use in 1956, and ten years later a garage extension was added. The concert hall was never built. In 1949, however, Czechoslovak Radio had already completed a late Functionalist residential house for its employees in nearby Čechova Street No. 28 (C3–2303).

The architectural morphology of the radio complex was still based on the ideals of interwar Functionalism, which is apparent both from the actual spatial concept of the building with separate functional areas, lively handling of the masses and flat roofs with recreational terraces, and from the characteristic ribbon windows in the facades, vertical window panes illuminating the stairwells and enlivening the predominantly horizontally conceived masses, and the light-coloured ceramic tiling of the facades, which unifies the look of the whole complex. Given the purpose of the building, special demands were naturally placed on the acoustics. The architects handled the task not only by means of consistent separation of the areas for individual operations (administrative, programming, technical), which restricted incidental noise, but also by the use of a unique construction system: the two largest recording studios, measuring 1,350 and 1,500 m2, were erected on ferro-concrete columns and encased in a shell of double walls and ceilings. In the middle of the sandwich shell was a vacuum layer to ensure acoustic insulation of the spaces. Apart from the advanced acoustic design, the radio building also had the most modern technical equipment, including air-conditioning and hot-air heating of the recording studios.

The Pilsen Radio Building, alongside the architect Bedřich Rozehnal’s Children’s Hospital in Brno (1947–1954), is one of the finest examples of late Czech Functionalism, a Modernist concept coming to a close at a time when the first buildings and housing estates in the spirit of imposed Socialist Realism were growing in Pilsen and other Czech cities. For that reason the new building was criticised on its completion by contemporary architects, both for its architectural morphology and its setting in the urban unit of Náměstí Míru. The rhetoric of the time cannot, however, conceal the fact that the building enhanced the generous space of the square, which includes along its perimeter several quality examples of interwar architecture, with the addition of a valuable Functionalist element.

The building, which in addition to Czech Radio is also used by the Pilsen Philharmonic Orchestra, has undergone many partial reconstructions. Nevertheless, it has retained a range of original features and in 2002 was listed as a cultural monument.

 

LV
 

Investor

Czechoslovak Radio (Československý rozhlas)

Sources

  • Michal Krištof, Historie Českého rozhlasu Plzeň a jeho nahrávací činnost (bakalářská práce), FPE ZČU, Plzeň 2013.
 
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