Semi-detached houses of the Trade-Civic Building and Housing Cooperative for Pilsen and Surrounds

Hruškova 1636, 1637, 1642, 1643 / 12, 14, 24, 26, Mánesova 1633, 1632, 1630, 1631 / 68, 66, 56, 58 (Plzeň) Plzeň Jižní Předměstí
GPS: 49.7333486N, 13.3675825E

The block between Hruškova, Čermákova and Mánesova Streets in the residential area Bezovka saw the emergence of an analogy to today's building developments in the early 1920s. The builders of the houses were the Trade-Civic Building and Housing Cooperative for Pilsen and the surrounding area, and the registered union in Pilsen of the brothers Josef and Václav Pašek. The brothers were also the authors of the building plans and Václav Pašek, who held the office of town councillor at that time, was the one to subsequently realise the houses. In Bezovka, the construction of the brothers’ cooperative was concentrated on the aforementioned housing block, however there are other objects associated with their names in the area. The projects of individual houses were designed as a type, as combinations, variations of or additions to the default type then produced – detached, semi-detached and terraced houses.

The semi-detached houses no. 12–14 a 24–26 on Hruškova Street were built according to the design of the Pašek brothers of May 1922, between June of the same year and October 1923. From the outside, the buildings give the impression of being two separate villas. The interior spatial layout, mostly preserved to this day, also reflects generosity – the central staircase hall occupies almost a third of the area of both above-ground floors, partially at the expense of rooms of which there are only two on each floor. The staircase hall is the most interesting and most valuable part of the house interior; its dominant feature being a wooden staircase which corresponds with the exposed beam ceiling. The below-roof spaces served as an attic. Nowadays you can find some of the residential rooms illuminated by skylights.

The exterior architectural forms of the house refer to the early (geometric) Modern, influenced by the Cubism and National styles. The facades are complemented by polygonal bay windows both on the front, street side and the lateral, garden side. In the area of the side bay an external double staircase was originally designed from which the central hall of the house was entered. However, due to later renovations it was only preserved in houses nos. 12 and 26. The whole semi-detached house is cupped with a single-hipped roof, originally covered in flat clay tiles. The protruding bays are finished with “onion” semi-domes at the level of the gutters, covered with tin, behind which gables are embedded. On house no. 12, the simple geometric facade made from Brizolit is complemented by a quartet of decorative paintings – stylised still lives with baskets of fruit and vegetable acanthus scrolls. These decorative elements are located on the southeast garden facade behind the entrance to the house.

The garden space is separated from the street by a fence with small brick pillars and wooden vertical panels; on the site of the entrance gate a decorative arch lintel was made according to an original design.

The Trade-Civic Building and Housing Cooperative for Pilsen and Surrounds was one of the entities engaged in solving the housing crisis in Pilsen. It focused mainly on the lower and middle civil service strata of the population, who demanded not only standard flats in apartment houses, but also private family houses and semi-detached houses. Emblematic of their building production is the cooperative semi-detached house no. 66–68, built on Mánesova Street in the residential area Bezovka in the early 1920s. For its implementation the cooperative made use of special building conditions and state aid provided under the new law in force from January 1922. On the ground floor both sections of the house had a staircase hall entered by a lateral main entrance, a living room facing the street and a kitchen with facilities for the maid located towards the garden. Another two smaller bedrooms and a bathroom were situated on the first floor.

Probably due to the limited funds of the cooperative, the project of the facade underwent major changes. The original ornamental type design by Josef and Václav Pašek, applied for example in the nearby semi-detached house no. 56–58, was rid of any decorative elements, probably under the direction of the architect and builder Antonín Štipl. The house received a completely smooth Brizolit plaster divided horizontally between the ground floor and the first floor by a distinctive relief strip running continuously along the house even over the protruding risalits. Plaster surfaces are suitably completed by exposed bare brick walls in the window frames and on the continuous relief strip beneath the cornice, in detail it also appears at the main entrance awning. Another distinctive construction feature is the relatively massive plastered boarding running beyond the roof, which consistently pursues the ground plan of the house including the segmental and refracted shapes of the risalits.

The semi-detached house is in a well-maintained condition nowadays. However, appreciation of the building as a united architectural whole is unfortunately impeded by the different colours of window frames in individual sections.

The two-storey building with a hipped roof was designed and realised by the building company of the brothers Josef and Václav Pašek as a semi-detached family house with symmetrically solved layouts, two separate entrances and porches. The street facade of the house of an austere cubic shape is dominated by a pair of twice broken risalits topped above the main cornice by rounded roofs, inserted into triangular gables. The design’s authors accentuated these with a frame and inserted a slender attic pillar whose decor refers to the so-called Syrian arc at the site of their intersection. Arched risalits with the roof and gable, introducing the entrances, were then placed at the centre of both side facades. The vertical effect of the risalits broken by narrow rectangular windows with bare brick jambs was emphasised by relief geometric framing. These subtle elements were also applied on the surfaces of other facades. The current state of the building attests to the disparity of plans to perform maintenance and minor adaptations to the individual halves of this semi-detached house.


LR – AŠ – PB


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