Semi-detached houses of the People’s Building and Housing Cooperative in Pilsen

Družstevní 1655, 1656, 1657, 1658 / 10, 8, 6, 4, U Svépomoci 1665, 1664 / 6, 8 (Plzeň) Plzeň Jižní Předměstí
GPS: 49.7327702, 13.3662468

A pair of almost identical semi-detached houses on Družstevní Street, nos. 4–10, is part of two triangular blocks related in style that were realised in the Bezovka neighbourhood by the People's Building and Housing Cooperative in Pilsen in the early 1920s, during the First Republic building boom. They are Block I between Družstevní, Hruškova and Schwarzova Streets, and the adjacent Block II between Družstevní, Žižkova and U Svépomoci Streets. The latter three streets did not yet have their names at the time of planning, being still reminiscent of the cooperative past of this area.

The houses were built at the usual pace – the planning documentation, authorised by the Pilsen builder Karel Bubla, was completed in August 1922. The houses were approved for occupancy as early as in the autumn of the following year. In both blocks, semi-detached houses predominate, complemented by smaller detached houses and one apartment house. The entire administrative process associated with the construction (and related, among other things, to the law on the construction industry which the state introduced to support construction activities in an effort to quell the housing crisis of the time) was secured by the People’s Building and Housing Cooperative, whose members were the prospective homeowners at that time.

The planning documentation is substantially identical for both semi-detached houses on Družstevní Street; however, the projects of individual sections took into account the specific locations of the new buildings in the terrain and their connection to the surrounding land and to the street, which is elevated compared to the property itself. The project for planning permission also involved the design of a single fence, where bare brick pillars with a shaped head were complemented by wooden batten panels on a retaining wall.

Both semi-detached houses have an irregular T-shaped ground plan and consist of two axially symmetrical halves. Both entrances were designated by small stone staircases outside the street front. The vestibule led both to the stairs to the basement and the main staircase hall. There were two rooms on the ground floor at the time of construction, a kitchen with pantry and a maid's room. Upstairs, above the semi-circular wooden staircase, there were also two living rooms and a bathroom. The basement housed storage areas, as well as a laundry and an ironing room.

The morphology of the semi-detached houses, making use of older means of expression, is a clear manifestation of its inspiration from Classicist architecture. The two buildings share an articulated hip roof (two side ground-floor wings are covered by a hipped roof as well) with distinctive triangular gables, completed by a characteristic massive dentil around the perimeter. The dentil also serves as a decorative accent of the crown moulding. Both street corners are bevelled and topped with a segmented rise below the cornice – a detail unique to the residential district. Facades with structural cement plasters are framed by lesenes articulated by bossage and complemented with giant order pilasters with Corinthian capitals.

The value of the whole set rests, among other things, in its urbanist solution, which was, as was the case with the look of the houses themselves, negatively affected primarily by modern-day additions and extensions not respecting the mass or the artistic concept of the original architecture.

Similarly to the pair of nearly identical semi-detached houses on nearby Družstevní Street (C4–1655), the semi-detached house on U Svépomoci Street is also part of two blocks built in the villa colony Bezovka by the People's Building and Housing Cooperative in Pilsen (LBD) in the years 1922–1923. As in the previous case, the name of the Pilsen builder Karel Bubla is signed for the project of this building, which he realised as well.

The semi-detached house corresponds with its spatial layout and external forms to the aforementioned semi-detached houses on Družstevní Street nos. 4–10. They differ only in a more sober form of the capitals of pilasters in the main facade and the absence of dentil in the gable and below the crown moulding.

It is worth mentioning that in the area of the staircase in the southern half of the house (no. 8) there is a painting of Mařenka from Smetana's Bartered Bride – the work of Pilsen’s František Václav Eisenreich dedicated to the homeowner Václav Kopp and his wife, the prominent Pilsen opera singer Ella Noemi Kopp.



People’s Building and Housing Cooperative


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