Heřman Konejl’s house
1930–1931

Erbenova 1930/8, Žižkova 1930/51 (Plzeň) Plzeň Jižní Předměstí
GPS: 49.7309533, 13.3681994

The extremely well-executed villa of the private Boys and Girls Trade School of Heřman Konejl became one of the first Functionalist buildings in the Bezovka villa neighbourhood in the early 1930s. It was by the then thirty-four-year old Pilsen architect Václav Neckář for a lot at the corner of Erbenova and Žižkova Streets on the south-eastern tip of the area. Since the rules of the time permitted only two above-ground floors with a mansard for the new development in Bezovka, the design by Neckář had to be assessed by the city building committee. Finally, its members concluded that the height of the house with a basement almost at ground level, an elevated ground floor, a first floor and an attic was in harmony with the surrounding houses and granted permission for the building to be realised. Thus, the builder Josef Pechman, co-owner of the Mandaus, Doubek, Pechman et al. building company, was able to start the construction work in the autumn of 1930 and finish it in the summer of the following year.

Václav Neckář designed Konejl’s villa in keeping with the Functionalist slogan of form following function; therefore, the morphology of the house is based on a well-thought-out operational and layout solution providing the villa’s residents with a quality living space including sufficient privacy. To comply with local conditions concerning the maximum height of the building, the architect placed a one-room caretaker's apartment in the basement along with a garage (with the garage door located towards Erbenova Street) and cellars. From the direction of the entrance gate the ground floor was accessible by a straight staircase in the north-east facade. From the vestibule a visitor continued along a few more steps into a large hall, from which a generous living room, facing the southwest and serving as a dining room as well, a terrace, a kitchen with food storage and also a pantry and toilet could be entered. The kitchen was adjoined by a maid’s room; both rooms oriented towards the street. The social (daytime), and the operational part of the ground floor continued into the private (night) zone upstairs with two bedrooms, a guest room, a dressing room and a bathroom with a toilet. From the hall one could enter the terrace or a staircase leading up to the attic, which served as a laundry and drying room and a store room. The flat roof of the first floor was conceived as a residential terrace.

Václav Neckář structured the body of the house according to the Modernist canon of simple cubic masses. However, he complemented the rational graded volumes and rectangular shapes with an element from the register of Emotional Functionalism – a semi-circular staircase avant-corps crowned with railings similar to those on a ship. The body of the characteristically light, almost white building was further lightened by several terraces and balconies, with dynamism added by mostly asymmetrically placed window openings. Neckář left large areas of facades bare, only small portions between three triplets of windows in the entrance facade, oriented towards Erbenova Street, were sunk shallow beneath the face of the facade. These windows lit up the kitchen and maid's room on the ground floor, the bathroom and the guest room upstairs and the drying room in the attic, whose volume confirmed the central composition of this part of the facade. The entrance area, sheltered together with the staircase by a subtle roof and fitted to a segmented avant-corps was suppressed in the composition by the architect. The large surface area of the southern section of the entrance facade, for which he designed a grid with a creeper, was broken up only by one window on the basement and the ground floor. Neckář deliberately disrupted the symmetrical layout of the facade perpendicular to Žižkova Street with several four-section windows by a similar pair of windows, placed above the corner. The north-western facade facing the garden was enlivened by one-storey risalits set up with terraces on their small flat roofs both on the basement and the ground floor. The lower one was connected to the garden by a straight staircase. He conceived the composition of the north-eastern facade distinctly asymmetrically as well, it is dominated by a semi-cylindrical staircase avant-corps with a large window. In addition to the house, Václav Neckář also designed the garden, front garden and fencing.

The villa of Heřman Konejl, preserved in its authentic form from the 1930s and heritage-listed since 2001, showcases cutting-edge Functionalist architecture, which compares favourably with the production of Bauhaus or the buildings in the Nový Dům colony in Brno, which Neckář had a chance to become acquainted with personally when he was presenting his designs at the Exhibition of Contemporary Culture there in 1928. The architect took advantage of this experience in the design of another one of his outstanding realisations in the 1920s and 1930s – the villa of Václav Ornst in Pilsen–Lochotín.

 

LV – PK
 

Investor

Heřman Konejl

Sources

  • Archiv Odboru stavebně správního, Technický úřad Magistrátu města Plzně
 
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