Antonín Vaska’s apartment building with shops
1930–1931

Doudlevecká 417/17 (Plzeň) Plzeň Jižní Předměstí
GPS: 49.7394461N, 13.3797969E

In 1930, the owner of a thriving electrical company Antonín Vaska had a project undertaken by the Pilsen architect and builder Rudolf Pěchouček for the complete reconstruction of a Baroque merchant house at no. 17 Doudlevecká Avenue. Pěchouček’s reconstruction was truly radical – the originally one-storey building was extended by two floors, thus elevating its mass dramatically above the surrounding low development that is characteristic of the traditional business connection between the city centre and the Doudlevce district until the present day. The local significance of Vaska’s and Pěchouček’s Modernist act is no way diminished by the fact that compared with several blocks of terraced houses and a complex of large cooperative housing buildings which were realised in this area gradually from the 1920s on, this was only an “acupuncture” intervention.

The facade of Functionalist forms is dominated by a central two-storey bay, girded by a ribbon window on the first and second floors and topped off by a balcony with a full railing. While the first floor was originally accentuated by ceramic cladding, the second and third floors are decorated by a shallow wall frame of a lighter shade; the retracted surfaces are then fitted with large windows. Above the crown moulding which separates the mass of the building from the sloped roof, an attic bay with a window illuminating the attic space completes the composition of the main facade. This minor element, in whose terraced shape Modern merges with Neo Classicism, does not correspond – just as is the case with the gable roof – with the orthodox concept of Functionalism, yet it impersonates the usually moderate, deliberate, soft, face of Pilsen Modernist architecture.

The street tract of the ground floor housed a shop of Vaska’s electrical company with large glass display windows; offices were oriented towards the courtyard. Administrative offices and storerooms were located on the first floor. The author of the design located five one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments with kitchens and accessories on the second and third residential floors. The loft served as a communal laundry and attic. The free area of both plastered elevated gables was used by Antonín Vaska for a distinct advertising sign: Elektrozávody. The design including typography was made by the builder Pěchouček. The building and business cooperative Plzeň, chaired by Pěchouček, also designed the warehouse building accessible through the passage at the northern front of the apartment building. The facade of the utilitarian building is divided only by standardised double windows, which are situated on the first floor in a single running cornice.

Although Vaska’s house has recently received a new coat of perhaps not the most fortunate hues, it has retained many original features and ultimately its overall character, which is an example of good-quality Functionalist architecture of Pilsen provenance.

LV – PK
 

Investor

Antonín Vaska

Sources

  • Archiv Odboru stavebně správního, Technický úřad Magistrátu města Plzně
 
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