Youth Home in Pilsen (Secondary School of Hospitality, Pilsen)
1947–1950

U Borského parku 1213/3 (Plzeň) Plzeň Jižní Předměstí
GPS: 49.7259218, 13.3669763
Architect:

One of the new buildings that arose in the southern part of the Bory district during the reconstruction and development of Pilsen after the Second World War was the Youth Home. The District Youth Care used a plot in today's U Borského parku Street, adjacent to the Masaryk Medical and Pedagogical Institute for Crippled Children in Pilsen (C6–1892), which was built for the District Youth Care in the years 1928–1929. Given the purpose of the aforementioned object, the location was valuable for being near a large park area (established in 1914 on the site of a former military training ground, and after the foundation of Czechoslovakia named Czech Legionnaires Park) and in close proximity to the terminal of one of the tram lines. The implementation of constructing the project of the Prague architect Rudolf Kosnar was started by local architect Vaclav Harmáček in 1947, however, after the nationalisation of the construction industry it was completed by the Czechoslovak Construction Works three years later.

The architect divided the over-50-metre-long, three-storey building into three operationally distinct parts. The section adjacent to the Masaryk Institute was dedicated to three-room flats for employees, accessible via a separate entrance. Its residential function was emphasised on the exterior by a shallow asymmetrical bay on the first and second floor, and a terrace, produced by the retraction of the top floor. This part of the building was thereby accorded a scale adequate for a standard terraced house. The elongated middle part with a regular pattern of square windows was reserved by Kosnar for youth rooms on the first to the third floors and to a spacious dining room and kitchen on the ground floor. The section closest to Politických Vězňů Street housed the common spaces as well as the main entrance with an eccentrically located supporting column on the ground floor and three floors of loggias. (The entrance location in the extreme section of the structure might be explained by the already-declared intention to expand the building with further rooms and a large hall in the future.) The different types of functions and the ingenuity of the architect were even more pronounced in the inventive concept of the courtyard facade, clearly referring to interwar Functionalism – a composition of rectangular windows of various sizes is complemented by large glass block panels illuminating the space of both staircases, three terraces and three circular, "nautical" windows. The project also reveals a contrast between the rough plaster of the parterre and the smooth surface of the remaining surface of the cladding.

Along with cellars, storage rooms, a laundry and a drying room, the basement also contained a workshop, an ironing room and a room where clothing repairs were carried out. Daylight streamed into these rooms through windows facing what was known as the English Courtyard. The boiler room was naturally lit by glass blocks in the pavement’s surface due to its area exceeding the ground plan’s boundaries. In addition to the dining room along with its adjoining kitchen and the now walled-in entrances, the ground floor also housed the caretaker's apartment and a reception with an office, a telephone room and a cloakroom. The architect located the main staircase in the courtyard wing opposite the main entrance. The role of a traditional middle load-bearing wall in the double-wing was, however, fulfilled by columns of reinforced concrete skeleton, complemented in the building both by load-bearing and non-bearing masonry structures and cement board partitions. The layouts of the first to third floors were almost identical – each middle section contained eight rooms with windows facing the street and a large through lounge, shared bathroom facilities and a small kitchen, both of which faced the courtyard. In the part above the main entrance there was always a reading room, laundry storage and the warden’s room.

In place of the originally planned second phase of construction, a new dormitory, a building with classrooms, and a gym and outdoor playground were annexed to the Youth Home in the courtyard in the 1960s. By connecting the new building on the ground floor and the third floor, the main entrance and a separate entrance to the section of employee flats no longer had any purpose and were walled up (finally concealed by the new clinker tiles on the ground floor). A similar fate befell the loggias above the former main entrance too; they were glazed over. Technical operational areas were modernised as well, and the employee apartments were adapted to apprentice bedrooms. Nevertheless, the basic layout of the building was preserved. Another reconstruction of the building, related to the construction of a new pavilion in the yard, was planned in the early 1980s but, like the aforementioned pavilion, is yet to be realised. Currently, the entire complex with the object of the former Youth Home is used by the Secondary School of Hospitality.

The adjustments of the 1960s and the current, insensitively-chosen facade colours have considerably blurred the original elegance of the building related to the reform efforts of the avant-garde architects in the construction of educational facilities in interwar Czechoslovakia. These adaptations have denied the original sense of the facade segmentation to the purpose of the individual parts of the building – the only thing that serves as a reminder of the former entrance nowadays is a solitary pillar in a niche, deprived of its purpose.


OM – PK
 

Investor

District Youth Care – Youth Department in Pilsen (later the City National Committee – Technical Department, Department of Building Construction in Pilsen)

Sources

  • Archiv Odboru stavebně správního, Technický úřad Magistrátu města Plzně
 
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