Masaryk Medical and Pedagogical Institute for Crippled Children in Pilsen
1928–1929

Klatovská třída 1892/145 (Plzeň) Plzeň Jižní Předměstí
GPS: 49.7262614N, 13.3664842E

The establishment and running of humanitarian and social institutions was one of the main tasks for the public administration of the newly-formed Czechoslovak Republic. Initiatives started to emerge in Pilsen after 1918 as well for constructing modern, adequately equipped buildings of various institutions of this kind: an orphanage, a shelter for mothers, convalescent homes, homes for social care, institutes for the deaf, hospitals, schools and others.

In the case of the Department for Crippled Children, founded at the initiative of Doctor Robert Nebeský at the District youth welfare authority in Pilsen in 1920, there were efforts to construct a building for it right from the outset. The Department, which in 1921 to mark the occasion of the visit by T.G. Masaryk established the Masaryk Institute for Crippled Children, was forced to use a former school for war invalids in Bory as temporary premises, which could not meet the demands of the institution’s operation or the modern requirements for the care of residents, nor of an ideal building programme and environment for these types of buildings, as was debated in architectural periodicals at the time.

Robert Nebeský, the Department’s secretary and the chief physician of the Institute, presented his own sketch of the new building in March 1923, which was subsequently elaborated in detail by the successful Pilsen builders Josef and Václav Pašek. However, neither the city council ("for aesthetic reasons among other things") nor the Ministry of Health (mainly due to its unsuitable layout) agreed with their project, which described the building as a sumptuous municipal palace. For this reason, early in 1926 Hanuš Zápal, an employee of the Building Authority, created a new design, which was further elaborated by the firm of the Pašek brothers, although they did not consider the entire proceedings objective, raised several objections and suspected Hanuš Zápal of favouritism.

During the construction phase, led by Josef Pechmann of the construction company Mandaus, Doubek, Pechmann et al., the Department faced a shortage of funds, and there was a real threat of construction being halted. Therefore, the department sought to acquire the necessary finances not only through public administration subsidies, but also through the sale of art postcards, for which the Pilsen native painter and illustrator Hugo Böttinger, also known under the pseudonym Dr.Desiderius as a cartoonist, provided eight drawings free of charge.

The flat-roofed two-storey building with a residential attic, situated on the corner of Klatovská Avenue and today's U Borského Parku Street (the adjacent park was then called Park of Czechoslovak Legionnaires), was equipped with a smooth Modernist facade with light plaster, articulated by simple ledge and crown mouldings, lesene frames and an inscription with the name of the institution. The architect designed the building on a layout that approximated a letter L shape with a protruding northern avant-corps, which produced a small "courtyard" with an adjacent corner front garden in front of the entrance portico.

The rationally and economically solved two wing layout of the building was based on the corner, where the architect placed the aforementioned main entrance with the half-turn staircase, a double lift and reception (due to the economical constraints of the project, a traditional spacious entrance vestibule, or at least a smaller ante-staircase in front of the stairs). Two narrow, yet sufficiently lit hallways ran from the corner into the two wings of the building. The ground and first floor of the arm facing Borský Park housed the medical department with surgeries, outpatient clinics, an operating room and radiography ward; in addition, there were classrooms, offices and staff facilities. The northern wing of the ground floor was reserved for the kitchen with a preparation room, supplying a small dining room for the staff upstairs, while upstairs there was a children’s dining room with preparatory room (dishes were transported here by a freight elevator from the kitchen downstairs) and mechanotherapy. Large-capacity dormitories for the residents, accompanied by a surveillance room and washrooms, occupied the entire second floor. The residential part of the attic, situated on the corner of the building, housed the storage of medical supplies, sterilisation, a small operating room, and rooms for the staff and for isolated patients. The remaining uncovered area of the attic was used as a sun terrace.

In 1960, the building was equipped with a huge neon advertising sign with the emblem of the globe, the logo of the Škoda Factory (Lenin Factory at the time) and a sign “From Pilsen all over the world”. The following year, the residential loft was renovated and extended – the site of the former sun deck was turned into two new bedrooms. Unlike the technical annexes in the yard from the years 1980–1982 (when the house was already used as a retirement home) and later extensions in the facade oriented to Klatovská Avenue, the construction works of the early 1960s respected the original architectural design of the building.

Currently, the building is used by the Pilsen Municipal Institute of Social Services, which operates the Home with the Special Regimen Sněženka.

 


 

Investor

District Care for the Youth, Crippled Children Department

Sources

  • Jan Zeman, Urbanistický rozvoj lokality Plzeň-Bory (v první polovině 20. století), nepublikovaná bakalářská práce, Katedra historie PdF ZČU v Plzni, Plzeň 2013
  • Archiv Odboru stavebně správního, Technický úřad Magistrátu města Plzně
 
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