House of Jiřina and Josef Skupa
1933–1934

Politických vězňů 2044/44 (Plzeň) Plzeň Jižní Předměstí
GPS: 49.7265669N, 13.3690092E

The prominent Czech puppeteer and founder of the Theatre of Spejbl and Hurvínek, Josef Skupa, left his teaching career in 1930 to start an artistic one. Shortly thereafter, he decided to build his own apartment building, part of which was to be used as a workshop and a warehouse for props for his theatre. Together with his wife Jiřina they bought land from the Štilip family on Žitná Street (now Politických Vězňů Street) in 1931 near Borský Park. A project for a two-storey terraced house already existed and the building permit had been issued (the author of the design could have been the Pilsen architect Antonín Kurel or maybe Josef Tyl, "a master mason in Pilsen"). It was supposed to be a traditionally solved building with a simple brizolit facade, animated by a bay window on the first floor, with a conventional two-wing disposition. The Skupas had the project modified and realised under the builder Antonín Štipl in 1933–1934.

There were two basements in the object: the lower one housing cellars; the upper one – the mezzanine – the workshop and warehouse of props, the main entrance and the passage that also served as a makeshift garage (the original iron entrance doors and drive-through gates have remained preserved to this day). An office and two apartments with a total of three living rooms facing the street were located on the elevated ground floor.

The Skupas lived in a large, atypical apartment on the first floor, with formal solutions (lowered ceilings, translucent walls) and furnishings (built-in wardrobes, furniture made of steel tubes) reminiscent of the interiors designed by Adolf Loos and his colleagues. The most important space in the apartment was the living room connected with the dining area and a resting area, together occupying almost the entire street tract; in the remaining part a small bedroom was situated. A mural World of Puppets by Jiří Trnka, whom Skupa met during a school competition, was located above the sofa in the dining area. Apart from the kitchen, bathroom and maid’s quarters (located in the courtyard tract), the apartment also had a darkroom. As the Skupa’s marriage was childless, there were no more living rooms in the apartment. It is not known to this day who the author of the apartment adaptation project was, but given the exceptional artistic talent of Josef Skupa, we can assume that he participated in the architectural concept of an almost scenic character himself. The most important parts of the apartment have been preserved till the present day.

A small studio apartment was available on the first floor of the northern part of the courtyard wing. Part of the loft was used by Josef Skupa as storage for his puppetry props. In 1938, he had a reinforced concrete air-raid shelter built in the house, accessible by an emergency corridor and staircase from the courtyard. The last substantial construction alterations were made to the building in 1989, when the ground floor was adapted into a spacious two-bedroom apartment. The house retains its original architectural expression of the early 1930s, including the wooden windows and the aforementioned metal door or gate of the passage.

 


 

Investor

Josef and Jiřina Skupa

Sources

  • Archiv Odboru stavebně správního, Technický úřad Magistrátu města Plzně
 
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