Reconstruction and extension of František Rajnoch’s house and extension of factory buildings of F. Dezort company, a factory for car bodies and armatures
1929 / 1947

Zborovská 90/2 (Plzeň) Plzeň Doudlevce
GPS: 49.7294345, 13.3818358

The set of three residential and industrial sites located at the point where Doudlevecká Avenue passes into Zborovská Street has a colourful construction history. The originally single-storey apartment house with partial cellars and the adjacent two-storey building date back to the last decade of the 19th century. In the first half of the 1920s, the buildings belonged to Barbora Hrabětová, who had an outbuilding in the yard converted into a makeshift carpentry workshop in 1923.

In 1929, the new owner, František Rajnoch, director of the Pilsen branch of the Bata company, commissioned a project to convert the ground floor of the residential building into a company store and an inn; the project also involved a first-floor extension with three apartments. Considering Rajnoch’s position at the time, it was surely no coincidence that the plans were drawn up in Zlín (likely in the project department of the Bata company). That same year, the project was adapted by Pilsen builder Jan Velíšek, who also subsequently constructed the building. However, instead of just one storey, he added two to the original site. In addition to the three apartments with a total of nine residential rooms on the first floor, another five bachelor flats were built on the floor above. The built-up area of ​​the house increased as well – part of the courtyard wing on the ground floor was extended by more than three meters and a narrow transverse wing with staircase was extended to include sanitary facilities with urinals. The originally planned shop was replaced by a bar separated from the guest rooms and the kitchen by the courtyard entry. Given the increased housing capacity of the building, Rajnoch was able to set up lodgings for 30 employees of the Bata subsidiary.

The two main construction stages are clearly visible on the street façade. The unrealised "Zlín" version corresponded to the modern ethos of the Bata company – apart from simple window ledges, the façade of the extension was completely smooth, the area of five windows was articulated by subtle frames, and the form of the shop windows and entrance was purely contemporary. Velíšek’s adaptation slightly weighted down the exterior of the building with traditionalist elements: accentuated cornices between floors and ledges beneath the windows, sculptured plaster areas in the side parts of the front façade, and the two-colour scheme of the façade. The form of the ground floor remained the same in both proposals – a façade with a low stone base is segmented by five narrow windows with a round arch (with one large three-part window instead of a shop window) and a similarly shaped portal serving as the entrance to the building and the courtyard. The same morphology is characteristic of the neighbouring building. On the façade, interrupted up by an entrance for cars, a simple lesene grid is applied. The portal of the courtyard entrance with a straight lintel is flanked by two side windows with semi-circular tops. The attic space on the first floor is illuminated by six small windows, arranged in pairs. The central part of the façade was originally topped with a curved style gable with an identically shaped window and a hipped roof rising behind.

In the late 1930s, both buildings and the large yard belonged to the F. Dezort company, a factory for automobile bodywork and armatures. The company, which originally produced bicycles, extended its production in the 1920s to manufacture cars and buggies. At the end of this decade, František Dezort was running the only licensed driving school in Pilsen. With the development of bus transportation and motoring in general, his company shifted its focus to the production of bodywork, armatures, and custom-made products for the Škoda and Praga auto manufacturers. The company was able to manufacture the chassis for any car body – open and closed designs, box vans, pick-ups with tarps, etc. They also prepared a special body for the car in which the Pilsen Puppet Theatre of Antonín Kašpar toured the USA.

In 1939, Dezort intended to build a new body shop on the plot in Zborovská Street. This large-scale Modernist industrial building project was prepared by Pilsen architect and builder František Měsíček. The designed two-storey building, with a length of more than 100 meters, was a continuation of the existing buildings in Zborovská Street – oriented, however, along part of a new, yet unnamed street forming an obtuse angle with Zborovská Street (the street envisaged in the regulatory plan of Pilsen by Vladimír Zákrejs of 1929-1932 was supposed to be a part of the connection between the districts of Bory and Slovany). Měsíček slightly rounded both corners of the building in the proposed street and gave the utilitarian structure austere but impressive Functionalist shapes. The façade was broken up by a grid of ribbon windows and the given rhythm in both street facades was accentuated by "pilasters" with ceramic tiles. These elements, widening the profile of the pillars between windows, carried individual letters of the sign KAROSÁRNA facing the new street, while the name F DEZORT was situated on the Zborovská Street façade with the letters anchored to the parapet wall on the roof. The architect completed brick framework with reinforced concrete columns in the central longitudinal axis of the two-wing hall; reinforced concrete was also applied in the ribbed ceilings and the roof structure.

The factory building was meant to house a body shop, blacksmith shop, boiler room, fuel storage, wood drying room, and changing rooms with facilities; in addition to the body shop, the floor was also intended to include an engine room, paint shop, and warehouse for finished products. Adjustments were to affect the two existing buildings as well – on the ground floor of the residential building, the bar and guest house operation were to be replaced by offices and a drafting room; in the next building, the inn hall was to be converted into an upholstery shop. To ensure adequate natural lighting, several windows in the façade of the buildings were to be enlarged. However, due to unfinished zoning proceedings (probably caused by the escalating military conflict), none of Měsíček’s projects were realised.

Two years after the war, František Dezort’s company, which continued to produce car bodies and armatures, set about establishing a body shop in a makeshift and far more modest form. The reason was the necessity to fulfil the so-called Two-Year Plan, which forced the company to begin producing bodies for Praga NDO buses. This time, František Měsíček designed a single-storey hall building of an L layout encircling the existing buildings. While the wing facing Zborovská Street served as a body shop and forge, the other wing set away from the older buildings and closing part of the yard included an open shed, central heating technology, an air separation unit, and garage. Due to the planned temporary nature of the new building, its framework was made from wood. The slightly bent street façade was segmented by a large metal door and a window with “Luxfer” glass blocks. The mono-pitched roof situated toward the street was to be hidden behind a gable with an attic fitted with a sculpted sign reading KAROSÁRNA F. DEZORT. Five large segmented windows gave rhythm to the oblong north façade, which probably had a cladding with horizontally laid planks; thus, more light poured into the interior through the roof skylights.

In the residential building, a changing room was established in place of the bar, the office space was expanded, and the courtyard wing was extended to include an upholstery room. In the adjacent building, the former inn hall was converted into a tinsmith shop. The proposed but unrealised adaptation of both older buildings’ façades corresponded to Měsíček’s pre-war project.

In 1948, the factory was nationalised and handed over to the administration of Karosa Vysoké Mýto, n. p. as “plant 08”. From 1950 on, electric motors were repaired here under the nearby Škoda Electrical Engineering Company. Currently, the electric motor repair shops are privately owned and continue to serve their original purpose. All three properties in the street front have retained their original form without major building interventions or degradation.


TŘ – PK

Investor

František Rajnoch (director of the Pilsen branch of the Bata company) / F. Dezort, factory for car bodies and armatures

 
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