František Metelka’s house
1914–1915

Boženy Němcové 116/7 (Plzeň) Plzeň Severní Předměstí
GPS: 49.7643228, 13.3659410

On the eve of the First World War, in April 1914, the prominent Prague architect Bohumil Hübschmann (from 1945 onward he used the Czech form of his surname, Hypšman) drafted the plans of a Pilsen villa for the provincial lawyer František Metelka. The house, whose construction the local builder Josef Špalek Sr. completed in September 1915 despite the war, brought to the Lochotín villa district, hitherto dominated by historicist buildings, a new Modernist look. The character of the building reflected the influence of the Viennese architect and teacher Otto Wagner, under whom Hübschmann trained in 1900-1904.

The architect conceived the two-storey house with a hipped roof on a simple, roughly rectangular ground plan, with the shorter side facing the street. The rational, geometric facade is encompassed around the entire perimeter by a richly profiled, cuspidate string course separating the ground floor from the upper storey, which is further divided by subtle vertical lesenes set in a regular pattern, typical of Hübschmann’s pre-war designs. The two storeys are further differentiated by renders of varied coarseness. The western facade is enlivened by a ground-floor polygonal bay, which on the upper floor merges into a shallow balcony with narrow glass side panels divided into panes by narrow spars and crowned with decorative capitals. The same rhythmic division is applied also in the upper half of the windows, which on the ground floor are further complemented by wooden shutters. The architect conceived in an unconventional way the design of the stepped tiered cornice, which at the top has a significantly overlapped white wooden beam covering the gutters.

The centre of the layout of the house was a residential staircase hall in the northwest corner, a key communication and social "hub" giving access to the drawing room with the bay window and a spacious dining room. The ground floor also housed a kitchen and other utilitarian spaces. The first floor, in contrast, was of a purely private character; it contained four rooms and sanitary facilities. The elevated basement provided space for a small caretaker’s flat, a laundry room and a cellar.

The villa was situated in the southwest tip of the expansive plot, which was landscaped as a show garden with a gazebo and pergola and originally stretched as far as Libušina Street. In the seventies and eighties, however, the eastern half of the land was separated from the villa and two new buildings were erected on it. After 1945 the interior layout of the house was divided up – the basement apartment was modified into an emergency flat for residents whose houses were damaged during the war, while the above-ground floors were divided into two separate apartments.

Though the František Metelka Villa has not been listed as a cultural monument, it is located in the Plzeň-Lochotín Urban Conservation Zone and its owners (relatives of the second proprietor of the villa, Jan Ulč, an owner of real estate in Pilsen and brickworks in Bolevec), have conducted gradual sensitive reconstruction with respect for its original appearance.

 


 

Investor

František Metelka

Sources

  • Archiv Odboru stavebně správního, Technický úřad Magistrátu města Plzně
 
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