House of František Beneš
1921–1922

Vlastina 502/8 (Bolevec) Plzeň Severní Předměstí
GPS: 49.7651614, 13.3698838

One quite unique structure in the context of inter-war Pilsen architecture is the "log house” of the Pilsen architect and long-time employee of the Municipal Building Authority František Beneš, which was realised to the architect's own design in the years 1921–1922 in the villa neighbourhood of Lochotín.

The formal solution of the house corresponds to the typology of a country cottage, which acquired new significance in shaping the identity of the newly-established Czechoslovak Republic in 1918. Architects and theorists began to see the cultural legacy of Czech cottages as a “return to the roots of the nation” or the “authentic values of Czechness” and tried to promote it programmatically, as evidenced by the First Exhibition of the Union of Czechoslovak Creative Work with a graphic exhibition of ideal interiors with elements based on folk motifs, which took place in late 1921/early 1922. In the case of Beneš’s house, it was not only the exterior with a massive half-hipped roof (originally covered with shingles), a log cladding of the brick construction of the house, a porch and other wood carving elements (columns, railings and others) that were inspired by folk art, but also the interiors with wood-beam ceilings, brightly-coloured panel doors, stucco ceiling mirrors and other painted decor. An important source of inspiration for Beneš was undoubtedly also the experience acquired during his numerous reconstructions of valuable historic objects, a long-term activity of the architect.

Despite this apparent “Historicism” in terms of layout and operational arrangement, the house was designed to fully meet the requirements of modern and comfortable living. The elevated ground floor was entered unconventionally from the garden over a roofed porch. Two living rooms were located here, lit from the west by grid windows facing the street, as well as a kitchen, sanitary facilities and a hall with steep stairs to the attic with two more residential rooms, equipped with an extra tiled stove, and with loggias on both the street and the garden facades. Another distinct structural element was the Cyclopean masonry of the elevated basement housing the cellars, laundry room and a small one-room apartment, turned into a garage in 1971.

The current owners do not use the house (in the past they were even considering demolition due to its poor structural-technical condition); the object has therefore been significantly falling into disrepair – despite the fact that it was declared a cultural monument in 2001. The house is certainly deserving of sensitive reconstruction that would restore the lustre to an originally artistically rendered "modern cottage" – one of the first forays into the National Style in Pilsen.

 


 

Investor

František Beneš

Monument preservation

the house is an intangible heritage monument listed in the Central List of Cultural Heritage: 51011/4–524; it is also part of the across-the-board historically protected area of the City Heritage Zone Pilsen–Lochotín.

 
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