Václav Ornst’s house
1930–1931

Růženy Svobodové 584/18 (Plzeň) Plzeň Severní Předměstí
GPS: 49.7658717, 13.3672875

 In the early 1930s, the Lochotín villa district of Pilsen was enhanced by the architecturally very valuable Functionalist house of Václav Ornst, deputy director of the Škoda Works munitions factory, who commissioned the Pilsen architect Václav Neckář to draft the plans. The construction of the villa with an elevated basement, two storeys and an attic was conducted by the local builder Antonín Štipl.

Václav Neckář, one of the most consistent Pilsen Modernists, gave the house an approximately square ground plan of elementary "box" shape with a generously protruding staircase avant-corps on the (north-facing) street side and an avant-corps in the northeastern corner. The orthogonal spatial composition includes a covered entrance staircase, whose flat roof serves as a small terrace. The architect based the look of the Purist facade on alternating smooth, unornamented, white-rendered surfaces and multi-light windows, the varied sizes of which reveal the different functions of the rooms behind them (via large windows light flooded into the living rooms and veranda, while small windows illuminated the operational parts of the house). The set of volumes is complemented by the tubular railings of the terrace above the raised main entrance and on the flat roof, partly adapted at the level of the loft as a terrace. According to Neckář’s design, the northern facade was to be enlivened by climbing plants, for which the architect designed a trellis extending above the lintels of the first-floor windows.

The main social function in the house was served by the ground floor, in which was located the entrance hall, a social room, a large dining room and a veranda, from which led a separate entrance to the garden. In addition, part of the ground floor was occupied by a modern kitchen and service area, as well as a maid's room. The first floor, on the contrary, was of a purely private nature; here were the parents’ and children’s bedrooms, a bathroom and a guest room. The architect deliberately situated all the living spaces to the south, i.e. facing the garden, whereas the technical facilities were located in the northern section of the house, facing the street. The basement held cellar spaces, a laundry room and garage as well as a small caretaker’s flat. With its sophisticated operational and technological solutions, which included a dumb waiter, laundry and waste chutes, built-in wardrobes and sliding doors, the house met all the contemporary requirements for modern, comfortable and healthy accommodation.

Along with Heřman Konejl’s villa in the Bezovka district (C4-1930), built according to Neckář’s plans at the same time, Ornst’s house is one of the finest examples of Pilsen Functionalist architecture, commensurate with Prague and Brno architecture of the time, which Neckář personally encountered during his engagement in the Brno Exhibition of Contemporary Culture in 1928. Both these villas can, given their undeniable formal kinship, be considered variations on the theme of the modern Functionalist villa, conceived in keeping with the then widely discussed "Scientific Functionalist" method, in which form was subordinated to function in the design of buildings and the house was regarded as a "machine for living". The Konejl villa, however, unlike Ornst’s house, shows some deviations from strict Scientific Functionalist principles - for example, the use of a semicircular staircase bay, typical of emotional Functionalism.

Although in the 1960s the villa underwent some construction alterations (a garage was built in the garden and the interior layout of the house was divided into two smaller apartments), it still retains its original architectural look of the early thirties, thanks to which it was listed in 1994 as a cultural monument. The derelict state of the rendering and the preserved wooden gazebo in the garden indicates the imminent need for sensitive restoration.



Investor

Václav Ornst

Monument preservation

Listed as an immovable cultural monument with the Cultural Monuments (ÚSKP) registration number: 12884/4-4956; simultaneously part of the blanket conservation area of the Plzeň-Lochotín Urban Conservation Zone.

Sources

  • Archiv Odboru stavebně správního, Technický úřad Magistrátu města Plzně
 
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