Villa of Božena and Karel Svoboda
1933–1934

Vlastina 602/23 (Plzeň) Plzeň Severní Předměstí
GPS: 49.7680906N, 13.3677342E
Architect:

Villa of Božena and Karel Svoboda, which was built in 1933-1934 in the northern part of the Lochotín villa neighbourhood, is one of the most prominent examples of Emotional Functionalism in Pilsen. The three-storey representative building for the merchant and chairman of the Burghers Brewery board of directors and his wife impressively combines blank, smooth facades reflecting the functional structure of the building with elegant rounded bodies of the staircase tower and porch and a system of open terraces.

In the upper part of the trapezium-shaped plot, the Svobodas had a tennis court with a subtle garden pavilion built in 1932. The courtyard and imposing lightly-built glass building with a flat roof were realised by the Pilsen based builder Josef Špalek Sr. In the following year the contractor František Němec Sr. (who was closely connected with the brewery, where he built several buildings) commenced the construction of the villa itself, with two residential floors, a basement and a generous roof deck. The plans of the house situated in the north-west corner of the plot in Vlastina Street were drawn by a graduate of Prague’s Czech Technical University and a member of the West-Bohemian Fine Artists Association Jaroslav Čada. Svoboda's brother Jaroslav, one of Čada’s colleagues from the Pilsen Technical School, was the author of the construction design.

Architect Čada worked with the mass of the residential buildings in an ingenious way. Each of the facades was lightly rhythmised by using windows of varying sizes, open and glazed porches or raised glazing of the main staircase. The vertical of the half-cylindrical bay was emphasised by a vertical ribbon with a flagpole. The architect also played with the proportions and contrasts between the austere and freer shapes of the individual sections of the house and the different levels of the decks, stairways and porch. The artistic dimension and modernist character of the building was enhanced by a continuous tubular railing of a spacious roof deck circumscribing the perimeter of the building.

The comfortable and generous interior layout of the villa was also impressive. In addition to the usual cellars and laundry with an ironing room, the basement also housed a garage and a smaller one-bedroom flat with a kitchen. The elevated ground floor, which was accessed by a staircase from Vlastina Street, was dominated by a spacious representative wood-panelled hall illuminated by a modern, geometrically articulated ceiling light. The hall with the adjoining main staircase with a rounded landing led to the master’s room, a living room, a dining room with a winter garden, a cloak room and a service area with a second staircase. This tract also contained a larder, kitchen, toilet, maid’s room and food preparation room adjacent to the dining room. The upper floor provided the Svobodas not only with the comfort of three pass-through bedrooms with decks and dressing rooms, but also a study and an airy bathroom with a bathtub. The last floor covered only part of the ground plan in the northwest corner of the house. A smaller-scale attic with a utility room was supplemented by a living room with access to a smaller terrace and a covered porch. The remaining area of ​​the second floor was taken up by an open roof deck.

Božena and Karel Svoboda were only able to enjoy the high-quality architecture and comfortable living spaces for less than two decades. In 1952, four years after the Communist coup, they were evicted from the villa. Afterwards, the building was used for student accommodation and later as the seat of the Regional Political School. The building was adapted for the needs of this institution in 1970 and then again in 1980, when the originally open porches on both the first and second floors were walled up. Meanwhile, in 1972-1974, a late modern complex based on the project of Miroslav Klein, Jaroslava Gloserová, Miloslav Sýkora and Josef Cimický was constructed for the Political School in a part of the original garden – on the site of the tennis court. At about the same time, the house was cut off from the villa estate by Alej svobody Street and its surrounding area, which until then had been an open space. The area was filled in by a group of panel houses of the Lochotín housing estate.

However, the Functionalist expression of the building was not significantly disturbed by the interventions described above and remains legible at first glance. In addition to the layout, the interior of the building has retained many of its original high-quality details, including some built-in furniture and other equipment. Thanks to this, the house has been listed as an immovable cultural monument since 2001. It is currently in very good condition and the descendants of the original owners use it as an administrative building.


KE – PK

Sources

  • Archiv Odboru stavebně správního, Technický úřad Magistrátu města Plzně
 
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