Complex of Krofta’s houses of the Burghers Brewery in Pilsen
1930–1932

U Prazdroje 75a, 75b, 75c / 17, 19, 21 (Plzeň) Plzeň Východní Předměstí
GPS: 49.7471921, 13.3897536

Although the board of the prosperous Měšťanský pivovar brewery in Pilsen had long been considering the construction of a large apartment building for its employees, due to the First World War and other adverse events it was not possible to implement this plan until conditions improved in the second half of the 1920s. The board then decided to develop a complex of employee apartment houses along with a spa and company canteen. In 1928, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia, the brewery announced a restricted competition for the architectural design of this grand building project, in which Hanuš Zápal and prominent Prague Functionalist architects with connections to Pilsen, among them Jan Gillar and Josef Špalek Jr., participated. The site chosen for the development was that of a pair of old demolished houses at Nos. 74 and 75 on the street U Měšťanského pivovaru (today U Prazdroje). The winning design selected by the jury was that of the local builder Karel Mastný, who entered the competition later with an offer to draft the plans free of charge. Mastný was later assisted with the architectural plans, however, by the architect Bohumil Chvojka. The development of the entire complex subsequently proceeded in two phases.

In the first phase, which was implemented in 1930 by the builder Josef Štika, the four-storey apartment house No. 17 was built. It had small apartments, an alehouse with three rooms in the basement and a diner on the ground floor, which is identifiable from outside by large windows in the right side of the facade.

It was the second phase, though, which proceeded in 1930-1932 under the supervision of the builder František Němec Sr., which lent the complex its monumental scale and characteristic “folded” ground plan. It also contributed significantly to the overall representative exterior look of the industrial complex, which had already been emphasised in the early 1890s with the building of the Neo-Renaissance Jubilee Gate (1892). Similar modifications to the exposed parts of the brewery had, however, been conducted gradually (from 1914 to 1919, i.e. during WWI, an administrative building was constructed next to the gate according to plans by Ludwig Tremmel and Adam Hucl; in 1930-1931, a double villa was built for the executives of the brewery simultaneously with the second phase of development, designed by Hanuš Zápal and František Němec Jr.).

The longitudinal four-storey with smooth renders and prominent horizontal string courses above and below the windows was sharply folded roughly in the centre of its mass, giving rise to a small triangular open space with a pair of vehicle access archways through to the grounds. The prominence of the entranceway was emphasised all the more by triangular dormer windows on the central axes of the canted facades, the sculptural layout of which, in contrast to the street-side facades, was adorned with low pilasters, lesene frames and an opulent “gilded” year mark, 1842-1932 (the year of foundation of the brewery and the year of completion of the employee houses). A narrow sheet-metal lantern was mounted at the intersection between the two distinctive pitched roofs.

The ground floor of the left-hand wing served for public use – it contained two large diners for employees with facilities and kitchen area, as well as showers and baths and a reception. The opposite side of the ground floor (with the exception of a small shop) and the upper floors of the whole building were given over to both small one- to two-room flats and larger apartments of up to four rooms. In total there were 32 employee flats in the building.

In permanent recognition of the years of meritorious work by Richard Krofta, who from 1922 to 1933 chaired the board of the brewery, the complex was named the Krofta Houses, which is evidenced among other things by an engraved bronze plaque from the Prague workshop of Franta Anýž located in the lobby.

In 1947, the complex was extended under the so-called Building Recovery Plan to include the large four-storey tenement house Nos. 23 to 27 (C9–1817), built according to plans by the famous architect Václav Neckář.

The Krofta building complex, which in 1995 was listed as a cultural monument, is today in very good, well-maintained condition. The last reconstruction, during which the facades and the original windows were sensitively restored, was conducted in 2008-2009. As a memento to the fighting during the liberation of Pilsen on 6 May 1945, however, a rectangular part of the original render with bullet holes was left exposed and can be seen to this day.
 

Investor

Měšťanský pivovar brewery in Pilsen

Monument preservation

The group of houses is listed as an immovable cultural monument on the Central List of Cultural Monuments (ÚSKP), registration number: 10929/4-5019

Sources

  • Archiv Odboru stavebně správního, Technický úřad Magistrátu města Plzně
  • Archiv společnosti Plzeňský Prazdroj
 
C0C1C2C3C4C5C6C7C8C9