Beneš School
1923–1925

Doudlevecká 1692, 1691/ 37, 35 (Plzeň) Plzeň Jižní Předměstí
GPS: 49.7377975N, 13.3800387E
Architect:

The Beneš School on Doudlevecká Avenue, considered one of the most beautiful school buildings in the country by the press of the time, was inaugurated on the 27th of December 1925. The ceremony was also attended by the then Minister of Foreign Affairs Edvard Beneš, whose name the new school building bore mainly in recognition of the politician’s achievements in the Czechoslovak WWII resistance movement abroad and his pre-war educational activities. For the author of the design, the architect Hanuš Zápal, it was the second realisation of a school building in Pilsen, after the Masaryk School on Jiráskovo Square. By "delivering children from the unhealthy classrooms" of council schools, until recently located in eleven private houses, Zápal helped to put into practice the progressive ideals of the young and self-confident democracy.

The construction of the Beneš School (no. 37), forming a compact set with the smaller building of a kindergarten (no. 35), took place between the years 1923 and 1925 and was led by the Pilsen architect František Holcbecher. The dominant feature of the site is the three-storey building of the school in an L-shaped floor plan. The wings housed classrooms, the corners then both principals’ offices (the boys’ and girls’ parts of the school were separated), staff rooms, a library and a gym. The two-storey one-block building of the kindergarten, finished on the 16th of September 1924, naturally closes up the public space in front of the school, with a park and monument to the Rumburk heroes. Both school buildings represent the early modern style attitude of the architect Hanuš Zápal, reflecting influences from Art Deco and Cubism shifting towards the National style which is most evident in the design of portals. Cubist and curved elements and cornices decorate the austere facades as well.

Construction-wise, Zápal designed the Beneš School as a traditional building with brick load-bearing walls and reinforced concrete pillars in the halls; ceilings were reinforced concrete, monolithic as well. It was the reinforced concrete structure that became the Achilles heel of the building – negligent construction and a failure to comply with technological procedures during the construction led to demanding reconstructions later, even preceded by deliberations on whether to demolish the school (bearing the name School of Dukla Heroes in the years 1951–1990). The first reconstruction of the late sixties and early seventies saved the building, yet left its mark on the architectural value of the building, which was further reduced by later modifications to the building. The second reconstruction, carried out in 1994–1997, brought the building closer to its original state, among other things by the installation of replicas of original coffered ceilings, the painting of interiors and the furnishing of the school management offices with period furniture. The greenery in the space in front of the building was adapted to the original style as well.

 

PB
 

Investor

City of Pilsen

Sources

  • Archiv Odboru stavebně správního, Technický úřad Magistrátu města Plzně
 
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