Náměstí Generála Píky / General Píka Square

(Plzeň) Plzeň Východní Předměstí
GPS: 49.734267, 13.398687

General Píka Square, named after a legionnaire and prominent representative of the Czechoslovak anti-Nazi resistance who was executed in the Pilsen Bory Prison, is the most important centre of the housing estate of the Pilsen 2 - Slovany district. The south-eastern side is delineated by houses in Krejčíkova Street; to the northwest and southwest the square is bordered by the long arms of two half-open blocks of apartment buildings lining the mouth of Částkova Street. In the northeast, by contrast, public spaces pass freely between solitary standing blocks of flats into the adjacent Chvojkovy lomy Park and stretch along Koterovská Avenue all the way to the municipal swimming pool.

Although a large part of the square is made up of greenery, it primarily and unfortunately functions to serve the needs of transport. The centre of the square consists of a roundabout with a road and concentric belts of greenery and pedestrian and cyclist paths. Částkova Street and Koterovská and Francouzská Avenues lead into the busy roundabout intersected by tram line No. 2. Both avenues, which run southeast, form an acute angle.

In the early 1950s open spaces bordered by sand quarries (where the sports complex TJ Lokomotiva Pilsen and the above mentioned swimming pool were later built) spread across the area where the square is located today. To tackle the post-war housing crisis, the first Plzeň housing estate was to be built here according to the city development plan. Construction was divided into five stages, which were gradually implemented during the 1950s and 1960s. In the mid-1950s, due to political changes in the USSR, the principles of Socialist Realism and its historicising shapes, which made construction projects more expensive, were rejected. In architecture, (old-)new modern approaches emerged and housing development was rationalised. Thus the individual stages of the Slovany housing estate reflect the predominant discourse of its time and differ from one another in both their urban concept and architectural forms.

The oldest part, today called Slovany II, was built in the area enclosed by Nepomuk Avenue and Jasminová Street without a city development plan. The arrangement of the Slovany I district, designed in 1951 and constructed in 1953-1957, largely stems from traditional block development. The area of Slovany III (1956-1961) was also composed of semi-enclosed blocks of houses, but the exterior of the buildings mostly lacks the ornamental forms of Socialist Realism (so-called “Sorela”).

As part of the fourth construction stage, which was implemented between 1958 and 1962 and marked by the acceleration and streamlining of the building process, the Square of the Builders of Socialsm – today's General Píka Square – was conceived. The square originally bore the name of Pilsen’s First Republic Communist Party official Jan Krautwurm until 1990. The development plans were prepared by Milan Lukeš, Vladimír Belšán, Jaroslav Hausner, Zbyněk Tichý and Miloslav Pech. Residential houses of modest forms were built from prefabricated concrete elements. However, thanks to the "classic" foundation of its urbanistic concept, this district also gained a high residential quality. The square was to become the transport, social and cultural centre of the entire neighbourhood. Its spatial solution, which emphasised transport operation, corresponds to the period preference for automobiles, more precisely for multilane roads lined by solitary housing development (Částkova Street was also supposed to be part of the ring avenue connecting the Slovany district with the Southern Suburb and Doubravka district).

The square and its vicinity were to be complemented with public amenities. Under this generous plan, a sports complex, a swimming pool, garages, a medical centre and a technical secondary school with accommodation were built. On the contrary, a spa, a cultural house, a cinema, a hotel, and a department store never came into existence. Instead of a department store, shops and services were established on the ground floors of the residential buildings on the southwest side of the square. These six-storey buildings, arranged in a continuous street front, were constructed from so-called breeze-blocks according to projects by Vladimír Belšán and Jaroslav Hausner.

In 1957 the State Project Institute of Pilsen held a competition to help come up with a face for the north-eastern part of the square and the adjacent buildings. The winning proposal came from a team led by Zbyněk Tichý and Miloslav Pech, who situated four seventeen-storey high-rise buildings with an L-shaped ground plan and reinforced concrete skeleton on the edge of Koterovská Avenue. Due to the reluctance of the Pilsen Civil Engineering Company to create these monolithic constructions, however, the architects were forced to rework the design. Finally, from 1962 to 1965, six ten-story slab houses (from so-called “block-slabs”) were installed in a regular rhythm along Koterovská Avenue. Jaroslav Peklo, Vladislav Štrunc and Luboš Princ joined Zbyněk Tichý in the team.

The area of ​​the square in the northwest was to be completed by a cultural house and in the southeast by a cinema and dominant high-rise hotel. Despite an internal State Project Institute competition for the cinema and hotel complex in 1964, the winning design of architects Miloslav Sýkora, Jaroslav Chrt and Vladimír Belšán was never actualised. The triangular area between Koterovská and Francouzská Avenues remained empty, and the southern side of the square was dominated for several decades to come by an eight-storey block of flats with eight sections originally built in 1964. This first entirely panel building in Pilsen was designed in 1961 by Vladislav Štrunc (type PS 61 – a similar system was later used for the six slab houses mentioned above).

On the nearby plot along Koterovská Avenue a highly-valued building of the Town District Hall was built according to the project by Václav Šmolík and Václav Ulč between 1998 and 1999. The three-storey Dvořák Gallery building (now Galerie Slovany) was constructed in 2006-2007 on the site that was originally intended for a cultural house, a cinema and a hotel.


MR – PK

Sources

  • Martina Koukalová, Slovany, Východní Předměstí, Paneláci.cz, http://www.panelaci.cz/sidliste/plzensky-kraj/plzen-slovany-vychodni-predmesti, vyhledáno 15. 12. 2017.
 
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