Apartment and Commercial Building of the West Bohemian Consumer Cooperative
1922–1923

Slovanská 899/40, Modřínová 399/1 (Plzeň) Plzeň Východní Předměstí
Public transport: Jedlová (TRAM 1)
GPS: 49.7359478N, 13.3891519E

The West Bohemian Consumer Cooperative, a product of the transformation of the original Central Consumer and Production Cooperative in Pilsen, focused mainly on organising the distribution of daily-use articles (groceries, clothes, household articles), but also provided further services for its members such as depositing and paying interest on their savings or constructing workers’ houses and apartments.

One of the cooperative’s first building projects in the period after WWI was a five-storey corner apartment and commercial building no. 40 Nepomucká (Slovanská today) Avenue at the intersection of Modřínová Street. The building, constructed by František Vachta’s Pilsen building company, stands out with its richly decorated facade built according to the 1922 design by Bohumil Chvojka, then a 36-year-old architect. Chvojka had been working as a teacher since 1919 at the Czech State Technical School in Pilsen.

Chvojka designed the formal structure of the envelope of the building with markedly protruding relief elements of rounded shapes influenced by the emerging “National” style similarly to his first project of the Czech Brethren Church of Master Jan Hus (C3–1722), which he was working on in the same period. In the exterior, the semi-circle motifs are complemented with pointed mouldings and triangle gables with circular windows hiding a mansard roof of the street tract (the yard section has a flat roof). The smooth “Brizolit” facade is decorated with a horizontal fluting in the ground floor pilasters, thus visually setting apart the two main functions of the house – the residential and the commercial.

Given the similar corner location, the ground plan arrangement of the building is strongly reminiscent of the Czech Brethren Church. The nearly symmetrical disposition of the letter-V shape is laid out along a diagonal axis and the corner is chamfered as well. On a diagonal axis, the architect also situated the staircase body with a semi-circle cap protruding from the yard façade and a large skylight bringing daylight into the yard tract with the corridor and sanitary facilities of the apartments. The design for the house’s operation included placing three shops on the ground floor and apartment residential areas including kitchens in both wings of the street tract.

The first, second and third floor housed three studio apartments and one one-bedroom apartment. An additional apartment was added to the original twelve apartment units in 1924, when builder Jaroslav Kostka converted the courtyard passage from Modřínová Street into a one-bedroom flat.

Despite recent renovation (replacement of windows and roofing), the overall visual impression of the façade is unfortunately disturbed by areas of falling plaster and visual pollution on the ground floor street facade.


AŠ – PK

Investor

West Bohemian Consumer Cooperative

Sources

  • SOA Plzeň
 
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