Apartment Building of the Czech Brethren Cooperative Kalich

Slovanská 1382/81 (Plzeň) Plzeň Východní Předměstí
Public transport: Liliová (TRAM 1)
GPS: 49.7324294N, 13.3929833E

After several decades of dynamic expansion, the housing development along present-day Slovanská Avenue, the key artery of the Eastern Suburb, reached the border of the village of Hradiště at the end of the interwar period. In the years 1932-1933, a five-storey terraced house of the Czech Brethren Building and Housing Cooperative Kalich joined many new buildings, which were mostly residential houses with simple smooth facades.

The foundation of the cooperative was initiated by the Czech Brethren Evangelical East Congregation in 1930 to build a new congregation house and prayer room on the Anglické nábřeží / English Embankment. In the end, however, the complex of buildings of refined Modernist forms (C1–2142) was constructed by care of the church itself. Nevertheless, the cooperative played a crucial role in the construction of the apartment house on Slovanská (then Nepomucká) Avenue, another building project of the Czech Brethren Church.

Among the surrounding residential structures, the congregation house stood out with its typological design. In the event of establishing the third Pilsen Czech Brethren congregation it was to become its centre and was thus meant to concentrate not only the so-called smallest flats, thanks to which the cooperative received state support, and small shops, but also the congregation hall (prayer room) and lecture room. In 1932 the cooperative commissioned the builder František Macháček to prepare the building project. For the house to be able to accommodate such a rich programme content, the author designed it on a T-shaped plan so that its built-up area occupied almost the entire area of ​​the plot.

The building with cellar was supposed to hide its size and range of functions behind a sober, symmetrically arranged Modernist facade, which was divided by two narrow and shallow avant-corps from the first to the third floor. At the level of the ground floor ceiling, they merged into a continuous horizontal strip separating the ground floor from the upper floors. The fourth floor was defined by a horizontal ledge at the windows’ bottom level, and the attic was illuminated by a low continuous dormer. František Macháček placed the slightly set-in main entrance in the central axis of the facade, accentuating it with a small relief of the chalice, a symbol of the reform churches, above a subtle awning. This pure and clear solution in the spirit of the Purist tradition corresponds with the taste of the young Czech Brethren Church ­– such architecture demonstrates the principles of the "new" faith, which emphasises early Christian simplicity and purity (see C1–2142).

On the ground floor of the street wing, the house concentrated three commercial spaces with small storage rooms and two one-room apartments. The 30-meter-long courtyard section was to include a lecture room, a large congregation hall with 254 seats, an archive and facilities. The author designed the other floors with one-room flats for cooperative members into four wings on a shortened T-shaped ground plan – situating the residential rooms and most kitchens in the street and courtyard wings, and all other utility areas, including the home staircase, in the two inner sections. The basement was reserved for the individual flats’ storage cubicles and the boiler room; the attic housed the laundry, mangle and a small bedsit (originally a "children's shelter" was intended for this space).

The building, realised by the builder Rudolf Pěchouček, was finally approved in 1933, but without the congregation hall, which the cooperative could not construct for financial reasons. Despite submitting repeated and successful applications until the end of 1938 for an extension of the original building permit in order to carry out the construction of the congregation hall, this intention never materialised. At the same time, the lecture room seems to have lost its purpose and was adapted into a one-room apartment. The author of the simple project was Jaroslav Fišer, who had also designed the above-mentioned complex on the English Embankment for the Czech Brethren East Congregation. In 1951 one of the shops was converted into a small housing unit.

At present, the house is in a good, well-maintained condition, retaining an almost authentic character.



Kalich, Czech Brethren Building and Housing Cooperative for Pilsen and the Surrounding Area Established in Pilsen


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