Columbarium II

Rokycanská 173/125 (Plzeň) Plzeň Východní Předměstí
GPS: 49.7478311N, 13.4328539E

Pilsen’s growing public interest in the modern and hygienic method of burial by cremation called for the establishment of additional space for urn storage rather quickly after the new crematorium, equipped with a columbarium (C14–173A), began operation. For this reason, the City of Pilsen had a new columbarium constructed in 1932-1933 north of the crematorium building in the Central Municipal Cemetery in the district of Doubravka. Otakar Gschwind, a member of the younger generation of architects working at the Municipal Building Authority (at that time Gschwind was Head Secretary of the Municipal Technical Assistance Service) was commissioned to deliver the project. The construction was carried out by the building company of Tomáš Keclík.

The author placed this three-storey Functionalist building with a flat roof and smooth “Brizolit” cement-rendered façade on a sloping terrain, separating it from the older crematorium building by a reinforced concrete fence. He designed it on a semi-circle ground plan with an arm attached lengthwise as a complex of three outer galleries and one inner gallery, which provided access to more than 1,300 urn niches with a total capacity of 4,000 - 5,000 urns. The end points of the galleries were fitted with roofed granite staircases accentuated by round “nautical” windows with a masonry lattice, which lent the building a contemporary Modernist appearance. These circulation “nodes” allow access from the columbarium’s lower levels sunken into the slope while connecting the inner urn courtyard (also fitted with an impressive monument to the Czechoslovak Minister of Education Gustav Habrman from 1934) with a surrounding full-grown garden adapted as an urn grove. The structural framework of the building consists of a one-storey reinforced concrete frame fixed to a continuous belt. The author of the project of reinforced concrete frames, which also included the roof slab, was Gschwind’s colleague Stanislav Smola.

The new building of the so-called “Columbarium II”, which the final-inspection commission found “very tasteful, reverential and functional”, was ceremoniously opened to the public on September 11, 1933 in the presence of Pilsen’s mayor Luděk Pik.

Subsequently, further extension of the columbarium’s capacity was discussed in the 1950s. The site recently underwent a careful reconstruction respecting its original architectural appearance. Thus, this authentic building still represents one of the most successful realisations of emotional Functionalism in Pilsen.


The City of Pilsen


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