Apartment House of Václav and Marie Šlapák

Kapitána Jaroše 1613/11 (Plzeň) Plzeň Východní Předměstí
Public transport: Olšová (TRAM 1)
GPS: 49.7303408N, 13.3959339E

The three-storey corner house at the intersection of Kapitána Jaroše (originally Olšová) and Ruská streets was commissioned in 1936 by Václav Šlapák, superintendent of State Railways and his wife Marie. At the time of construction, this city block, delimited to the west by Slovanská (formerly Nepomucká) Avenue and to the north by a farmyard, remained largely undeveloped. This did not change until the second half of the 1940s, when the apartment buildings for the employees of the Czechoslovak State Railways and Post (C12–1823) were built along Částkova Street, which only existed in the plans of the Municipal Building Authority at that time. The southern row of the set connected the town block including the Šlapáks’ house with the neighbouring block and prevented the extension of Ruská Street parallel to Nepomucká Avenue to the intersection of today's U Bachmače and Sudova streets. However, the farmyard only gave way to Částkova Street, which was, according to the zoning plan prepared in the late 1940s, to become one of the main city axes in the 1960s. At the same time, there was already a kindergarten building inside the two connected blocks between Kapitána Jaroše and Částkova streets.

The design of the apartment house of Václav and Marie Šlapák was the work of Pilsen builder Josef Soukup. He arranged the compact building of sober modernist forms on a square ground plan attaching it to both street lines. While the northern gable wall was to be joined by the future development of Ruská Street, on the eastern side the house – similarly to its counterpart on the opposite side of Olšová Street at Nepomucká Avenue – kept its distance from its neighbour and thus a space for a small garden. However, Josef Soukup reserved part of this area for a garage slightly set off the building (the Municipal Building Authority allowed the construction of the garage on the condition that its floor be one meter below the level of the pavement).

Like the above-mentioned house No. 1 (C12–1412) and the opposite Modernist No. 13 (C12–1506), which was built two years earlier, the Šlapáks’ house also turns into the intersection with a rounded corner. Josef Soukup composed both street facades almost symmetrically along the vertical axis in the corner. He broke up the facade with windows in five window axes, two of which he inserted into the curve of the corner, articulating them in the outer parts with two slightly protruding one-storey bay windows and a somewhat shallower ledge strip connecting the two vertical elements horizontally at the first-floor level. The builder complemented these elementary plastic forms with simple window ledge mouldings on the top floor, a distinctive upper cornice covering the hipped roof, “Brizolit” plasters of two different hues and a plinth made of artificial stone.

The Šlapák House had a total of four flats. Josef Soukup situated the caretaker's bedsit, laundry room and cellar units in the basement, and one apartment with three rooms, a kitchen and facilities on the ground first and second floors. In a rational and economical two-wing layout, he oriented the living rooms toward both streets and the operational facilities and the staircase from which the apartments were entered toward the garden. He also placed the entrance to the building in the staircase space, which manifests itself in the side facade at the northwest corner by a shallow risalit with balconies at the level of the mezzanine landings. Probably in an effort to gain space for a vestibule, an entrance porch was later added to the staircase “tower”. The north gable wall remained uncovered for several decades, which led to problems caused by water condensation and the formation of mould. It was not until the turn of the 1970s and 1980s that a three-storey apartment house with an elevated basement adjoined the building there. With the exception of an additionally constructed porch, the Šlapák house has been preserved in its original form to the present day, including windows with wooden frames.



Václav and Marie Šlapák


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