|Building Type||Perimeter block, infill|
|Number of Dwellings||30|
|Dwelling Types||Studio, 2 & 3 BR flats|
|Stucco, steel, wood windows|
|Construction Type||Steel frame|
Evzen Rosenberg was one of the more interesting architects practicing in Prague during the brilliant period of Czech Functionalism beginning in the late 1920's and lasting until the Munich Agreement in October 1938 when the Germans brought an abrupt end to the young Czech Republic. Rosenberg built several small apartment blocks in the central areas of Prague where new design was limited by zoning and site opportunities and by city policies designed to maintain the historic character of the old city center. All of Rosenburg's designs are variations of a similar building typology built on narrow infill sites in a perimeter block pattern of development in the inner city.
The two buildings shown here were built in the Holesovice quarter of Prague as a development of the 1930's across the river and north of the old city center. This block of luxury apartments was built for the Böhm brothers a year after Rosenberg completed a single version of a very similar building type on Letohradská Street. Essentially, except for minor changes, two Letohradská blocks have been connected together side by side. The plan organization is very similar and the façade is the same avant-corps type. While these are individual sites, and each building functions independently, the doubling of the facades suggests a strategy for a larger, continuous type of point-access building. The seven story volume is detailed with double entrances at the ground floor, one leading through the building to the rear courtyard, while the other leads to a symmetrical lobby with a stair at the rear that gets light from the rear. There are 4 one room flats at this level. The five typical floors in the middle are symmetrical with two, 2 bedroom flats per floor. The building steps back at the top floor where there is a large penthouse apartment that has terraces front and rear. The services form a tight core around the stair and elevator and entry to each dwelling and the rear kitchens have access to a small balcony. An important feature of Rosenberg's concept is the light well that admits light to the interior.
The facades are a remarkable feature of the pair of buildings. The central avant-corps parti derived from Letohradská, has changed slightly in both the detail of the horizontal windows of the center section of each façade and the detail development of the zone of small recessed balconies at each side on the Antoinská elevation. Here the balcony zone is divided so the horizontal zone of the avant-corps carries across the balcony in the form of a double-glazed solarium that is about 3 feet deep and projects slightly forward of the wall. The doubling of the balcony zones where the two facades connect results in subtle changes to the façade proportions and an even more complex geometry. This is a steel-frame building but with the usual stucco walls, and balcony and window details. Unlike Letohradská, the windows here, which also face south, have roll-down blinds.
Prototypical Functionalist housing was more concerned with social housing, collective/socialist forms of living, and the minimum dwelling that with exclusive apartments for the bourgeoisie. Rosenberg's collection of infill projects demonstrate, however, that much of the Functionalist program was applicable to other buildings as well, that after all was said and done about "scientific functionalism", by the doctrinaire apostles of the time--individuals like Karel Teige and Hannes Meyer-- formal judgments still had to be made; a composition did not design itself. Böhn is a good example of the formal potential of the Functionalist palette in the hands of a skilled architect.
Kohout , Michal & Vladimir Slapeta, Prague, 20th Century Architecture, Springer Guide Books, New York, 1999, p. 73.
Svácha, Rostislav,The Architecture of New Prague 1895-1945, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1995.
Architect's Journal, March 6, 1991, pp. 52-4.
Peichl, Gustav & Vladimir Slapeta, Czech Functionalism 1918-1938, Architectural Association, London, 1987.
Teige, Karel Modern Architecture in Czechoslovakia, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, 2000.
Leznikowski, Wojciech, East European Modernism: Architecture in Czechoslovakia Hungary and Poland Between the Wars 1919-1939, Rizzoli, N.Y., 1996.
Slapeta, Vladimir, The Brno Functionalists, Exhibition Catalogue, Museum of Finnish Architecture, Helsinki, 1983.