Perimeter blockPerimeter block, cornerPerimeter block, infill
Krizka
Stockar-Bernkoph, Jaroslav & Josef Solc | Prague, Czechoslovakia | 1938-39
Image of Krizka
Corner view along Milady Horákové

ProjectKrizka
ArchitectStockar-Bernkoph, Jaroslav & Josef Solc
CityPrague
CountryCzechoslovakia
AddressFr. Krizka & Milady Horájové
Building TypePerimeter block
Perimeter block, corner
Perimeter block, infill
Number of Dwellingsc. 160
Date Built1938-39
Dwelling Typesstudio, 1 & 2 BR flats
No. Floors7
Section Typeflats
Exterior Finish
Materials
stucco, ceramic tile, metal
Construction TypeR-C frame, masonry walls
Ancillary Servicesshops, cinema, balconies

This building was completed after the Munich Agreement of 1938 and thus it marks the end of the Czech Functionalist period. Built as part of a 1920's development of middle class housing in the Holesovice district north of the central area of Prague, this project takes up half of a perimeter block. The location of the Bata store at the corner and the famous Oko (The Eye) Cinema mark the location along a major commercial street. The building is 7 stories high with 6 floors of apartments above an taller commercial ground floor and steps back at the top floor creating a continuous terrace. The dominant view of the curved corner suggests the usual perimeter block typology. Along the side street, however, the building steps back from the street, forming two small courts along the street, a strategy to create an entrance for the cinema. While the apartments above the cinema align with the virtual surface of the street, the continuity of the perimeter block is broken so that the building form here suggests a freestanding condition. This ambiguity between a building as continuation of the exterior surface of the perimeter block and a building that is seen as a freestanding element is clear in the plan. Instead of a continuous perimeter, there are actually three independent buildings, two long linear walls along the main streets and a clustered tower connecting them together along the east edge. All three elements have point-access plan types with several flats per floor. The alternating solid/void pattern of flush wall surfaces with horizontal strip windows and recessed terraces along the street facades is expressed as continuous balconies at the rounded corner. The materials change from the metal and glass panels of the Bata store and the black ceramic tile of the cinema to the typical stucco walls of the residential floors. The courtyards formed by the cinema block are actually parking courts with access to lower garages so that the potential of the free-standing building, i.e. to be able to look out upon a park-like setting is lost.

The typical housing in the inner districts of Prague were usually infill buildings containing a few modest flats. The large zeilenbau projects that were advocated by functionalist doctrine--existenze-minimum, collective housing, and so on, in other words, the free-standing buildings that were the archetype of Le Corbusier's and 1930's CIAM urbanism--needed large open sites available only on the fringes of the old city. With Krista, a CIAM prototype has been adapted to a perimeter block site; discrete functionalist elements, connected together. It is interesting to compare Kriska with another apartment building of the same time, Highpoint I & II by Bertold Lubetkin & Tecton, built in London in 1937. Both are about the same height and have similar building plans consisting of repetitive, linear residential elements hooked together. Highpoint, however is on an open site while Krizka is completing one end of an existing perimeter block. But this raises interesting questions about the suitability of modernist housing building types for most urban sites.

Kohout, Michal & Vladimir Slapeta, Prague, 20th Century Architecture, Springer, New York, 1999, p. 76.

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