Josef Gočár

The name of Josef Gočár, one of the most talented and productive architects of first half of 20th century, is closely connected with cities as Prague, Pardubice, Hradec Králové etc. 

Josef Gočár He was born on March 13th, 1880, in Semín, where his father worked as brewer. In 1891 the family moved to Bohdaneč. In 1903 he began to study at the School of Applied Arts in Prague, at first exceptionally in the studio of Jan Kotěra and later as regular pupil of his special school.

From 1905 he began with his first projects (houses in Pospíšilova Avenue in Hradec Králové), he made trips abroad to Belgium, Holland, Germany. After completion of his studies he worked in Kotěra´s studio, working in cooperation on the design of interior for the Czech exposition of the Austro-Hungarian Exhibition in London. In 1908 he left Kotěra's studio and became a member of the Architects' Association. In 1909 - 1910 he realizes his first major projects such as e.g. the staircase of the Church of the Virgin Marie in Hradec Králové, a construction of reinforced concrete, the connection of the square with the perimeter road below the fortifications, as well as, the Wenke department store in Jaroměř. He designed two protestant churches that however were not built. The reinforced concrete construction of the water resevoir and the cavalry barracks building in Bohdaneč are also from 1910. A large two-storied building for the enlisted men, two horse stables, a covered riding-hall and separately a villa for officers were built of white bricks . The architecture of the barracks was damaged by insensitive changes made in the years 1968 - 1991, when Soviet Army used the premises.

The first significant construction designed for Pardubice also originated in 1909 - 1910 on the premises of the automated Winternitz mills at the picturesque location on right riverbank of the Chrudimka. To the present day, when viewed from the opposite riverbank, this monumental construction with an interestingly designed coating, where the contrast of light and dark pointed bricks arranged in ornamental patterns, gives the impression of a romantic castle. In first half of the 1920's, the building was enlarged and modified several times and a fine number of small jagged escutcheons (swallow-tails) that originated from the traditional Pernštýn decor were added. In 1911 after a generational conflict, he left the Mánes Association of Beaux Arts (SVU) and became the first chairman of the Group of Artists of the Beaux Arts, he cooperated in the publication of the Art Monthly (Umělecký měsíčník) and designed several interiors for Dr. Grégr.

In 1912 he together with Pavel Janák founded the Prague Workshops of Art (PUD). In this period he designed the most significant works of his cubist house period, which are the "House At the Black Mother of God" in Prague and the bathhouse in Bohdaneč. The House At the Black Mother of God in Celetná Street with its cranked bay windows fit perfectly into its historical neighbourhood primarily thanks to its mansard baroque roof. Remarkable were the cubist fittings of the balconies and entry doors, the especially beautiful cubist interior of the café and the parterre with furniture and chandeliers by Gočár.

The spa building in Bohdaneč was opened in May 1913 and up to the present day bears the name of Gočár. The ground floor with covered colonnade located in front is intended for the placement of all facilities required for treatment - cabins with bath-tubs for baths, relaxation areas, waiting-rooms and massage rooms. The colonnade with bay projections leads into the vestibule and nowadays connects additional bath buildings. The pavilion up to the present day serves to its original purpose in the spa.

In 1913 - 1914 Gočár took part in the contest for the design of the Žižka memorial on Vítkov hill and in the exhibition of the Association of Beaux Arts in the Municipal House (Obecní dům), he took part in the foundation of the Union of Czech Works, and he exhibited his furniture in Germany. In 1924 he was nominated to become a professor at the Academy of Beaux Arts in Prague, in 1928 he was elected the President of this school and held this office until 1932. In the 1920's the period of so-called rondocubism began and during this era further significant construction originated. In 1921 - 1923 the construction of the building of Legiobanka in Prague, Na Poříčí was realized. The building is designed as heavy five-axis Palladian architecture with a Guttfreund relief over the whole width of lintel and breastwork, which is on both ends as well as over entry supported by the sculptures of Jan Štursa. The next four floors have semicircular robust semi columns interrupted by sculpture decoration. Above the cubist cranked windows Joseph Gočár used above-window bows. The bank hall has ornamental decoration of walls and pavement and a beautiful glass ceiling of three circular segments.

At the beginning of the 1920's his period of intensive work for Hradec Králové headed by Mayor Dr. Ulrich began. Gočár composed the city plan step by step, formed a regulation plan of the embankments, construction in Labská Lowlands, school blocks, the town center. Construction plans also included the system of outer ring road with radial roads leading to town center with residential districts alternating with green areas among them. With the substantial support of Mayor Ulrich the following buildings were gradually realized in Hradec Králové: the buildings of the Tannery School with director's villa (1923 - 1924), the building of Anglobanka (1922 - 1923), the height adjustment of the facades of older houses on the present Masaryk Square with the installation of a statue of T. G. Masaryk (1926 - 1927), the building of Rašín State High School with a gymnasium and director's house, all in raw masonry, in front of the entrance the statue of the "Winner" by J. Štursa (1923 - 1926). Furthermore, the construction of the New Public Schools (public and municipal schools) in 1925 - 1927, which are connected to the building of the high school, was realized. They are separated by a square reserved for pedestrians, originally the roofs were to serve as sunbaths. In 1926 - 1928 the construction of the nursery school located between the public and municipal schools was realized. In this period another religious building according to Gočár's design was constructed in Hradec Králové, Ambrož´s Congregation of the Czechoslovak Church (1925 - 1928) composed of the actual church (reinforced concrete) and the rectory and bishop's (raw masonry) buildings.

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