Pavel Janák

Pavel Janák was born on March 12th 1882 in Prague. In 1911 he became one of the pioneers of cubism in architecture. His designs were accompanied by articles, published in a whole range of magazines such as, for example Styl (Style), Umělecký měsíčník (The Arts Monthly), Kmen (The Tribe) or Volné směry (Free Trends).

Pavel Janák Liberation from historical details and emphasis on the logical constructive structure of architecture marked Janák's early unrealized designs such as the design of Palacký Square in Prague with cubist cubes surrounding the square with a memorial by Stanislav Sucharda, the majestic Letna tunnel and in a similar way, the design of the Town Hall of the Prague Old Town with grand arcades. The author envisioned the road "from modern architecture to architecture" as the strengthening of the spiritual principles within the work of construction. He tried to transfer the poetry of cubism into furniture and ceramic pieces. The shift away from intellectually demanding cubism to the national style of rondo-cubism was not only limited to architecture. In 1912 Janák was the author of the tomb of Gutfreund's family in Kutná Hora and Gutfreund's statues were supposed to adorn the facade of the Adria Palace in the New Town of Prague, whose facade was designed by Janák. The National Style was connected to the theoretical work of art historian V. V. Štech. He placed an emphasis on architecture's coming to terms with the influence of folk art, especially with folk patterns. In this spirit Janák created several notable buildings of which the crematory in Pardubice is the best. He again tried to transfer rondo-cubism into the field of furniture design. In the period between the World Wars, Janák attained prestigious positions. He was a professor of the Prague School of Applied Arts and was at the same time active in the National Regulatory Commission. In spite of this, he continued to work as a designing architect, during which time, he freed himself from the rondo-cubism of the early 1920's and moved in the direction of purism and functionalism. Just like his contemporaries, he was inspired to use raw brick masonry by examples of Dutch architecture. Janák was also interested in the subject of individual and collective housing. In 1933 he published the book, One Hundred Years of Rental Residential Housing in Prague. His name is connected with one of the most original attempts to build a neighborhood of family homes in the Czech lands, the Baba settlement, which originated on the initiative of the Czech Works Union. The representative example of this settlement is reminiscent of similar works abroad, which strove to propagate functionalism in residential architecture: the Am Weissenhof settlement in Stuttgart, the residential ensembles in Zurich, the settlement of houses at the WUWA Exhibition in Wroclaw or the exhibition of the Werkbund of Vienna. He placed several of his own houses in the Baba settlement, which was laid-out in sloping terrain in the turns of the streets. At the end of the 1920's and the beginning of the 1930's, he encountered his first major renovation work of a historical building. Since his youth, when he joined the Club for Old Prague, Janák had a special relationship with the old parts of Prague. The Černín Palace was predestined to become the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Janák expanded the reverently renovated historical building with an annex in the years 1931-1937. The architect did not copy the monumental classicism of the palace. Its expansion was designed in the spirit of the times, whereby he situated the new wing in such a way, so that the view of its baroque neighbor was not blocked. This accomplishment predestined him to become the successor to Josip Plečnik as architect of Prague Castle. This meant coming to terms with the questions posed by this unique work of architecture created over the centuries. After the Second World War, he was active exclusively as an architect / historical conservationist. Among his most important achievements was the adaptation of the Royal Garden, where he had already adapted an older summer palace as the p residential villa. Ten years later, he renovated the nearby Riding-hall and Ball-games Hall. Janák's work was completed on the verge of the 1950's with the renovation of a building connected with the court building circle, this time the Hvězda summer palace. Pavel Janák died on August 1st 1956 in Prague.

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