Address: Akademika Heyrovského , 17. listopadu, Malšovice u Hradce Králové, Hradec Králové
GPS: 50.2014808N, 15.8358164E
Date: 1965–1976 (P) 1967–1980 (R)
Architects: Karel Schmied, Milan Matějka, Anna Jiroušková, Miroslav Kadečka, Jaroslav Škaloud , František Čížek, Miloš Morávek
Builder: Pozemní stavby Hradec Králové n.p.
Preparations for the construction of a large campus in the southern part of the central city district began in the mid-1960s, when Karel Schmied and Jan Rejchl from the Hradec Králové branch of Stavoprojekt prepared a detailed master plan. The campus, conceived with an emphasis on park landscaping and greenery, was gradually built up until the 1980s and became the most significant urban intervention in the area between the second city ring road and the Orlice River lined by Brněnská Street. Its two main focal points were a set of buildings for the Faculty of Pharmacy of Charles University and the J. E. Purkyně Military Medical Research and Training Institute (MMRTI) in the southern part of the district along the newly created Akademika Heyrovského Street and a complex of buildings for secondary and higher vocational schools in the north-western part.
From the architectural point of view, the southern complex designed by Karel Schmied is particularly noteworthy. The connection between the army and the health sector has had a tradition in Hradec Králové since the early 1950s, when the administration of the local Faculty of Medicine of Charles University was taken over by the army and the institution was renamed the Military Medical Academy. The Academy began to cooperate with the Faculty of Pharmacy in 1976 (then without the civilian medical faculty, which became independent in 1958). Their close proximity in the new campus thus had not only a practical aspect, but also carried the symbolism of the materialization of mutual cooperation.
In the late sixties, the diverse complex of the MMRTI (1968-1975) was created whose architect defied the typified panel machine and pushed the technology of monolithic concrete in its admitted form. The main landmark was a sixteen-story slab dormitory situated as a point-de-vue in Heyrovského Street. Its flat avant-corps with deep loggias enlivened the façade and played a game of light and shadow that made the building change its appearance during the day. The transparent glass ground floor with its entrance hall is articulated by beveled pillars of monolithic concrete, which refer to the sculptural character of Brutalist architecture. They are reminiscent of building designed by Le Corbusier, which also resonate in Schmied’s other projects such as the duplex apartment building in the Labská kotlina II housing estate.
The high-rise mass of the dormitory was complemented by a low wing of lecture halls and a gym building at the eastern edge of the precinct. Its originally designed shell combines harmoniously curved masonry clad with brick strips and a contrasting, fully glazed façade, preceded by beveled reinforced concrete roof frames, inspired – in Schmied’s own words – by the sports buildings designed by the Italian architect Piero Luigi Nervi. This principle of an admittedly load-bearing structure allowing for a free internal layout of the hall without supports has been maintained after the recent revitalization of the building, despite the pressures to insulate the building.
In the adjacent part of the Faculty of Pharmacy, built between 1974 and 1980, four perpendicularly oriented dormitories were first built – nine-storey slab houses of prefabricated HK reinforced concrete system, which perpendicularly flanked the city ring. The easternmost (eastern) dormitory was adapted in the first phase of construction to be used by the faculty to house administration, laboratories and workshops. The building was later connected by an elevated corridor to a long six-storey monoblock flanking the driveway, which housed lecture rooms, special departments and other laboratories. The delicately subtle glass façade became its defining feature, enhancing the serene horizontal effect.
The space between the two main buildings of the faculties was filled with a water surface with a central metal sculpture, The World of Molecules (also called The Cluster of Atoms or The Molecule), by the painter, medalist and designer Jiří Dostál, a graduate of the glass school in Železný Brod and the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague (Stanislav Libenský’s studio). The cluster of spheres – atoms – with a diameter of 60–70cm rests on a concrete platform and its shiny chrome surface mirrors the surrounding architecture, enhanced by the reflections of the water surface.
Within the campus, there is also the solitary building of the common canteen in the north-western part of the precinct, dating from 1972–1976. The two-story building with a square plan consists of a ‘recessed’ ground floor, whose outer concrete walls are decorated with geometric relief decoration. The compositions of parallel lines, spirals and circles was designed by painter Jiří Felger, with whom Schmied collaborated, for example, in the design of the Karla IV. Street underpass. The mass of the first floor of the ground floor on all sides overlaps and contrasts with the generous glass surface of the main façade. The most striking element of the building, however, is the system of load-bearing steel frames that support the building in six rows along the entire length of the roof and that project the entrance façade. This creates a pleasant ‘arcade atmosphere’ in front of the main entrance to the building. As in the case of the supporting frames of the VLVDU gymnasium, their main task was to ensure a free layout without roof supports in the first floor dining hall.
The overall structure of the area was completed in the late 1990s with the corner building of the Special School designed by Schmied in collaboration with his son Karel. They conceived it with an attempt to relate it to the overall structure of the building, differentiated and enlivened it, however, with an arched roof.
Over time, the aging campus needed revitalization. Karel Schmied and his son were invited to design it, so the main architectural values of the individual buildings were preserved (especially the buildings of the Faculty of Pharmacy, the dormitory with a gym, and the canteen). The changes in these building modifications were particularly visible on the building skin. The old materials were replaced by new, thermally suitable elements that respect the compositional and color intentions of the author. This is most evident in the revitalization of the canteen, during which Felger’s ground-floor reliefs were replaced by new concrete cladding in the original artistic version.
The school complex is part of the protected urban conservation area in Hradec Králové.