The history of architecture, be it works focused on the architecture in Hradec Králové or several biographies of Josef Gočár, has so far missed one unrealized project designed by Gočár shortly after he returned to the city of Hradec Králové after 1920. The only scholar who mentions it in the list of Gočár’s projects is Marie Benešová in Gočár’s 1958 monograph. Three architects were approached to design the building of the Institute for the Improvement of Trades: two local architects – Jan Rejchl and Oldřich Liska – and Josef Gočár, probably due to the fact that the chairman of the Institute was mayor František Ulrich. The architects met in this line-up in several other local competitions. The project was finally realized according to a much more modest and purist design by Oldřich Liska.
Gočár's project is dated 1 and 2 July 1924. The floor plans are dated the first day of July, the final design of the exterior the second. Gočár planned to divide the program and interior layout into three parts of the building complex: the administration department, the workshops and auditorium department, and the marketplace and machine testing department. Unlike Liska, who proposed a three-story single tract building in the southern part of the plot, Gočár suggested to enclose the irregular plot on three sides with three tracts: the southern part facing today’s Škroupova Street, the western part, and the northern part. In the eastern part of the plot, Gočár suggested a future extension if the capacity needed to be expanded. The southern tract was to contain, on the ground floor and first floor, a market hall of machinery, illuminated by high window strips extending over two floors. The project report describes it as follows: “the marketplace for heavy machinery forms a single hall, preferably provided with a wide gallery (about 3.2m), partly divided into booths, the walls of which can also be used as columns (to reduce the span).” The heavy machinery marketplace was to be about one meter below street level; the main central space without cubicles was to be 15 x 3 meters. The south wing was also to contain a sample room on the ground floor and a lecture hall on the first floor. The western wing spanned four floors. On the ground floor, at the corner, there was a covered portico and an entrance vestibule with a corridor leading to a series of eight offices, including the director’s office. On the first floor, there was a row of six offices and a large meeting room; on the second floor, there were four rooms for course workers, i.e., classrooms, and on the third floor, overnight accommodation rooms for teachers and male (2 large rooms) and female apprentices (1 large and 1 small room). In the corner section between the west and north wings, there was a caretaker’s apartment on the ground floor, a careers advice office on the first floor, a maid’s flat on the second floor, and attic storage on the third floor. Gočár intended to occupy the northern two-story wing with workshops and classrooms. On the ground floor, he designed workshops for various trades: woodworking, construction work, a workshop for light industry, a workshop for heavy industry, and a workshop for blacksmithing and foundry. In addition, there were warehouses of materials and deposits of collections of various designs, models, etc. On the first floor, Gočár designed a large classroom, a small classroom, a laboratory, a graphic and art studio, a workshop for commercial and chemical trades, a workshop for electrical engineering, a workshop for clothing trades, a darkroom for developing photographs, and a large resting terrace. The possibility of being outdoors between teaching blocks was characteristic of Gočár’s school buildings and corresponded to the requirements of the time, defined, among other things, by the new school law of 1922.
Gočár’s conception of the exterior is also remarkable. The architect tried to separate the very different parts of the whole complex – technology from the administration, the dormitory from the teaching space. Therefore, various parts have different spatial solutions, different number of floors, different lighting solutions through window openings, etc. Connecting the individual tracts into a harmonious material architectural whole was a difficult task for Gočár, as evidenced by the unusually large number of material studies. In addition, Gočár had to deal with the fact that the architectural conception of the whole complex was supposed to be sufficiently noble and correspond to the representational ambitions of the whole new commercial institute.
In the exterior, Gočár tried to use unplastered masonry, which he saw as a universal modern language for public buildings at that time. The corner portico was supported by five columns, perhaps intended to be clad with fine stone slabs. The tract with a sample room and a lecture hall was enclosed between two pylons which were supposed to be topped with statues – probably allegories of heavy and light industry, as can be seen in Gočár’s axonometric drawings. The administrative tract was to be tiled from the third floor onwards and enclosed by a prominent crown cornice. The intended form of the northern wing with classrooms and workshops has not survived. In his technical report, Gočár wrote the following about the modification of the inner courtyard: “The courtyard [will be] as large as possible. In the courtyard, [there will be] a 7 x 4m shed for lumber measuring.”
It is clear that Gočár’s elaborate project with a large number of very precisely diversified functions for sample sales, administration, teaching, accommodation for apprentices and teachers and workshop operations was too generous and the Institute or the Chamber of Commerce had to settle for much more modest conditions with almost no sample, teaching, or workshop facilities. Only one sector, which Gočár had not originally envisaged, received such attention: glassmaking in the form of a building of the Glass Institute.
The project was never built.
- Archiv architektury a stavitelství, Národní technické muzeum, fond č. 14, Josef Gočár, Ústav pro zvelebování živností a průmyslu spojeného s tržnicí a zkušebnou strojů v Hradci Králové [pol. 114], č. k. 20100409/04
Marie Benešová, Josef Gočár, Praha 1958, s. 50