The factories of brothers David and Bedřich Fanto were founded in Pardubice in 1899 and processed kerosene. Before WWI, the Fanto brothers had their own production in Halíč. Gradually, they added the processing of crude oil imported from the United States or Iran, and the production of paraffin, asphalt emulsion, lubricating oil, and coal tar. At the turn of
the 1920s and 1930s, the company had twelve refineries throughout Czechoslovakia, with
the largest remaining in Pardubice. Thanks to the development of road transport and
the democratization of motoring, the demand for and availability of petrol increased rapidly. Building up a network of petrol stations was thus the domain of a few producers: alongside Sphinx, it was the Fanto plant which, thanks to the strategic location of its refineries, was able to supply the whole of Czechoslovakia evenly.
Josef Gočár became the exclusive architect of the Fanto petrol stations. Quite a few stations were built according to his design: in Řepy, Klárov, Strašnice and Kbely in Prague, in České Budějovice, in Moravská Ostrava, in Karsbad in 1934; in Chomutov, in Žižkov and Josefov
in Prague, Hrdlořezy and Duchcov in 1935; in Prague-Ruzyně, Štěrboholy and Brno in 1936; in Motol and Krč in Prague in 1940; and in Zlín in 1941–1942, where a warehouse was adjacent to it. At this time Gočár also designed several petrol stations which were never built: in Pilsen in 1934, in Bratislava, Hrabovka and Zbořenec in 1935, and in Mladá Boleslav in 1937. In addition, Gočár's estate also preserved designs for petrol stations in Vysočany (1934), Loket (1935-1936), Humpolec (for the investor Vacuum Oil, 1942–1943) and Košíře (undated) where the Kuzbach car mechanic workshop was to be built. In addition, several undated, perhaps type designs for Fanto petrol stations have survived as well. Zdeněk Lukeš and Pavel Panoch consider the basic prototype of the petrol station to be “a box-shaped kiosk with a pair of petrol stands protruding, covered by a straight awning supported by subtle pillars. [Gočár] elaborated this simple model into a series of remarkable solutions. He rounded off the fronts of the kiosks with a convex all-glass showcase, enlivened the plain facades with pergolas of climbing flora, or fitted their roofs with letterpress or relief-cut creations of advertising signs and slogans.” However, as the designs themselves show, Gočár rather arrived at a certain typology, which he artfully varied and supplemented.
Gočár's project in Hradec Králové is dated 23 June 1934. The station was to stand on
a circular island in today’s Dukelská Street. The station had an oval ground plan, covered by an oval awning. A transverse passage led through the center (which was supposed to pass from the side road to the main road), and there were petrol stands in the focal points of
the ellipsoid. The stands led into a tank located behind the station towards the intersection of Karlova, Střelecká and Resslova streets. A small kiosk with convex glazing was located in
the larger kidney-shaped formation towards the city, which contained a toilet. The awning was accompanied by the inscriptions “Fanto” and “Fantolin.” As for the morphology, Lukeš comments: “In terms of the plan, [Gočár] preferred an oval scheme for the islands of
the complexes, but in the designs from the late 1930s and 1940s, perhaps due to
the influence of the emerging organic aesthetic, one can also find kidney-shaped formations.” The choice of an oval or kidney-shaped plan was hardly Gočár's aesthetic choice, but it was due to the fact that oval or kidney-shaped forms corresponded to the delineation of islands in the middle of busy roadways in cities; they could hardly be rectangular. This was also the case with the irregular “organic” shape of the frontage of the secondary and main roadway in Dukelská Street, terminating in an oval for a petrol station.
The petrol station design was apparently not realized, although it does not appear in the list of realized or unrealized petrol station designs compiled by Maria Benešová in 1958. Gočár’s design of the beginning of today’s Dukelská Street (the division into the main and secondary roadways and the oval island with the petrol station) has not been traced on any local plans or aerial photographs from the 1930s. However, we cannot rule out that it have stood in Hradec Králové for a few years.
The project was never built
- Národní technické muzeum, Archiv architektury a stavitelství, fond č. 14, Josef Gočár, návrh Fantovy benzinové stanice v Hradci Králové, karton č. 20101013/02
Marie Benešová, Josef Gočár, Praha 1958, s. 49
Zdeněk Lukeš; Pavel Panoch; Daniela Karasová; Jiří T. Kotalík, Josef Gočár, Praha 2010, s. 237–238