Address: Eliščino nábřeží 626, Hradec Králové
Public transport: Muzeum (BUS 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, zelená; TROLEJBUS 3, 7), Adalbertinum (BUS 5, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 23, TROLEJBUS 2, 6)
GPS: 50.211098, 15.828716
Date: 1922 (P) 1922–1924 (R)
Architect: Jan Kotěra
Investor: Město Hradec Králové
Trail: The River Trail
As early as 1907, Jan Kotěra planned an inconspicuous tenement house with a beveled corner for the corner plot in the immediate vicinity of the Museum with a view of the building from the opposite bank of the Elbe. However, the plan to develop this plot of land did not come about until after the First World War.
At the end of 1919, Mayor Ulrich sent Kotěra a letter with the following text: “There is an intention to develop the corner plot opposite the Museum. I take the liberty of sending you the project drawn up by the architect Liska for your kind consultation and your kind opinion as to whether the design would not be detrimental to the building.” Apparently Kotěra did not like Liska’s design for the corner plot next to the Museum and started working on it himself.
The development project was not demanding. It was to address the housing shortage that had hit all of Europe after WWI, and it was to house two municipal offices. The three-story building designed by Kotěra was supposed to include economical but sufficient apartments, and offices for the city’s electricity and gas companies on the ground floor. During the autumn of 1922 (between September and October), two versions of the project were produced, differing in minor details (the roof pitch and the shopfront structure). The building on a triangular plan with a sharp corner did not have a simple layout: Kotěra designed three stairwells, each with a separate entrance from the street. The offices on the ground floor and in the basement had a separate entrance on the corner. Above the entrance, there was a spacious terrace. On the upper floors, there were two- or three-room apartments, each with a kitchen and a separate bathroom, which became standard after the war. The sharp, beveled corner is flanked by two cylindrical towers – bay windows enclosed by a conical roof.
The faux-stone façade is framed by a deep lesene framework and the windows have deep, chamfered jambs. The ground floor with shopfronts is divided by decorative fields with crystalline panels. The entrances and staircases are decorated with decorative grilles designed by Kotěra.
The building represents Kotěra’s post-war inclination towards historical synthesis. The architect also designed the monumental headquarters of the Vítkovice Metallurgical and Mining Company in Prague and the monumental Ringhoffer Works headquarters in Prague-Smíchov. He expected prominent commissions for ministerial and other government buildings in the Petrská quarter and during the summer of 1921 he was involved in the design of President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk’s apartment at Prague Castle. Along with the headquarters of the Vítkovice Metallurgical and Mining Company, the Hradec Králové municipal apartment building with offices for the gas and electricity companies is the only example of Kotěra’s final work comparable to the contemporary architectural style and Kotěra’s contemporaries from the Vienna circle, Hubert Gessner or Leopold Bauer. At the same time, however, Kotěra was adopting the receding forms of Cubism, which he saw only as one of the decorative forms, not as a tectonic system. As for the Municipal House in Hradec Králové, the crystalline panels of the fields between the shopfronts and entrances in the building’s ground floor are proof of this.
The building housed a research library until 2009, and between 2009 and 2014 the city library. In 2014–2015, the façade was completely renovated; the basement and ground floor were converted into an information center, the roofing was replaced; new flats were built into the roof trusses, changing the roof pitch; and a strip window was built into the corner section, extending into the two turrets.
The Municipal House is part of the the protected urban conservation area in Hradec Králové.
- Ladislav Zikmund-Lender, Struktura města v zeleni: Moderní architektura v Hradci Králové, Hradec Králové 2017
- Ladislav Zikmund-Lender, Jan Kotěra v Hradci, Hradec Králové 2016
- Jakub Potůček, Hradec Králové: Architektura a urbanismus 1895-2009, Hradec Králové 2009
- Marie Benešová, František Toman, Jan Jakl, Salón republiky: Moderní architektura Hradce Králové, Hradec Králové 2000
- Vladimír Šlapeta (ed.), Jan Kotěra: Zakladatel moderní české architektury: 1871-1923, Praha 2001