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House of Culture Ostrava

Jaroslav Fragner

alias Culture House of Ironworks Vítkovice and Klement Gottwalds´ Engineering Plant (DK VZSKG, 1973-1989), Culture House of Ironworks Vítkovice (1990-1992), Culture House of Klement Gottwalds´ Ironworks Vítkovice Working People (abbreviation VŽKG, 1964-1973), House of Culture Vítkovice (1990-1992), Culture House of Ostrava Working People (abbreviation DKPO, 1961-1963
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)1938 | Competition
An invited architectural competition took place in 1938 for the Public Education House with a concert hall and a hotel for city of Moravian Ostrava. It was won by the functionalist design by architects and brothers Čestmír  and Lubomír  Šlapeta. It has never been realized due to the political crisis and wartime events.
(detail)1941 | Competition
An architectural competition for the design of a new Culture House.  It was participated  by architects Evžen Friedl, Bohuslav Fuchs, Jan Jírovec and winning Oskar Poříska.
(detail)1954 | Competition
Invited competition for the design of culture and pioneers House took place in 1954 with participation of architects  Bohuslav Fuchs  and Miloslav Kopřiva, Antonín Černý and     Jaroslav Fragner.  National enterprise Building Constructions Opava initiated the construction of the culture house in 1956 according to the winning design by Jaroslav Fragner.
(detail)16.4.1961 | Opening

The Oldřich Stibor Theatre from Olomouc performed the play Над Днепром (Over the Dniepr) by Aleksandr Kornejchuk on the opening of the theatre. The building would be best described with the terms modern classicism, new classicism. Commencing of so called Bruselles style in the end of the 1950s is reflected in the interiors – especially in execution of some art pieces, in furniture arrangement and design of some architectural components.  


(detail)1991 | Theatre troupe

The Petr Bezruč Theatre, which had here a permanent seat since 1961, left the theatre hall and moved into the nearby building, where it established a studio stage; the theatre hall serves as a hosting stage.


(detail)90. 's 20. century | reconstruction
The overhaul in 1992 – 1994 represents the last significant interference into its appearance. It did not respect its architectural and art constitution so the whole series of interventions damaged the intactness of the whole.
(detail)2004 | culture monument
Ministry of Culture proclaimed Ostrava House of Culture as a complex protected by preservation of monuments and it is registered in the central list of culture monuments.

People

(detail)Jaroslav Fragner |main architect

Czech architect, painter and designer. He was a proponent of Cubism and Functionalism. He is known thanks to his work on restoration and renovation of Czech historical monuments as is Prague Castle, Bethelem chapel and  Karolinum.

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(detail)Jiří Kroha |architect

Had studied architecture, but in course of his career he contributed also to painting, plastic art, design and scenography. He became significant talent influenced by Cubistic impulse in 1920´s, later by Functionalism, albeit he stressed plasticity, colourfulness and  multitude of details. After WW2 he became a prominent figure of the new regime, propagating  Socialist realism and in 1960´s turned back to interwar avant-garde, while fighting  communist style of panel building.

 

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(detail)František Fiala |architect

Czech architect and city planner, significant disciple of Wagner´s school. Disciple of most important Czech architects Kotěra and Gočár. He participated on many public tenders, but usually ended up on second or third position. He worked out an alternative design for Lower Part regulation (1923, Prague) for instance.

In:

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Miloslav Kopřiva |architect - participant of the competition
Evžen Friedl |architect - participant of the competition
Jan Jírovec |architect - participant of the competition
(detail)Bohuslav Fuchs |architect - participant of the competition

One of the leading representatives of Czech Functionalism ,of  the so called Brno architectural school. With wide sense for harmony between new building and the environment, he helped to create a modern city from Brno.

Source: Archiweb

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Oskar Poříska |architect - participant of the competition
Čestmír Šlapeta |architect - participant of the competition
Lubomír Šlapeta |architect - participant of the competition
(detail)Vladimír Sychra |painter

Painter, author of allegorical mosaic designs (Drama, Opera, Ballet) above the entrances from main vestibule to inner space of theatre in Culture House of Ostrava.


(detail)Alois Fišárek |painter

The author of the tapestry and the curtain in the musical hall (destroyed) and the stylized figural composition with the name A fairy tale once and today; fairytale once, reality today (destroyed).

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(detail)Vladimír Kristin |sculptor

A Czech painter, engaged in stage designing in the National Theatre of Silesia-Moravia from 1924. At first, he was influenced by Civilism in the 1920s and later by Paul Cezanne and his in colours conceived space, in the 1930s depicting mainly sceneries and still life. His main focus was shifted to realistic panoramas of Ostrava in the after war period.

In:


(detail)Vlastimil Večeřa |sculptor

Sculptor, author of statues on frontage attic of Culture House of Ostrava city: „Music“,“ Sculpture“, „Sport“ or „Violinist“, „ Sculptor“, „Athlete“.


(detail)Jiří Myszak |sculptor

Sculptor, author of statues on frontage attic of Culture House of Ostrava city: “Work with children”, “Innovator”,”Chemistry” or “Mother”, “Laboratory technician”.

 

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(detail)Stanislav Hanzík |sculptor

Sculptor, author of the bronze sculptural group “Youth” and “Girl´s secret”, inserted in the fountains that were designed by J. Fragner in vicinity of the House of Culture in Ostrava.

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(detail)Eva Kršková |sculptor

Sculptor, author of limestone sculptural group “Young life” behind Culture House of Ostrava in cooperation with K. Pavlis.


(detail)Vladislav Martínek |sculptor

Sculptor, the author of plaster reliefs with theatre motives in the theatre vestibule.


(detail)Vjačeslav Irmanov |sculptor

He created bronze reliefs depicting the concrete working operation of smelters and casters for the ceremonially conceived interior in the front of the largest hall with monumental colonnade.

In: Šťastná Marie: Socha ve městě. Vztah plastiky a architektury v Ostravě ve 20. Století. Brno 2009. note 385

 


Otakar Petroš |sculptor

History

In the end of 19th and in the course of 20th century, national or culture house as a specific architectural type became modern centre of culture and social life of secularized, nationally and afterwards  class divided society, in which the culture was worshiped and consumed as a peak of artistic endeavour of modern man. This manifested itself in the establishment of a specific type of buildings, difficultly assembling an array of relatively hardly compatible functions in more or less complicated organization and with it related spaces as a concert, a theatre, lecture halls, exhibition halls, club rooms, libraries, cinemas, restaurants and cafes. One of such objects is Culture House of Ostrava City, build in 1956- 1961. But this was preceded by a long evolution.

Three buildings were erected in Moravian Ostrava in the time of Austria-Hungary for cultural purposes and programme: the Czech National House (1892–1894, arch. Josef Srb), the German House 1892–1895, arch. Felix Neumann) and the Polish House (1899–1900, arch. Stanislaw Bandrowski). Whilst Czech society adopted the expression of the strict Renaissance Revival architecture, the German society House was characterized by the inclination to North Renaissance tradition of fair-faced brick. These form expressed national ambitions of the local German minority, constituting the predominant cultural and political force and exercising the control over Moravian Ostrava municipal hall up to establishment of the Czechoslovak republic. Theatre operated both in the Czech and German House, the latter was torn down after the Second World War, whereas the Czech House was fully reconstructed to theatre purposes and it is presently the seat of the Jiří Myron Theatre. Various theatre companies were giving guest performances in the Polish House, however, this institution has not played any important role in the after war period.

After 1918, the priority was to construct administrative palaces related with representation of the Moravian Ostrava city and firms, which conducted business on its territory. Cultural ambitions were concentrated on the exhibition hall building – Culture House- according to the design by Vladimír Walenfels and František Fiala, the Prague disciples of Jan Kotěra. New cinemas were built and new buildings as for instance Miner's House, in which different departmental authorities had a seat together with a cafe and a cinema in the ground floor and mezzanine floor of the building. Multi functional structures dedicated solely to the culture came into the centre of attention after economic depression had subsided and concurrently in the moment, when the Czech national society existence was endangered. An invited architectural competition took place in 1938 for the Public education House with a concert hall and a hotel for city of Moravian Ostrava. It was won by architects and brothers Čestmír (1908–1999) and Lubomír (1908–1983) Šlapeta with the cooperation of architect and acoustics specialist Arne Hošek (1885–1941) with the modest but impressive functionalist design. It has never been realized due to the political crisis and wartime events.

Another attempt to create a new centre of the culture was an architectural competition for the design of a new Culture House for the most industrial Ostrava district Vítkovice in 1941. It was participated not only by prominent Brno avant-garde architects Oskar Pořísek (1897–1982) and Bohuslav Fuchs (1895–1972), but by Ostrava architects Jan Jírovec (1901–?) and Evžen Friedl (1909–1954) as well. The latter ones presented a joint design still fully in scientific Functionalism trend. The winning project by Pořísek and the design by Fuchs manifested an adverse reaction, more frequent since the middle of 1930s, to austere scientific functionalism, promoted since the middle of the 1920s by architects around the theoretician and architecture critic Karel Teige (1901–1951). Artistic inclination to a monumental form, psychologically justified by the order and quaintness and emotionally based on the return to the traditional architectonic motives, became determining further for another phase of Czech architecture after 1945.

After the liberation, initially the situation progressed in the favour of the functionalistic programme renewal of Czech architecture, however, the first steps during building industry integration – Stavoprojekt and Czechoslovakian Building Company (1948) – bore a centralization principle, central planning and rampant surveillance and the control by the state party governing since 1948. But protuberances of the Socialist realism appeared immediately after the liberation. In Ostrava surroundings, a testimony of it is classicizing and close to its Soviets prototypes the Liberation Memorial and the Red Army mausoleum in Komenského park by architect Jan Jírovec and sculptor Karel Vávra from 1945–1946.

An open clash between modern art and an ideologically legitimated work became apparent even before the February putsch in 1948, when continually more frequent attacks emerged against modern art and functionalism. The latter one had allegedly to retreat from ideologically more advanced Socialist realism, which should have been „class-conscious by its content and national by its form“ There were signals demonstrating which direction should take the work of „new socialist“ architects such as a perishing of Architekt SIA magazine, assaultive articles against the cosmopolitan, therefore modern architecture, liquidating attacks against theoretician of modern architecture Karel Teige and emergence of  bimonthly journal the Sovietic architecture (1951–1955).

Vague directives, how the new socialist architecture should look like, were the result of political coercion on absolutely nationalized architectural commune. It was followed by clumsy searching for convenient forms in the realm of historical and national architecture reminiscences, most frequently Renaissance or Neo-Renaissance. One still proceeded somewhat subliminally from functionalistic thesis in the construction, layout and overall planning standpoint. Town planning was overwhelmed by compositional principles derived from the tradition of classicism, reshaping the heritage of antiquity in the favour of the absolutist conception of the space as a static order, so different from the dynamics of modern society. Political order was manifested in the architectural production by maneuvering between style aspects of the Palladian Renaissance of the 16th century and the Czech Neo-Renaissance of the 19th century, a foothold in the forefront was occupied by Russian Classicism of the turn  of the 18th  and 19th century turn  and period examples of Stalinist architecture from USSR.

This second phase, in realizations essentially more fundamental, of the ideological architecture in Ostrava district is presented  in our short outline by two designs of the consecutively built culture houses. The first one became a design component of the centre of the suburb Ostrava – Stalingrad – Bělský les (nowadays Ostrava – Zábřeh) from 1952. This emerged on a newly constructed square according to the design by period official ideologue and former avant-garde architect Jiří Kroha (1883–1974) in 1956–1959. He designed this as a dominant and a solitaire shaping the south side of the square. The compact volume of the building arrangement is unveiled in two stages. Main wing with entrance elevation, emphasized by a column order and sculptures of worker and workwoman, is connected with the central hall wing, in the right angle and in the longitudinal axis of the building, with symmetrically expanded outer pyramidal apposition of the volumes arrangement.  The architecture of the building is arranged in a conservative manner, the principle of symmetry dominates. Nevertheless Kroha and his colleagues stuck to the austere conception, close to the late-Classicism and Empire architecture of the first half of the 19th century, even since the initial variants of the design.

A much more important action had an essentially more representative programme, a plan to build a culture house on the main line – then Gottwald Avenue- between  hitherto Ostrava centre and so-called New Ostrava. Invited competition for the design of culture and pioneers House took place in 1954. Its participation was attended by architect Jaroslav Fragner (1898–1967) with design processed jointly with team of Academy of fine arts in Prague, two Brno architects Bohuslav Fuchs (1895–1972) and Miloslav Kopřiva (1894–1968) participated with the joint design and Prague architect Antonín Černý with the independent design as well. A part of the competition was to create a general concept of Gottwald avenue arrangement in the area between Republic square and Mariánské Hory, in the location of the nowadays 28th October Avenue with Výstavní Street crossing.

Hana Stašková described the aim of the competition in the article Town planning and arrangement  questions in the competing designs for the Culture and Pioneers House in Ostrava, published in the union magazine Architektura ČSR, as follows: „The second competition for the  elaboration of the culture house and region pioneers House in Ostrava studies was connected with a  substantial task of town planning solution of the Gottwald Avenue development, which should interconnect new and old Ostrava. Both the designed buildings should be located in the east part of the avenue, where is possible to initiate the first phase of the construction. One takes into account the future construction of other public buildings, Museum of Ostrava building and Young Theatre, with residential houses addition, with the establishment of an acclamation square, with positioning of the Klement Gottwald monument and with an access to sport complex solution in the north part of this area. “ The article continues by critics of the competition conditions, which according to H. Stašková: „did not determined clearly the architectural role of the Gottwald Avenue volume  in a wider town planning concept “. The author  deduced from it, that „unclearness, which emerged by too strict set of the task, unnecessarily aggravated  the work of designers and made more difficult to evaluate the competition results.“

The author of the article criticised the design by B. Fuchs and M. Kopřiva for a wrongly chosen  relation between the square and the main avenue, respectively a relation of the main avenue area with Culture and Pioneers House and the square connecting to it, where they placed only the Young Theatre building. According to her, by this they failed to let the space of the square to prevail over the space of other parts of new development of the selected boulevard.

Stašková criticised the design by Jaroslav Fragner for abstractness in square shaping, because: „ The Young Theatre is even here adjoined to the culture house volume apart of the

acclamation square, therefore only some public building of yet unspecified purpose has been left for this area. “ She was occupied  more in detail by the scale and form of the town planning and architectural concept of the design. She stated about the town planning solution by  J. Fragner: that: „we could find some certain advantages in the town planning concept of the complex around culture house, albeit it is considerably dependent on the  Functionalistic principles especially of Nordic architecture.“ The mentions about Functionalism were yet dangerous in 1954, because the official structures of the Stalinist regime interpreted it as a Cosmopolitism, ergo the architecture serving enemy imperialism and capitalism. Stašková tried to counterbalance this negative judgement by emphasizing the positive aspects of Fragner´s design – for instance: „this concept enables to express architectural emphasis by considerable articulation of spaces, avoiding  schematisation and contrasts of the individual volume components when a certain intimacy is preserved. “

However, H. Stašková refused the design by J. Fragner in the conclusion of mentioned paragraph mainly because of the chosen scale point of view: „This character (of the design – author´s note), underlined furthermore by low height of development, does not correspond to the character of the important public space of the large industrial city. It is the principle rather applicable for a minor city or for spaces of a different type than the arterial road of the Gottwald Avenue.“ Thepassage about mentioned design is concluded by a more general critique of J. Fragner´s work: „It seems, that the author´s individuality, which is expressed in a sort of , fear of ostentation’ in many cases, is not here in the harmony with the problematic of the given task.“

Jury member, architect Karel Stráník repeated the same in other words, as H. Stašková rebuked, in the article Comments to competition for the design of the Culture House and  Pioneer House in Ostrava. He stated, that „the design by prof. Fragner –by  refined architectural conception- did not express well the desired character of the important avenue of the regional industrial city.“ In short, that the design was not enough monumental for the jury members and the writer, ergo that it did not comply with period official conception, what is monumentality and how it should be architectonically expressed. Nor the joint design by B. Fuchs and M. Kopřiva „became to be […] a contribution“, howbeit „it reached furthest in town planning solution“. The design by Antonín Černý did not also „avoided […] essential defects, which would impede the  proper building usage“.

The same issue of periodical Architektura ČSR published article Some  extracts from expert jury report. Accumulation of three separate texts concerning one competition documents how the editors  put great significance on this given theme and that the observation of the ideologically and politically highlighted structural type – culture house- will bring  concrete benefits. We present an extract from the report, dedicated to the culture house design by Fragner for it enables us to comprehend the period preferences, mode of argumentation and thinking. Among other, this is stated in the mentioned appraisal text: Designer´s intent to enhance Gottwald Avenue in the projected segment by various and graceful spaces, often in smaller scale enclosures, is in the accordance with architecture of individual buildings. Moderation and austerity contrasts well with the diversity of spaces and it will capture the attention by the  long term appeal thanks to the multi-faceted compositional means of the main architectonic accents. The jury is however of that opinion, that author did not put   correctly the measure and significance of architecture of old and new Ostrava main avenue, especially by some parts for instance of  Pioneers House and he forms in many places even the rhythm of the main volume and spaces in a small scale, not proportional to the acclamation square and surrounding development.

 

The unity of designed buildings architecture with general town planning intent gives the character to the individual objects both in the volume arrangement and in their expression as well. The effort for simple grandeur and spatial impact of culture house architecture is presented by looser application of classical heritage. Restrained festiveness of the main columnar motive of the entrance and community parts is underlined by a spatial scaling of volumes in the main perspectives from the Gottwald Avenue and it culminates in a silhouette of statues topping the whole composition. Architecture of the club wing is too simple, even stark and protruded area behind the doors of the side entrance has a disturbing effect. Excessive articulation of  the layout, as a consequence of the effort to express the individual component outwards, led to a non compact arrangement, which is obvious in rear perspectives. The building plan is altogether kept. Loose layout, chosen by the architect, is transparent and clear, but it does not create a sufficiently dispersive space in the front of the main entrance.“

The winning design by Fragner is preserved in several variants in sketches, drawings and colorized prints from 1954, deposited in Fragner file in the Archive of Architecture and Buildings of the National Technical Museum in Prague. The drawings have depicted Fragner´s searching for an acceptable architectural form, sober, based on the tectonic principles of modern classicism in the period of the transition of the orthodox socialist realism peak era to its rapid fading in the connection with the critique of adoration in USSR and moderate attenuation of the Stalinist persecution. Not only Czech society was  heading towards a crisis of totalitarian leadership organization after Stalin´s  and Gottwald´s death in spring 1953, towards a construct about „the personality cult ” camouflaging the general crookedness of a totalitarian organization of the society and towards disentanglement of the given situation. The denounce of the personality cult  on 20th congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the spring 1956 had in the Soviet satellites an appearance of the subsequent partial disintegration and immediately afterwards the forced, however only a partial, stabilization of the system. 

Culture house project and its realization in the second half of the 1950s mirrors faithfully the changes, which occurred in the political and subsequently in the art sphere of this period. The author with coworkers (J. Lácha etc.) originally reworked  to some extent conservative, even though moderate Fragner´s  Neo-Classicism from 1954 into the variant (finished in 1961),  in which is visible  the classicist fundament including artwork and craft quality. The building shows as well, in which way the author picked up the threads of the style changes in the second half of the 1950 and of his own work from the 1940s. Complexity and therefore the difficult possibility of classification of this culture house architecture manifested itself among others by the fact, that even the author, who never had been, as we are going to show, an adherent of Socialist Realism, participated on demolishing the myth of Stalinist architecture on the inaugural meeting of the Czechoslovakian  Architects Union in April 1954.

Complexity manifests itself in the interpretation of given architectural work even in the present. Meanwhile Radomíra Sedláková acknowledges „the purely classicising spirit“ to the culture house apart of several other buildings, according to her opinion it represents a component of so called Sorela, Socialist realism. Historian of architecture Rostislav Švácha supported with evidence in Jaroslav Fragner: Drawnings and designs, that the attacks of Stalinist ideologists were aimed on Fragner because „ they felt, that Fragner completely ignored the pompous Soviet Socialist realism in his work from first half of the 1950s.“  It is corresponding with the period H. Stašková reference and simultaneously rebuke about „the fear of ostentation”, by which  she labelled Fragner´ s work with a certain negative implication.

His work was markedly different from the overwhelming majority of the orthodox Socialist realism examples, emphasizing Classicism or Renaissance historic inspiration and employing  a realistic art decoration with motives and components of ideological significance (stars, hammers and sickles, blue-collar attributes and so on) . The comparison of the mentioned opinion positions leads us to the conclusion, that it is not possible to comprehend Fragner´s culture house simply as a work of the Socialist Realism, but rather as an example of a new Classicism architecture  with elements derived both from the  former Fragner´s work and from the influence of ingoing Brussels style. That, what approximates the building to the phenomenon of Socialist Realism, is primarily the application of realist art pieces thematically interconnected with the cult of work and with the adoration of blue collars and simultaneously accent on festiveness and decorativeness of the interiors - for instance sculpture decoration on the front elevation, in vestibule of the  music-hall and the hall, decoration of the puppet theatre auditorium, the application of the columns decorated by marbling.

National enterprise Building Constructions Opava initiated the construction of the culture house in the location of former cemetery gardening next to the hitherto city cemetery and the local crematorium. Burials were prohibited in the cemetery among other with the regard to the reconstruction of the period Gottwald Avenue and to the construction of the culture house already in 1953. The commencement of the construction meant as well the  commencement of the reconstruction of this important arterial road into the form of central city area, dedicated to state celebrations, parades and manifestations. A design, corresponding to it, emerged for arrangement of the Gottwald Avenue, from which should have become the  most important rod between old capitalistic and new socialist Ostrava, being built on the west side of Odra river,  from the symbolical and ideological point of view as the period press stated. An important component of an ideological conception of the project was the artistic programme of the building. The structure should have, from the structural point of view, encompassed a large music-hall, an independent theatre, a cinema, a puppet scene, an  exhibition hall, halls for interest groups (dance and music) and a clubroom. Emphasis from the form point of view was stressed on a realistic expression and a monumental form of applied art pieces. Classicist forms corresponded to this according the ideas of the middle of the 1950s, applied in the form of the symmetrically designed entrance portico, classically measured other parts of the building, the volume layout and the  articulation of the front facade. In the continuity of Fragner´s work, the mentioned conception has however a first stage in his competing design for the National Assembly from 1947, emphasized by the massive protruded portico and  topped by sculpture group by Vincenc Makovský.

The entrance bay of the culture house is covered by travertine slabs, other parts of the frontage have ceramic cladding and stone cladding of the reveal openings. Entrance portals are usually from travertine, window jamb from sandstone, openings have classical vertical conception. Spatial and proportional layout of the representative spaces – vestibules and halls is derived from classicism as well. We can perceive a late modernist aesthetics in some elements and details – for instance in the acoustic ceilings of the theatre and former cinema, in the wainscoting of the  theatre walls, in lining of the hall annex of the musical-hall or in the fluorescent chandeliers and the main representative rooms ceilings.

The surroundings of the house is complemented by two fountains according to the design by Fragner with bronze sculptures by Stanislav Hanzík, an absolvent of the Prague Academy of Fine Arts, called Girl´s Secret and The Youth. The fountain with the sculpture group The Youth is a lengthwise pool close to the main frontage, arranged with its longer side in concord with 28th October Street. We can find the fountain with the sculpture group Girl´s Secret by the west frontage of the side wing of the former cinema, the puppet theatre and other halls. Both the sculpture groups are characterized by a soft lyric expression, successive to the  Czech modern sculpture tradition. Apparent erotic energy represented a convenient animation of the overall concept of the culture house. That was inadmissible for then straightlaced society. Especially the sculpture group The Youth allegedly disgusted the part of the conservative public after its introduction in April 1961 in its form of a nude girl and boy, so its removal was being considered. That have never happened, probably because of the wider openness in the turbulent development of the society in the 1960s.

Sculptures by Vlastimil Večeřa should have been located on the attics of the main frontage. Večeřa created in the end only three sculptures (Music - Violinist, Sculpture – Sculptor, Sport-  Athlete) and other three are the work ofJiří Myszak (Work with Children – Mother, Innovator, Chemistry - laboratory technician). Both the sculptors tried  to achieve an expression monumentality, however part of the figures is a bizarre attempt for a monumental expression. It is most evident in the uncontrolled contrapost, in compositional concept of drapery, in figure constitution and in reciprocal disharmony. There was a schematic bronze sculpture of communist president and dictator Klement Gottwald by Stanislav Mikuláštík in above life-size in the front of the middle club wing.

Other works were used in the interior: these are figural mosaics by painter Vladimír Sychra above the entrances to the theatre. Stucco reliefs in the foyer of the theatre were created by Vladislav Martínek. Relief by sculptor Straka was placed above the portal and the iron curtain was decorated by Arnošt Paderlík. Reliefs Mining, Metallurgy and Agriculture  by Vjačeslav Irmanov hang in the antechamber of the musical-hall. Relief Metallurgy had a very different and more famous premiere. It was placed together with other sculpture works of the Prague Fine Arts Academy graduates in the vestibule of the EXPO 58 Czechoslovakian pavilion in Brussels, from where it was transported to the Ostrava culture house.

A curtain with a motive of colourful ribbons, formulated in “Brussels” style, and with a motive of a garland with doves hanged on the wall, broken by the windows of the main elevation, in the musical hall among other because of the acoustical reasons, it was the works according to the design by painter Alois Fišárek. The space above the portal mirror was embellished by the metal relief with music motives, formulated in “Brussels” style again, by sculptor  Otakar Petroš. The one entire wall in the vestibule of the musical hall was dominated by the large  realistically conceived painting by Vladimír Kristin named characteristically New Ostrava. Alois Fišárek participated on the decoration of the puppet theatre hall as well, where he created a composition in the spirit of “Brussels” style stylized figural composition with complicated name : A fairy tale once and today; fairytale once, reality today. An array of the mentioned art pieces was, however, removed or completely destroyed in the course of the years. It concerns especially the works of Alois Fišárek – as in the ending of the main hall as in the decoration of the puppet theatre, which has been destructively reconstructed into a presently non functioning recording studio. Unfortunately metal reliefs were removed from the theatre portals and musical hall, apart some exceptions, the paintings have disappeared from the public spaces of the house of culture  including the large Kristin’s canvas New Ostrava.

Present state

The theatre, to which is this entry dedicated, is in the rear part of the culture house main wing and it is accessed from the main entrance vestibule by three oblong entrances, above which figural allegoric mosaics Drama, Opera and Ballet according to the design by painter Vladimír Sychra are mounted. A minor theatre vestibule is behind the stairs. Oblong plaster reliefs by sculptor Vladislav Martínek with theatre motives are set on the wall against the main entrances. There is a buffet in the space above them. The mentioned entrance area is connected by lateral corridors leading to the theatre hall ground floor and by lateral staircases with a balcony and a side galleries in the storey of the hall. The actual theatre has a traditional layout with proscenium. There are 316 seats in the ground floor and 260 seats in the storey on the balcony and in the side galleries. The hall has altogether 576 seats.

The hall is covered by wooden, dark blue wainscoting, linoleum covers the floor, although there should have been blue in the ground floor and in the stories red or gray carpet according to the original design. It is not very well visible from the places in the lateral galleries, especially in the second row, which reduce its serviceability. The most distinct motive of the hall is an organically shaped ceiling in the form of fluid waves. The theatre had a classical, traditional proscenium stage with boxes on the sides, balcony and gallery in the original design. All this could have been topped by a domed ceiling with a central motif of crystal chandelier according the pattern of town theatres from the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Only the changes in the project led the author and his co-workers to more modern forms including the mentioned ceiling. In spite of the changes in the project, the hall is characterized by certain compromises, especially in the usage of side galleries and in some practical issues as is for instance the position of the sound booth.

The stage is arranged in such a manner: the proscenium is 11.2 m wide and 3.8 m deep. The portal is 7.9 m wide and 5 m high. The stage is  17.5 wide and 11 m deep. The theatre hall has a reconstructed turntable and  trap room at its disposal. Sound equipment is arranged for classical drama, but it fits for musical productions or concerts as well. It is possible to  use this movable loudspeaker system in all the halls of the House of Culture. Sound distribution of the side galleries, where is bad audibility, is provided by this movable active speakers.   Existing equipment fit the contemporary utilization of the theatre. The location of the sound booth is not favourable, therefore a movable audio mixer is being installed into a wall pocket in the stage – a small one with 8 entries or a bigger one with 20 entries for a better contact with actors.

Lighting equipment is divided into the  auditorium and  stage part. The auditorium lighting has 5 fluently regulated circuits, 4 integrated circuits in the auditorium ceiling and 1 circuit is the gallery walls. It is utilized for arrival and leaving of spectators, for conferences and lectures. The stage part enables the lighting of the theatre stage and individual circuits are distributed so : 14  reflectors on the stage, 16 reflectors on the auditorium loft and 65 reflectors on the stage and 16 regulated circuits in the stage floor. Air-conditioning was equipped by baffles in the theatre hall, this enables to use it even during the course of productions.

Ostrava House of Culture represents a structurally, art and operationally complicated unit comprising in itself the contrasts of the era  and the  testimony about the possibilities of that time. Its component is the abovementioned theatre stage as well. The theatre part has been preserved in structurally intact state, only technical parts of lighting and sound park has been changed.

The overhaul in 1992 – 1994 represents the last significant interference into its appearance. It did not respect its architectural and art constitution so the whole series of interventions damaged the intactness of the whole. The reconstruction concerned for instance the area of the side wing with the cinema, which has been destroyed. A restaurant has been inserted into the vestibule. Even the minor puppet stage perished, when its hall was converted into the presently non functioning recording studio. Musical and ballet hall in the first floor were considerably damaged, they have preserved at least their spatial layout. Utilitarian interferences did not avoid the connecting club wing, from where the original doors with glass  luxfer  partitions for  lighting of the corridors in the central block disappeared  with only minor exceptions.  The lecture hall was later converted into a minor cinema hall and a fitness studio emerged in the part of the ground floor and basement of the middle block and in the area of the former cinema. Radical interferences were executed in the musical hall as well – for instance the metal relief in the front of the portal mirror disappeared, the main elevation windows were walled up because of the acoustic reasons, Fišárek’s curtain was removed and organs, originally from Prague Palace of Culture, were inserted into the hall.

Despite this negative interventions, Ostrava House of Culture has preserved a lot from its architectural and art value. Therefore Ministry of Culture proclaimed it including surrounding park arranged area, a couple of fountains and a couple of poles as a complex protected by preservation of monuments and it is registered in the Central list of culture monuments under registration number 101234.    

 

Sources and literature:

 – Národní technické muzeum v Praze, Archiv architektury a stavitelství, fond č. 139 – Jaroslav Fragner

– Hana Stašková, Urbanistické a komposiční otázky v soutěžních projektech na kulturní a pionýrský dům v Ostravě, Architektura ČSR XIII, 1954, s. 235–241

– Karel Stráník, Poznámky k soutěži na projekty kulturního domu a domu pionýrů v Ostravě, Architektura ČSR XIII, 1954, s. 244–246

– Některé výňatky ze zprávy soutěžní poroty, Architektura ČSR XIII, 1954, s. 246–250

– Gottwaldova třída v Ostravě: Soutěž na ideový návrh, Architektura ČSR XV, 1956, s. 318–321

10 let: Dům kultury VŽKG Ostrava, Ostrava 1971

– Josef Bartuška, Dům kultury pracujících Vítkovic, in: Ostrava: Sborník příspěvků k dějinám a výstavbě města 13, Ostrava 1985, s. 513–518

– Ladislav Němec, 100 let ostravské architektury V: Na přelomu 50.–60. let, Kulturní měsíčník II, 1984, č. 2, s. 10–11

– Radomíra Sedláková, Sorela: Česká architektura padesátých let (kat.), Praha 1994, s. 29 a 50

– Jiří Hilmera, Česká divadelní architektura, Praha 1999, s. 142

– …? (ed.?), Jaroslav Fragner: Náčrty a plány (kat.), Praha 1999

– JŠt [Jiří Štefanides], Divadelní budovy a sály, in: Kulturněhistorická encyklopedie Slezska a severovýchodní Moravy I. (A-M), Ostrava 2005, s, 192

– JŠt [Jiří Štefanides], Divadlo Petra Bezruče, tamtéž, s, 200–201

– Marie Šťastná, Socha ve městě: Vztah architektury v Ostravě ve 20. století; Ostrava 2008, s. 100–101

– Martin Strakoš, Průvodce architekturou Ostravy; Ostrava 2009, s. 56–57

 

 

Tags: Communist Czechoslovakia, Culture house, detached building, Neoclassicism, Socialist realism

 

Author: Strakoš Martin

Translator: Jan Purkert

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