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Roškot Theatre

Kamil Roškot

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Important events

(detail)1924 | Begininngs of the project

There was founded an organization named "Association for construction of the theatre in Ústí nad Orlicí in 1919, later there were brought forward first sketches of the theater , made by local builder Jaromír Radechovský and the association started to discuss about suitable position of the theatre.

(detail)1929 | Tendering

After the suitable locality was chosen , invitation to public tender for design of a new building was announced.

(detail)1930 | Second round of tendering

Narrower competition took place between Jaromír Radechovský and Kamil Roškot. The jury consisted of architects Josef Gočár, Antonín Ausobský and Zdeněk Wirth. This jury recommended the design of Kamil Roškot.

(detail)1934 | Final authorization of the project

Final version of revised design of Kamil Roškot was authorized. The construction was assigned to Jakub  Domanský and  František Tošovský to carry that out.

(detail)27.9.1936 | Completion of the construction

Ceremonial laying of the foundation stone took place on 5.7 1935. Final inspection was made in 1936 and shortly thereafter the ceremonial opening took place on 27.9 with the performance The Secret by Bedřich Smetana.

(detail)1978 | Commencement of the reconstruction
In 1978 the theatre was inserted to the list of cultural monuments of Czechoslovakia and the reconstruction was initiated.


(detail)Kamil Roškot |main architect

Versatile in technical, art and philosophical side of architecture with visionary projects. He gradually proceeded from classicising Modern towards Functionalist abstraction. He used pure geometric volumes in his  monumental designs. Despite generosity and architectural austerity, Roškot always respected the conditions of the surroundings and characteristics of materials. His thinking is at best represented by the building in Ústí nad Orlicí that belongs among the most interesting works of the interwar architecture. However, the majority of Roškot’s designs has remained unrealized.

Text: ing arch Kamil Dvořák, DrSc, in: Architekti v českých zemích (Prostor – AD)

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(detail)Jakub Domanský |architect

The history of his building firm before 1935 is unknown due to lack of information. After the mid 1930s, this firm constructed residential houses and roads in Prague and its surroundings. After 1948, the firm is incorporated into the Czechoslovakian Building Enterprise.


Zdeněk Wirth |jury member
(detail)Antonín Ausobský |jury member

Czech engineer.


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Alexius Appl |sculptor


The construction of a modern theatre building in Ústí nad Orlicí was connected with the amateur theatre tradition in the town the origins of which dated back to the end of the 18th century. The theatre initially played in the house of the chemist Jan Andres. At a later point, with the establishment of the first association of theatre amateurs in the year 1836, the theatre activity moved to the Lower Inn which was known locally as “Dolnice”. The stage was moved here from Andres' chemist's. In the year 1895 the new owner Friml transformed the inn into a hotel with a new stage coming about as well. A new amateur association Vicena also came into being along with the new stage. Prior to the end of the First World War, the owner of the hotel Friml decided to change the space of the theatre into a cinema, leaving the theatre amateurs without a building. An “Association for the Construction of a Theatre in Ústí nad Orlicí” emerged here in the year 1919. The first chairman of the association became the local builder Jaromír Radechovský. Prior to the construction of the new theatre building, a new stage was built in Hotel Friml in the year 1921, at the cost of the Vicena association, which served the needs of the theatre group for another 15 years. The association entered into initial negotiations regarding an appropriate construction site for the theatre in the year 1924 and began to evaluate the first drawings for the theatre submitted by the builder Radechovský. After a number of meetings concerning the purchase of land, a plot was finally chosen in the year 1929 near the court building. This land was donated to the association. The finances for the construction project were obtained exclusively as gifts from individuals and later from associations or as profits obtained from various social events. The largest contribution came from the Old Czech Carnival on the square in Ústí.

A competition was announced for the design of the building in the year 1929. The Ústí native and renowned Czech art historian Professor ThDr. PhDr. Josef Cibulka (1886-1968) actively participated in the competition as the art consultant to the association. A narrower competition between the Ústí builder Radechovský and the Prague architect Kamil Roškot, the latter of whom Cibulka personally recommended to the association, was announced on the basis of his suggestion. Both designs by the architects were submitted in April 1930. The jury included (once again due to Cibulka) the architects Josef Gočár, Antonín Ausobský and the art theoretician Zdeněk Wirth. The commission recommended the project by Roškot. On the 31st of August 1930 the association passed a resolution to accept the design of K. Roškot as the basis for further negotiations. After a number of additional meetings, Roškot's revised design was approved on the 4th of November 1934.

Kamil Roškot (1886-1945) studied construction at the German Technical University in Prague, architecture at the Czech Technical University in Prague and philosophy and art history over the years 1911-13 at Charles University in Prague. After active military service he completed his studies after the war under Jan Kotěra at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. Roškot was a remarkable figure amongst Czech architects. Roškot worked with abstract purist shapes which also exhibit a monumentality and generosity of conception. Roškot's structural plan essentially differed from the work of the majority of his Functionalist colleagues, who worked with the Mies - Le Corbusier open plan. His numerous significant realisations include the exhibition pavilions in Milan (1926-27), Chicago (1933) or New York (1939), the sluices in Vraná nad Vltavou, Brandýs nad Labem (1931) and Štechovice (1937-42) or the tomb for the Czech Kings in St. Vitus Cathedral at the Prague Castle (1934-35). One of Roškot's most significant designs was actually the theatre in Ústí nad Orlicí (1935-36).

The architect K. Roškot was commissioned with the preparation of detailed plans in November 1934. The actual construction work was assigned to ing. Domanský from Prague and František Tošovský from Ústí nad Orlicí. The building supervision was carried out by the  Ústí builder J. Radechovský. The gala placement of the foundation stone of the theatre took place on the 5th of July 1935. The construction work was begun on the 24th of June 1935. The building was officially approved on the 25th of September 1936 with the ceremonial opening of the theatre taking place on the 27th of September 1936 with the première of the opera The Secret by Bedřich Smetana.

The realised design for the theatre in Ústí nad Orlicí (1934-35) was developed out of two earlier projects by Roškot, the first theatre design for Ústí nad Orlicí from the year 1930 and the first design of the Imperial Theatre for the Škoda Works industrial complex in Tehran from the year 1933. The architect worked with simple geometric shapes in the first purely Constructivist design. In designing the floor plan of the theatre, (auditorium with a quadrant sector) Jiří Hilmer is of the opinion that the architect was inspired by the projects of the American architect Norman Bel Geddes. Roškot's typical interpenetration of volumes appears as early as the design for Tehran, here with a right-angled cube with a circular sector. The realised project is essentially a smaller version of the Tehran design with, however, the author making use of the half-circular culmination of the stage from the first project for Ústí (the project for Tehran is right-angled). The volume of the stage is most apparent in terms of the layout arising out of the circular sector floor plan and opened radially in the direction of the foyer and the entrances. This type of space was conceived for the first time in Czechoslovakia in the competitions for the folk theatres in Ostrava (1920-21) and Olomouc (1920-22). It was consequently actually employed for the first time on a much smaller scale for the theatre hall in the City Library on Mariánské náměstí square in Prague according to a project by František Roith from the year 1923. Sacral structures at the time showed an affinity with theatres in terms of these attempts at modernization and democratization of space. Of interest is the fact that prior to the year 1930, Josef Gočár constructed two two churches on a similar layout, the Ambrož Church of the Czechoslovak Hussites in Hradec Králové (1926-30) and the Catholic Church of St. Wenceslas in Prague, Vršovice (1928-30). Josef Cibulka once again sat in the jury for the competition. This was a unique attempt at the time to modernize the sacral space and consequently make the liturgy more approachable to the believers in the church. Kamil Roškot wrote the following about his design for the theatre, “My conception for the theatre was concerned with an attempt at comfort and safety for the audience and an equality amongst all the seats both on the ground floor and on the balcony.” For these reasons he elected a conical form for the stage without side balconies.


Present state:


The visitor enters through five two-winged doors into the spacious external vestibule from which one can either enter the internal vestibule with the cloakrooms or take the stairways along both sides up to the balcony. Entrance into the hall was originally provided through three symmetrically placed passages. The conically shaped auditorium contained an ascending parterre with 341 seats culminating with the arch of the original six loges and the covered balcony with 191 seats of a wide amphitheatre arrangement. The corridors leading to the toilets were placed along the sides by the architect which additionally led to the outdoor terraces.

The main arched stage is 16 metres high. The dressing rooms on two storeys with showers are adjoining along the left side. The majority of the orchestra pit is located below the stage.

A special floor with a projection room, accessible from the dressing rooms, exists for the needs of the cinema between the balcony and the ground floor. The lighting for the stage is indirect. The heating was provided via a hot-air system. Yellow upholstering material was chosen for the walls of the auditorium while the ceiling contains white coarse plaster. The chairs are from olive coloured wood while the curtain is from dark blue plush. White bronze was employed for the metal parts. The cloakrooms were created from dark wood and the foyer supplemented with three subtle light fixtures in the form of circles (today no longer extant). A separate room for smokers, originally equipped with Functionalist metal tube furniture, was situated in the foyer on the first floor behind the hall.

The rear part of the basement of the building contains the actors' entrance, the storage areas, the rehearsal room, the caretaker's flat and the engine room. Under the auditorium was a no longer existing restaurant and café with a dance hall fitted into the system of pillars. This was connected by a stairway with the vestibule of the theatre (no longer used at present), while another entrance is from the park.

The conical shape of the stage penetrates into the right-angled cube in the external form. It is articulated along the sides with terraces, thus serving to create a dynamic element akin to German Expressionist architecture. The half-circle of the heightened stage connects up with the narrowing conic-shaped auditorium. In similar fashion as with the first project, the author worked with relatively closed volumes with the walls containing a minimum of glass (see the project for Tehran). He works with lapidary shapes, contrasts and a successful play of lights and shadows in the overall composition. The building is particularly sensitively linked with the context of the surrounding architecture, although the architect did not take into account the as yet not particularly urgent question of the arrival of cars and their parking. The building is highly accessible from nearby roads. The space behind the theatre was enlarged, in all probability after the remodelling work in the year 1978, for the arrival of technical equipment and transport of set décor. The majority of the space around the theatre consists of a park.

The theatre was the property of the Czechoslovak state as of the year 1951, with the use taken over by the District Civic Centre in Ústí nad Orlicí. The theatre was registered onto the list of Cultural Monuments of the Czechoslovak State in the year 1978.

The reconstruction of the theatre was begun on the 3rd of  June 1978. Central entrance doors to the auditorium were added in the interior of the ground floor and two loges were removed in order to provide space for the needs of the newly established spaces for lighting and sound management. The technical room on the first floor was expanded into the space of the foyer. The wood cloakrooms were newly upholstered with imitation leather and the fragile circular lights were replaced by monumental gold circles by the Prague sculptor Alexius Appel. The walls received a new coat while the ceiling received a new layer of paint. The rear wall of the balcony was clad in wooden casing and the seats were replaced. Nothing has remained of the original restaurant and café A restaurant with a separate ground floor entrance and with a heavy interior from the end of the 1970s is situated at present in these rooms, while the café has been replaced by a gambling parlour. The remodelling also concerned the dressing rooms for the actors. Only certain details situated in the earlier rehearsal room have been preserved from the original period furniture. No major reconstruction or annex work has occurred, however, which would disturb the structure in a significant fashion.


- Ústí Theatre Album. Published by the Association for the Construction of a Theatre in Ústí nad Orlicí in September of the year 1936. Ústí nad Orlicí 1936.

- Volné Směry (Free Directions) XXXIII, 1936-37, pp. 246-249.

- Šlapeta, Vladimír – Černý, František, Maria, Kamil Roškot 1886-1945 (catalogue) National Technical Museum 1978.

- Sedláček, Pavel, 50 Years of Theatre in Ústí nad Orlicí 1936 – 1986, District Library in Ústí nad Orlicí 1986.

- Lukeš, Zdeněk, Kamil Roškot – 100 Years, Architecture of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic XLI, 1986, 4. 9, pp. 420-421.

- Hlaváček, Petr – Hůrka, Jiří, Kamil Roškot, The Gold Section, 1992, no. 1, pp. 8 – 13.

- Ulrich, Petr, Kamil Roškot 1886-1945, Architekt XLI, 1995, no. 13, p. 2.

- Hilmera, Jiří, Česká divadelní architektura (Czech Theatre Architecture). Prague 1999, pp. 123-124.


Tags: Functionalism, Interwar period, detached building


Author: Markéta Svobodová

Translator: David Livingstone

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