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Brno Architecture Manual

 

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C265

AKADEMICKÉ NÁMĚSTÍ COMPETITION 1925 - 1932

 

Veveří (Veveří) Brno Střed

Public transport: Tábor (Tram 3, 11)

GPS: 49°12'30.425"N, 16°35'28.801"E

 

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The formation of Czechoslovakia following the end of World War I and the expansion of Brno to include some twenty surrounding villages precipitated the need for new urban solutions and development regulation. Problematic locations included the empty area stretching between the city centre and Žabovřesky at the base of Kraví hora, where the building of the Czech University of Technology and a number of obsolete military complexes were situated. With the establishment of Masaryk University, the University of Agriculture and the University of Veterinary Medicine in 1919, the idea was born to set up the "Academic Quarter" – a campus situated on the slopes of Kraví hora, where new university facilities, centres and the stately Akademické náměstí would grow.

The first regulatory development plan was made in 1919 by Jindřich Kumpošt, who set the direction that thoughts for the urban character of this part of the city followed until the outbreak of World War II. Kumpošt's design is rooted in the Wagnerian notion of the city as a backdrop to grand social events. The spectacular buildings of individual faculties are grouped symmetrically around the generous space of the square situated perpendicular to Veveří Street and closed by the central university building, which separates the area from the busy traffic of Veveří Street. The issue of the urban character and style of the Academic Quarter was reopened in a number of urban planning competitions and projects in the ensuing years.

Prague-based architect Alois Dryák (1872-1932) won the architectural competition in 2005. His concept, too, stemmed from classicist forms and a monumental scale, as was fairly common with architects who had graduated from the Vienna Academy. His design shows a wedge shaped square situated parallel to Veveří Street and closed by the state musical conservatory building. The sides are lined by the magnificent buildings of individual faculties; the middle of the square features a memorial and an obelisk.

The stately concept in the spirit of the classicist tradition was meant to reflect the democratic ideas of the newly formed republic. However, young left-wing avant-garde architects objected to the cost and useless splendour of the "Prague pseudo-monumental" style. Doubts over whether it was appropriate to build a triumphant square, its layout as well as the requirement for the stylistic uniformity of the buildings arose as early as the construction stage of the first of the planned buildings – the Faculty of Law. In 1931 another conceptual competition was held for the square with the addition of the Supreme Court building, followed by a lively professional discussion on the pages of Index magazine. Moreover, when Alois Dryák passed away in 1932 and Europe was facing the economic crisis, it was clear that the completion of such a generous plan was pure fantasy.

Dryák's Faculty of Law building is the only remainder of the once lofty plans for Akademické náměstí. However, the issue of the empty area near the hill and the temporary buildings on its slopes remains current to this day. The most recent competition for an urban development plan for this area involving buildings for the faculties of architecture, fine arts and the Institute of Forensic Engineering of the Brno University of Technology, took place in 2008; first prize was awarded to the as yet unrealized design by architects Ladislav Kuba and Tomáš Pilař.

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