CZECH HOUSING DEVELOPMENT FROM 1945 TO 1964
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The article treats the subject of Czech housing development after the Second World War. The topic of residential architecture after the war is connected with the industrialisation of the building industry and the construction of housing estates. Scientific functionalism and rationalism in the interwar period were preoccupied with the ideal of industrialised, mass housing, liberated from artistic ambitions and intended for the broad masses. This was the main theme of post-war Czech and European housing development. The Czech architects Karel Janu, Jiri Vozenilek, Karel Storch and others were involved in the post-war organisation of construction. They subsequently adapted the theory of scientific functionalism to the concept of socialist architecture. The construction of small housing estates in the two-year period 1946-1947 was strongly influenced by the tradition of functionalism. After 1948, it was succeeded by the first uniform construction of type dwellings. Although the first type T designs of brick residential houses were of excellent quality, the buildings themselves were not well received. The adoption of the style of socialist realism soon had an impact on the initial transition to industrialised building. This politically motivated turn in the development of architecture was followed by a short period oriented towards the development of new socialist cities based on historical models. At that time, the principles of interwar architecture were revised and the rationalist approach was identified with the ideals of socialist humanism. Nonetheless, in the early 1950s, the drive to industrialise the building industry remained a priority. Thus, at the same time as the socialist-realist housing estates were going up, there were isolated experiments with new building structures and materials using reinforced concrete. These structures achieved recognition in the late 1950s, when socialist realism was rejected in the Soviet Union as a style that hindered economical and technologically advanced industrialised development. Thus, in the late 1950s, the first prefabricated houses were built. Of the first experiments, the type G fully assembled prefabricated houses, developed by the architect Bohumil Kula in Zlin, were constructed on a large scale. The G57 residential building was the first type intended for mass housing to be built across the country. It was used in the first large housing estates in Prague-Petriny, Zahradní Mesto and Malesice. The first prefabricated houses, however, were not well received on account of the inferior architectural standard and the limited layouts and town-planning possibilities of the first types. The Czechoslovak pavilion at the 1958 Expo in Brussels introduced new technological and architectural approaches. It soon also became a model for housing development. The search for new approaches to housing development was given a boost by the introduction of 'experiments'. Experimental development employed new, progressive technologies and building materials; it was based on information that had been gathered from the first state-wide debate on accommodation. There were experiments in Prague, Brno and Plzen; they were the work of the younger post-war generation - Frantisek Zounek, Viktor Rudis and Josef Polák. The new opportunities and approaches, the intellectual openness generated by the political thaw of the 1960s yielded the first quality results in housing development. In the 1960s, designers of residential buildings and housing estates reacted to contemporary architectural trends, as well as to the rise in living standard and the growing demand for housing and residential environments that were functional and aesthetically pleasing. Their efforts were interrupted, however, by the development of political events after 1968 and the period of Normalisation, which are not treated in this article.
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