The corpus of work of the architect Zdeněk Müller is closely linked with Brno and, in particular, with the Brno exhibition centre. He was born in Česká Třebova in 1935 and spent his childhood during the Second World War in Kuřim, where his parents moved in1937. After the war he studied at the grammar school in Tišnov, and from 1952 at the Brno Faculty of Architecture from which he graduated in 1959. His teachers included Bohuslav Fuchs, Bedřich Rozehnal and Antonín Kurial, as well as Ivan Ruller who became Zdeněk Müller’s lifelong friend.
As a budding architect Zdeněk Müller was briefly employed in the Brno Stavoprojekt company under architects Otakar Oplatek and František Zounek. Müller was responsible there, among other things, for the design of the state opera house in Brno, the Janáček Theatre. In 1962 he started to work in the design department of the Brno Trade Fairs and Exhibitions company, and in 1974 became the main architect of the Brno exhibition centre (until 2000). In the course of his career, Zdeněk Müller had an opportunity to get acquainted with all aspects of trade fairs. He designed numerous exhibitions and trade fair installations, pavilions as well as the trade fair infrastructure. He also devoted himself to the urbanist layout of trade fair complexes and the theory of architecture.
Under socialism, the Brno Trade Fairs and Exhibitions specialising in foreign trade gained a monopoly in Czechoslovakia on the organisation of the country’s official participation in international trade fairs and exhibitions. Zdeněk Müller thus designed exhibitions for Vienna, Zagreb, Milan, Teheran and Khartoum. His designs for the exhibitions in Tripoli and Santiago de Chille were awarded the Gold Medal. Zdeněk Müller applied his experience from international exhibitions and trade fairs and the knowledge of many international exhibition centres in urbanist studies of the exhibition complexes in Trenčín and Bratislava, and especially during his long-term activities associated with the Brno exhibition centre.
In the mid-1970s when Zdeněk Müller became the main architect of the exhibition centre, there were frequent debates regarding the future of trade fairs. In 1975 and 1978 two international symposiums on exhibition design were held in the Brno exhibition centre, hosting experts such as Zdeněk Lang, Václav Roštlapil, Josef Svoboda, Iloš Crhonek, Jan Rajlich, František Cubr and others. This creative atmosphere gave rise, in 1977, to a new plan for the exhibition centre (Müller, Borková) which served as a template for its development for over two decades. In the 1980s a trade fair centre was built to architect Müller’s design (now the BVV company headquarters), along with the building of the chamber of commerce and several company pavilions (Škoda, Vítkovice, Topham, Kandt, Melcher, Nordstahl). As the main architect, Zdeněk Müller also participated in the preparation of concepts and investments that were passed on to other specialists. He was responsible for the reconstruction of pavilions A (1979-81) and B (1984), the construction of a system of underground collectors for the infrastructure and the building of roofed passages linking the pavilions used by the exhibition centre visitors. In addition, he produced studies preceding the construction of the House of Technology (1989), Pavilion E (1989-90) and the reconstruction of Pavilion G (1994-96). The last mentioned design for the reconstruction of Pavilion G is also associated with the names of architects Viktor and Martin Rudiš and Zdeňka Vydrová. However, their plan was based on an urbanist concept by Zdeněk Müller and Jaromír Stříbrný created for the Office of the Main Architect of the BVV.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s Zdeněk Müller briefly taught at the Brno Faculty of Architecture. In the 1990s his interest and creative energy were poured into the run of the exhibition centre and its development. After 2000 he devoted himself to publishing activities. He analysed the history of the exhibition centre in his book The Brno Exhibition Centre – The Building of a Century (2002). It was followed by collaboration on the book Bombs over Brno (2005) and the publication The Exhibition of Contemporary Culture, Brno 1928 (2008). In 2017 Zdeněk Müller and Ivan Ruller took part in an urbanist competition seeking new ideas for the further development of the exhibition centre, and their design was awarded in the second round.
Date of birth
1935 Česká Třebová