House of the architect Růžena Žertová


The pressing problem of Růžena Žertová’s own housing led to the construction of a house on a small and neglected plot of land at the end of Zákoutí street in Brno-Žabovřesky, which the builders of the nearby terraced houses had used to dump building waste. In the late 1970s, she and her husband, Igor Svoboda, received notice that they would have to vacate their loft apartment on Dvořákova street.


The key factors influencing the design of the house were the small size of the land and the assumption that the couple would not have children. Žertová designed a single floor building with an L-shaped floor plan and a flat roof. Part of the plot was designed to be an atrium, i.e., the area demarcated by the perpendicular wings of the house closed in by a brick wall. From the compact mass of the residential wings, only the garage building stands out. She positioned the house on the land with regard to the cardinal points: the grassed atrium measuring 9 x 9 metres was positioned facing south, while the garage was situated on the north-western side towards the forest.


The architect situated all the rooms and the bathroom facing the atrium. The wing of the house facing the street housed a living area with fireplace, a kitchen and dining area, and a study. In the other wing, there was an entrance hall directly connected to the garage and the adjoining storeroom, a closet, a bathroom with sauna, a bedroom and a guest room. Due to the gently sloping terrain, the floor level of the living space and the study was lower than the other rooms of the building.


The qualities of the space of this wing are enhanced by changes in the light from outside during the day. While the kitchen area brings north-eastern light into the interior, the living area faces south-west through a glass wall with fixed-light glazing and an opening door. The architect illuminated the entrance hall with a frameless window the height of the whole room next to the entrance door. In two instances, she used windows reminiscent of embrasures, glazed with cast structured glass, which brings diffused light into a corner of the living area and into the bedroom. By contrast, the north-western facade of the house, adjacent to the path through the woods, was left without windows.


Knowing that they would have to build the house themselves, Žertová carefully considered the structural design of the building. The perimeter walls, founded on piles due to the unstable subsoil, were designed as a sandwich of porous concrete blocks due to their thermal insulation properties. The window types were modified for double glazing, and under-floor heating was used in parts of the interior. Rainwater drained into a gargoyle that emptied into the atrium pool. The timeless design of the interior was accomplished by means of cork floors, wooden ceiling boarding and cream-coloured carpets, accompanied by white lime plaster, tiles, and bathroom tiles. The furniture and home accessories were also designed and made by the architect, including the aluminium lighting fittings, which were then sold to the Dílo chain of stores.


The design of Růžena Žertová’s house, which is the product of the architect’s many years of experience, can be included in the ranks of Central European designs following in the Nordic tradition in the sense of the house’s connection with the surrounding natural environment, its material and structural design, the configuration of the living space, and the sauna as part of the interior. The architect lived in the house as it was conceived until shortly before her death in October 2019.



House of the architect Růžena Žertová

1979 – 1982

Růžena Žertová


Residential house, villa

Zákoutí 3038/2, (Žabovřesky), Brno, Žabovřesky

49.21791090552768, 16.566449188368114