Housing development on Úvoz

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The housing development on Úvoz, which was built between 1958 and 1962, is made up of four municipal blocks of apartment buildings of the type T03B and T15 along the streets of Úvoz and Grohova. The housing development is accompanied by civic amenities in the form of a nursery school, a primary school, shops and other services. The design of the project also specifies that the development should include  a creche inside block B, between the streets of Úvoz, Grohova, Čápkova and Jana Uhra, and multi-storey garages on the northern side of the development.

 

The construction began in early 1958 when workers broke through  solid  rock at the foot of Kraví Hora hill and extended  Úvoz street towards the square Konečného náměstí. The extention of Úvoz had long been planned and the concept had also been included in the zoning plan of Brno municipality, drawn up by the team led by František Kočí. The zoning plan, which also addressed the dislocation of newly planned housing estates, had been developed at the Regional Project Institute in Brno in the period 1956–1957 and is associated with the development of Brno as a major city for trade fairs in the late 1950s.

The so-called introductory project of the housing development was designed by the architects Arnošt Krejza and Vítězslav Unzeitig. Nevertheless, from the preserved correspondence it can be inferred that Vilém Kuba was also involved in the project. In mid-1958  he was still working on the “civic amenities of the Úvoz housing development” on extended notice, after his employment at Stavoprojekt had been terminated due to class and political reports and negative cadre evaluations.

 

In 1958 the project was reworked again by Miloslav Kramoliš in cooperation with the architects Miroslav Brabec and Zdena Kopecká. Kramoliš needed to find a solution that would include high-rise apartment blocks and be an appropriate end to the built-up area neighbouring the  green space of the park on Kraví Hora.

However, from the design, only two trial high-rise apartment buildings were built in the upper part of the area of planned construction, between the streets of Údolní and Čápková. The lack of wider application of this design was probably due to efforts to maximize the number of apartments and the imperfect construction technology, which was still in its development phase. It involved the use of ‘brick blocks’. Prefabricated blocks of bricks were formed in advance and put in place on the construction site by crane. This was an early attempts at mass prefabrication by the state-controlled construction industry. In the 1960s, this prefabricated brick technology was superseded by concrete.

 

The primary school building was built between 1961 and 1962 based on a project by Jaroslav Ledvina from 1960 and had a similar layout to the primary school on Bakalovo nábřeží that was designed by the same architect. The relief decoration Kohout [Cockerel] on the facade from 1962 was designed by Milan Zezula and Miloš Slezák, but is now covered by thermal insulation from a renovation in 2014.

 

The overall look of the development is somewhere between the socialist realism of the first half of the 1950s and the subsequent ‘Brussels style’ as defined primarily by Czechoslovakia’s participation in the 1958 EXPO. While the apartment buildings of block D on the slope of Kraví Hora with the bronze sculpture Spartakiáda by Konrad Babraj from 1962 still bear the spirit of Sorel, the ten-storey high-rise blocks and seven-storey apartment buildings of blocks B and C on the eastern side of Úvoz street, with their flat roofs and ‘peaks’, herald the return of modern architecture to Brno.

 

JK