In 1968, Ivan Ruller designed a family house for his long-time colleague, Miloslav Petráček, a director of Chemoprojekt, a company which specialized in building oil refineries. Ivan Ruller worked for the company during 1960s preparing projects and documentation for oil refineries in Chittagong and Ceylon. The Petráček family house is shielded from the eyes of passers-by, deep inside a block of residential villas in Brno’s Masaryk čtvrt’ district and is in remarkable harmony with the surrounding greenery and hillside gardens.
When he was working on the project for Petráček’s house, Ruller had finished at Chemoprojekt and was working in the Department of the Chief Municipal Architect of Brno. The sensitive and creative design of the Petráček family house is based on the specifics of its location, on a grassy plot on a hill, between the streets of Preslova and Barvičova. The layout of the house is a response to its surroundings. It is long and rectangular with two floors on its eastern side. The lower floor houses utility rooms and provides the space for a garage, cellars, a workshop, a laundry room and a boiler room. This forms the substructure for the living space above it, which includes the family’s bedrooms and a study. The western part of the house consists of a spacious living room and dining area extending across the whole floor, looking out onto an outdoor terrace and garden through large windows that make up the whole of the southern facade of the living room. The indoor recreational space and main social hub of the house is thus very light and airy and offers impressive views of the surrounding greenery through solid larch-framed windows, a material which also features on the ceiling. On this house, Ivan Ruller very effectively combined the contrasting effects of various materials such as the stone cladding of the basement wall by the garage, the masonry of white sand-lime bricks used in the living room interior, together with a large parapet in the form of a reinforced concrete frame that covers the whole building and separates the ground floor from the bedroom floor above.
Designing individual houses was not a prominent branch of architecture in the 1960s and 1970s, given the enormous scale of state-support for mass housing. Thanks to its design and material qualities, the house of Miloslav Petráček was undoubtedly one of the most interesting examples of family housing design in the whole of Czechoslovakia. Moreover, it has been kept in excellent original condition by the Petráček family, who after decades of living there declare that the house never seems to age.