Renovation: Villa Volman
by Jiri Štursa and Karel Janu, Celákovice, Czech Republic, 1938-1939
DATE: 5/11/2016
"Since the early 1990s, visitors to the sleepy town of  Celákovice, just a few kilometres from Prague, could have easily missed the concrete ruin of Villa Volman. Situated in a large natural park, the house had become more of a neglected, weather-battered, graffiti-covered squat than the luxury mansion of its heyday. But the building – one of the Czech modernist movement’s forgotten icons – has been returned to its pre-war glory after years of careful restoration work.

Saved by enlightened local business group CZ Tech, the home of industrialist Josef Volman was originally built in 1939, designed by avant-garde Czech architects Karel JanĹŻ and Jirí Štursa. Prague-based Studio TaK won the competition for the renovation. ‘We had a huge appetite to be involved in a project of such significance,’ says chief architect Marek Tichý. His team’s detailed prep work, surveys, design and construction lasted almost 15 years. ‘The design of the villa is extraordinary. It is a unique example of its kind in what was then Czechoslovakia,’ adds Tichý. ‘Its architecture shows the synthesis of various streams of European modernism of the early 20th century, and also the importance and strength of the first Czech Republic, which, in the period between the world wars, was one of the most developed countries in the world.’ 

The villa is also emblematic of the divide created by a debate in Czechoslovak modernist architecture. The country’s avant-garde Devatsil group, headed by influential theorist, artist and visionary Karel Teige, advocated architecture as science, a tool to build a modern society. The opposition argued for architecture’s more artistic qualities, treating it as a means to experiment with shapes and fine art influences.

Villa Volman shows the clash between these two ideologies. Although Janu and Štursa were inclined to embrace architecture’s social call, this commission was primarily an artistic and compositional challenge. Volman, who had previously built a factory and housing for his employees in Celákovice, bought a large piece of land and gave the architects an almost unlimited budget. The result was one of the finest (and most expensive) residences in the country’s interwar period, along with Mies van der Rohe’s Villa Tugendhat in Brno and Adolf Loos’ Müller house in Prague."

Read more at: Wallpaper website

Details about the house: Docomomo_CZ website