Best construction works by Jan Kotěra

Best construction works by Jan Kotěra

Go to see the constructions by the forward-looking Czech architect

Best construction works by Jan Kotěra
Jan Kotěra would have celebrated his 150th birthday in December this year. He was an excellent architect, one of the promoters of modern architecture of international significance and a leading figure of Czech modern architecture. He was an artist from the bottom of his heart, he combined the Art Nouveau style with functionalism in a very unique manner and left an indelible trace in quite a few of Czech towns. Today we’ll acquaint you with his life and best construction works!

Jan Kotěra – a master of Czech modernism

Jan Kotěra was born on 18 December 1871 in Brno. He hailed from a family of a teacher, but thanks to patrons who had recognised his talents he could complete his studies at the then prestigious Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. The studies opened a gate to the world for him. He got to know such architects as Jože Plečnik, who later designed the rebuilding of Prague Castle, Josef Hoffmann, and Adolf Loos, who created the Müller Villa in Prague and progressive interiors in Pilsen. Jan Kotěra died in Prague on 17 April 1923 at the age of only 51 years.

During his quite short life, Jan Kotěra designed dozens of constructions and construction projects, starting with chateaux, via administrative buildings, museums or blocks of flats to designs of tombs and interiors of authorities. Contemporary art historians classify his works as so-called modernism. It is an architectural movement that draws on the ornamental past but, at the same time, makes use of the then new materials such as concrete, iron and glass.  

Kotěra constructions in Prague

There’s Kotěra’s own villa at Vinohrady, Prague, which he himself designed and had built. The construction, combining facework with a rough coat of plaster, was built in 1908–1909. The villa includes an elegant salon, children’s rooms as well as Kotěra’s study. However, the villa is not open to the public at the moment.

But you can go and visit the Trmal Villa in the district of Strašnice. The house represents a unique example of the unification of Art Nouveau ornament, English country architecture and Slavic tradition. The villa is open to the public at the present time, and features an exhibition presenting Kotěra works and housing in the early 20th century.

The Laichter House at Vinohrady just off Rieger Park was built based on Jan Kotěra’s design as well. The ground floor once housed the Laichter publishing company, and the owner’s spacious flat was situated upstairs behind the brick oriel. Jan Kotěra linked both sections by a magnificent staircase hall featuring paintings. The higher storeys of the house served as a block of flats with a separate entrance. The façade is divided horizontally by strips of a rough and fairly fine coat of plaster, which are typical of Kotěra. These days, Paseka Publishers have their registered office in the house and they regularly open the house to the public.

National House in Prostějov

You can find one early work by Jan Kotěra in the Moravian city of Prostějov. During the construction of the local National House before the First World War, Jan Kotěra made use of Art Nouveau elements that were gradually going out of fashion and didn’t spare ornaments. Nowadays, you can view the building not only from outside but also inside. Theatre performances, concerts, balls, soirees, and exhibitions of paintings and sculptures take place there.

Museum of Eastern Bohemia in Hradec Králové

The Museum of Eastern Bohemia building is one of the most beautiful constructions in Hradec Králové, the centre of Eastern Bohemia. It was put up on the Elbe embankment in 1909–1912 and it was Jan Kotěra who designed it. The construction is not only impressive but also purposeful. The plastic façade with sculptures and reliefs is very interesting. The building has lately undergone renovation. In addition to the museum and gallery collections, you can also see the museum director’s office during the tour – the historical office designed directly by Jan Kotěra.

Tomáš Baťa Villa in Zlín

Jan Kotěra acted as the first architectural consultant of Tomáš Baťa, a Czech entrepreneur of the early 20th century. He was the author of the first zone planning of the city of Zlín, Moravia, and the famous shoe entrepreneur had also his own villa built based on Kotěra’s design. Kotěra didn’t design the building from the very beginning, he got down to the work only later when the house had already been partly standing. Baťa’s wife didn’t allegedly find the initial plans impressive enough. So, Jan Kotěra reworked the design, changed the layout and conceived the villa as a two-storey building. The villa is today used as the registered office of the Tomáš Baťa Foundation. You can visit the villa with a guide but you need to book your visit beforehand.

Chateau Kotěra

The chateau in Ratboř, a village between Kolín and Kutná Hora in Central Bohemia, was created in the same period as the Baťa Villa was. Jan Kotěra designed it before the First World War as a residence for a family of local factory owners and entrepreneurs. The family lived an interesting cultural and social life, and therefore it commissioned the construction of one of the last chateaux to be built in the territory of what is now the Czech Republic. Today, the chateau again belongs to the family and they have established an elegant boutique hotel with a renowned restaurant in it. That means wellness facilities, meals and good sleep. What more could you want?