Post-war years in socialism and new housing estates – 1945–1989


The housing development in the period from the end of World War II to 1989 is usually associated with the socialist dullness of prefabricated housing estates. However, a closer look reveals many remarkable buildings, including in Jihlava. The decline in the construction industry that began during the Second World War also continued in the 1940s. Priority had to be given to the restoration of production and transport, and the part of the housing stock that had fallen into disrepair also required repairs. The only interesting post-war residential building projects in Jihlava include the semi-detached house for railway workers on Bezručova Street, and in private housing, the villa at Fritzova Street no. 25, both designed by the architect Cesar Grimmich in the late 1940s.

The shift to the new, state-controlled building development was predetermined by the first “five-year plan”, which ran from the beginning of 1949 to 1953. The development before the war already clearly indicated the urgent need for regulated management of the city's building growth. In terms of traffic, the city was affected by the new ring road, which diverted the arterial road leading from Brno from the inner city and from the too-narrow and low old bridge. From 1956, it followed the city walls to the south over the new Brněnský Bridge. It was preceded in 1952 by the newly elevated Znojemský Bridge, with the main road to Třebíč and Znojmo running across it. In 1957, the Regional National Committee approved the directive spatial plan. This had been compiled from 1950 by members of the state design organisation Stavoprojekt Jihlava, established as a branch of Stavoprojekt Brno in 1949. The plan was based on the findings of the regulatory plan, which had been prepared intermittently during the 1930s and 1940s by the outstanding Brno architect Bohuslav Fuchs.

In the development area of the town around the extended Vrchlického Street, a public contract for the Regional Health Centre – the House of Health (Dům zdraví) – was completed shortly after the war, based on a project by the architect Oldřich Liska from Hradec Králové. It is a remarkable example of late functionalist architecture of the 1940s. In the 1950s, when the beginnings of Czechoslovak architecture was dominated by socialist realism, buildings were constructed such as the State Pupil Home (Státní žákovský domov) designed by the Třebíč architect Jiří Herzán, the District National Committee building (Okresní národní výbor), now the police headquarters, and the Park of Culture and Recreation (Park kultury a oddechu) with an amphitheatre and a stage from 1951 at the heart of the Heulos Forest Park.

Housing became the basic ideological task of the entire communist era. In 1954, the House of Health was followed by the construction of the first housing estate in Jihlava on the site of the closed military training ground on Vrchlického Street. Traditional masonry technology was still used for the Sídliště I housing estate. The decoration of the frontage and attics in the vernacular style clearly expressed the programme of socialist realism. From the interwar period, the theoretical concept of mass housing development also included the requirement for public amenities, schools, shops, and health facilities. As part of the construction of the first housing estate, the Evžen Rošický primary school and the nursery on Erbenova Street were added by the end of the 1950s, followed by the TJ Spartak gymnasium and swimming pool at the beginning of the 1960s. The first housing estate with connected infrastructure was designed by the architect Jan Řídký from Stavoprojekt in Jihlava. Jan Řídký also designed the structurally challenging roof of the Horácký Ice Arena (Horácký zimní stadion), which livened up the architecture of the entrance building on Tolstého Street from the second half of the 1950s. The most important public building of the entire socialist period in Jihlava is undoubtedly the ROH House of Culture constructed according to the project by Mr and Mrs Machonin. Its concept was truly grand and so innovative that it forms an imaginary turning point in Jihlava construction between the 1950s and 1960s.

As in other cities, a new phase of mass housing development started in Jihlava at the beginning of the 1960s. It brought the biggest mass housing development in the history of the city, expanded its boundaries, and significantly changed its urban character. The new technology of dry assembled prefabricated concrete blocks was supposed to speed up and cheapen construction, and in terms of quantity, it was indeed enough to satisfy the most urgent demand for housing within three decades. On the other hand, it had its drawbacks. One of them probably consisted in the loose urban outline, which strongly contrasted with the compact character of the older parts of the town, and another in the stereotypical repetition of the same houses throughout the territory. By 1969, three other large housing estates had been built in the city – Sídliště II near the main train station, Sídliště III in the vicinity of the central cemetery, and finally the Jihlava-South housing estate, the first part of which is known as U Pivovaru after the adjacent street and the second part of which is located along Telečská Street. On Žižkova Street, the type T06B modular panel was first tried out. It later appeared on a mass scale in many other housing estates in our country until the end of the 1980s.

All the housing estates in Jihlava were built according to the design documents of the local Stavoprojekt, which took patronage over residential construction in the entire district. The fifth housing estate, Královský Vršek, was named after its location on the slope above the Jihlava River, where it smoothly connected to the Sídliště II housing estate. The small complex of 526 flats was designed in 1965–1966 by the architect Zdeněk Gryc, and built under the direction of Jiří Herzán by 1973. At the same time, the documentation for the creation of the largest housing estate in Jihlava, Březinovy sady (formerly Semiluky), was being prepared.

As part of the construction of the inner ring road, the second part of the link road was being completed from 1968, which ran along the city walls in the place of the former pedestrian route V Důlkách up to Dvořákova Street and the adjacent Jiráskova Street. This through road required the demolition of an entire set of old buildings, which is why its construction was drawn out until 1972. The part of the bypass through Březinovy sady, which connected the road leading to Brno with the direction to Prague, was built at the turn of the 1960s. The fundamental regeneration of the Local Building Plan for Jihlava was proposed by Jiří Jirmus, the urban planner of Jihlava Stavoprojekt, in 1986. Probably the most important contribution of his plan was the connection of the motorway feeder road in the north of the city with the Znojmo road in the south. Jirmus' plan went ahead and was gradually being implemented until recently. As for later public buildings, the trail of the Jihlava Architecture Manual leads us to the Secretariat of the District National Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (Okresní národní výbor KSČ) by the architect Zdeněk Gryc with the later extension of the House of Political Education (Dům politické výchovy) by Zdeněk Baueršíma on Tolstého Street.

Between 1975 and 1980, the small prefabricated Na Dolině housing estate with almost identical eight-storey buildings around S. K. Neumanna Street emerged. Between 1975 and 1988, the large Na Slunci housing estate was built in the former Brtnické suburb, the urban design of which was prepared by Josef Juda and Jana Fousková from Stavoprojekt Jihlava. Another prefabricated housing estate, Horní Kosov, which was to fill the large area west of Rantířovská Road up to Na Dolině, was left unfinished by the Velvet Revolution. The political upheaval also ruined plans for another proposed housing estate, Bedřichov, in the northern part of the city.


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Objects on the trail