Jiří Hanzelka Villa

Date 1954–1955
Architect Zdeněk Plesník
Code Z7
Address Žlebová 1590, Zlín
Public transport Public transport: Padělky I (TROL 4, 5)
GPS 49.2348431N, 17.6764325E

The villa of the traveller Jiří Hanzelka is only a few dozen metres away from the villa of his colleague Miroslav Zikmund. The pair of highly individualised family houses were prepared simultaneously by the Zlín architect Zdeněk Plesník. The first sketch of the two houses, connected by a narrow path, is dated March 1953; the project plans were submitted to the building authority the following year. Zdeněk Plesník designed representative villas at a time of culminating Socialist Realism and the mass construction of large-capacity houses. They follow in the tradition of the villa construction of interwar Zlín. Both houses are stylistically uniform and have a clearly recognisable architectural approach, which is then repeated for the last time at the villa of the composer Zdeněk Liška in Kudlov.
Although both travellers had similar requirements regarding layout, including their own study, archive, photo chamber, editing room, and library, in many ways their villas are contrasting. Zikmund's villa is an integral part of the garden and uses Wright-like principles of spatial composition. Hanzelka's villa, on the other hand, with its clear pyramidal composition of volumes, which was, when Hanzelka lived there, completed by a radio transmitter installed on the roof, was a dominating presence in the developing residential area of Nivy. With both Zikmund's and Hanzelka’s villa, however, it was important to connect the house with its surroundings. Plesník responds to the terrain of the plot and installs the building into the space so that the base of the house connects to the modelled slopes of the garden. The surrounding garden was conceived as an orchard, where shrubs and conifers were gradually planted.
The buildings share many similar elements and details that connect them both with the environment of Zlín's Baťa architecture, but also with contemporary Gottwaldov construction. They use the same materials in the exterior - prefabricated window sills, stone plinths, window linings, cornices lining the balcony, and windows running continuously around the house. In contrast to Zikmund's villa, face bricks appear more prominently in the Hanzelka villa, not only as infills under the windows, but also as a decorative element on the façade. This motif is reminiscent of contemporary Scandinavian architecture, and Zdeněk Plesník subsequently used it in Liška's villa too. The northern mass of the house with bedrooms is set off from the rest of the house by contrasting textured plaster.
The two-storey house with a basement under part of the layout is partially sunk into the north-south orientated slope with a height difference of almost 7 metres along the length of the building. Plesník uses the shape of the terrain and the house gradually grows along the contour line. The basement with utility rooms is partially recessed; there are three archives, a boiler room and a garage designed for two cars. On the east side, there is also the main entrance to the building in the basement, with a spacious entrance hall and a T-shaped staircase leading to the first floor. The spacious common rooms on the first floor reference Adolf Loos's concept of Raumplan with their layout and the use of different height levels. At the same time, the space is precisely dimensioned for the sound of the organ, which was placed in a separate room behind a folding oak wall. On the north side of the house there are mostly utility rooms - food storage, laundry, kitchen with preparation room, and dining area allowing access to the terrace - similar to that of Zikmund's villa. Upstairs there is a large study with a library, four bedrooms, and a gym with a dressing room. As with the first floor, you can ascend to the terrain through a terrace with a pergola.
The interior of the villa was bright, with generous floor-to-ceiling heights in the rooms (2.70 ̶ 3.90 m). Individual furniture pieces were the work of the designer Miroslav Navrátil, who was also the designer of the equipment in the other two villas. Surviving photo documentation shows that in addition to the built-in furniture and libraries, the common space was complemented by an adjustable lamp, light lamella chairs, tables, and other pieces of furniture.
Jiří Hanzelka lived in the villa for only a short time. The building was approved in January 1956, and two years later he donated the villa to the Czechoslovak state. In exchange for this, the Gottwaldov City Committee provided funding for the subsequent expedition to Asia and Oceania (1959–1964). The condition for the takeover was the establishment of a kindergarten with a week-long operation. The villa therefore received a new use, the original interior was dismantled, partially removed and rebuilt for the needs of the crèche. These modifications greatly devalued the original architectural design. The house now serves as a children's day care facility. Despite a number of insensitive interventions in the exterior of the building – putting a new window opening on the eastern façade, as well as the addition of an elevator - Jiří Hanzelka's villa is still a valuable example of villa development in Czechoslovakia in the 1950s.