In 1928, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Czechoslovakia’s independence, the Exhibition of Contemporary Culture was held on Brno’s newly constructed fairgrounds. This exhibition also included an exhibition of modern housing in the form of the New House estate – sixteen family homes built by the Wilson Woods in Brno-Žabovřesky that immediately upon construction became one of six important European housing estates built in 1927–1932 in Stuttgart, Brno, Breslau/Wroclaw, Zurich, Vienna, and Prague. Brno’s New House exhibition was the first exhibition of its kind in interwar Czechoslovakia and the second in Europe (after the Weissenhof Estate in Stuttgart) and significantly influenced the later construction of the Baba Estate in Prague.
The New House estate was built by the private construction company of František Uherka and Čeněk Ruller under the formal auspices of the Czechoslovak Werkbund. The developers invited eight architects from Brno and one from Prague to design sixteen detached, semi-detached, or terraced single-family homes according to a plan by Bohuslav Fuchs and Jaroslav Grunt, each of whom designed a triple house as part of the project. The doubles were designed by Josef Štěpánek (from Prague), Jan Víšek, and Ernst Wiesner, and the standalone houses were by Hugo Foltýn, Jiří Kroha, Miroslav Putna, and Jaroslav Syřiště. At the time, Foltýn and Putna were still students of architecture at Brno’s technical university. Because of delays in completing construction of the estate, the public did not get a chance to see these model homes until towards the end of the Exhibition of Contemporary Culture. However, potential clients were not quite ready for the architects’ modern approach to family living, resulting in slow sales or rentals, so in this sense the entire undertaking failed to meet expectations and caused the developers significant financial difficulties. But for Czechoslovak and European modern architecture, Brno’s New House exhibition was of extraordinary significance.
This monographic publication represents the first-ever comprehensive look at the subject. Among other things, it describes the background, parallels, specific features, and media image of this exceptional undertaking. The book also includes a catalogue of houses and brief biographies of the builders and architects. The introductory chapter also describes other model estates and exhibitions of modern housing built in Europe in the late 1920s and early 1930s (Stuttgart, Brno, Breslau/Wroclaw, Zurich, Vienna, and Prague). Of the large number of photographs, plans, and period documents, many were previously unknown and are published here for the first time.
The book should interesting not just for architects and architecture theorists, but for anyone with an interest in modern architecture and the culture and history of interwar Czechoslovakia. The monograph is published on the 90th anniversary of the New House estate and the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovak independence. The bilingual Czech/English book was written and edited by curators from Brno City Museum’s Department of Architectural History.
Chatrný, Jindřich; Černoušková, Dagmar; Borský, Pavel (eds.). Nový dům Brno / New House Brno / 1928, Brno 2018
The book is available for purchase at Villa Tugendhat and at Brno City Museum inside Špilberk Castle. It may also be ordered online at firstname.lastname@example.org.