When you say Volman’s Villa, it brings to mind more than the late 1930s Functionalist building for those who know it. They also recall a sprawling informal park adjacent to a prosperous factory, a beautiful dream that became reality.
A villa in a park: how beautiful a theme for an architect, how attractive for a person looking for the ideal place to live.
However, the compound with the industrialist’s villa is also a reminder of how ephemeral dreams can be. Add forty years of neglect, and the house with its garden is transformed into something that only vaguely resembles the First Republic ideal. A crumbling structure on a site that was once visited by dignitaries from across the country, a park run wild where Volman’s daughter used to ride her horse, and garden allotments where the orchard used to be.
By a twist of fate, however, someone appeared who decided to revive a dream that was all but forgotten. The truth is that the concept of the entire area, with its full scope of original activities, including a manufacturing zone complemented with a large park, greenery intended for recreation, and housing, is a timeless idea that still has validity.
Moreover, Volman’s original intent is even more attractive due to the location above a meander of the Elbe River. Before the current vegetation grew tall, the villa towered on a promontory over the river, balancing at the edge of the romantic Elbeland scenery with numerous pools and riparian vegetation, contrasting with the recently established artificial park and well-trimmed lawns.
All the evidence suggests, however, that the villa’s location was not the end. Look closely at the edge line in the terrain, and you will find that the whole composition probably started at the end of Na Nábøeí Street and extended into the meadows towards Toueō. In connection with the company’s growth in the late 1920s, Volman faced the task of resolving the location of not only the ever-expanding manufacturing but also the accompanying buildings, including offices, technical preparation and, last but not least, housing for the employees. He took up the task with not only the rationality that was so typical of him, but also generosity and foresight. It is along this edge line, which seems to follow the perimeter of the estate, that the design and administrative buildings are situated, along with the villa – the formal company management building, the lengthwise enclosure wall bordering the orchard, and finally the hunting chalet for off-site meetings and recreation.
This composition includes places that we thought were still waiting for a function. They were left vacant due to the events after 1945, but we accepted the interest in construction and rehabilitation within the estate as a challenge to understand and continue the spirit of the composition, created by no coincidence (see elsewhere for the houses in the park and the CZ.TECH factory). This is not limited to the villa building itself. Quite to the contrary, we subjected the villa to a detailed survey by a team of historians, restorers and specialists in unconventional technologies over a period of ten years, with the support of its owners. Subsequently – following an accountable discussion with the heritage authorities, among which we ought to highlight Dr. Pavel Kroupa of the Central Bohemian National Heritage Institute – we developed a design for repairs, which were then gradually implemented in small increments. This assembly of fragments and the addition of pieces lost in history or required by modern times was an extremely time-consuming task. Perhaps that is why, in spite of being one of the studio’s first projects, Volman’s Villa was still not in a presentable condition in the summer of 2013. But it is only a question of months before Volman’s dream is revived.