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The Dignity of Labor iii | by A.Davey
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The Dignity of Labor iii

"The Palace of Trade Unions in Na Perštýně Street is absolutely exceptional, basically Neo-Classical, with cubist elements in décor and rich relief and sculptural decoration."


This Cubist-style building designed by Alois Dryák was built in 1920-1922. The address is Bartolomějská 347/14, Na Perštýně 347/11.


Alois Dryák: Double anniversary of the architect


(article for The Old Prague Club Bulletin 3/2002)


Alois Dryák

* 24. 2. 1872

† 22. 1. 2001


Alois Dryák is not as well-known as Kotěra or Gočár, although he is a contemporaneous person, and in terms of quantity and quality of realized buildings, he is equal. The main reason why it is hardly known is that he did not teach and was not the initiator of avant-garde news. Yet he was an architect of modern and extraordinarily active even in civic life. From today's post-modern point of view, Dryák's work is of an unusual size, in particular because his buildings, mostly in the original state of roofs and facades, have always retained their traditional character. This sense of thoroughness and quality and the context with the architecture of previous ages has recently been a model and a starting point for overcoming modernity.


Alois Dryák was born in the countryside on 24 February 1872 in Olšany near Slaný. Soon he came to Prague (1886) to study at an art school. He is one of the best pupils of Professor Bedřich Ohmann (along with B. BendImayer) in the specialty for decorative architecture. That is why he is also a continuator of the project of the oldest surviving Art Nouveau building in Prague - Hotel Central in Hybernská Street from 1899. He begins to work as an assistant at secondary vocational schools and at the Academy of Arts. It is also an active falcon. His interest in public affairs is evidenced by his signature at a protest action against the demolition of the Old Town of Prague, the so-called Bestia Triumphans (1896).


At that time he begins his work, in which - especially in the number of proposals and participation in competitions - overtakes Kotěr and Gočár. He also conducts his own business, together with Bendlmayer, owns an architectural studio in Moran under Charles Square. From that time, the design for the Rudolfinum Fountain Competition was awarded the first prize. In his projects, he develops Ohmann's direction from the Neo-Renaissance to the Art Nouveau style. From this peak of his Art Nouveau period (which occurs during the competition at the Municipal House in 1906) comes the project of villas in Dykova Street in Vinohrady, still somewhat neo-Renaissance, and in V Pětidomí Street in Bubeneč with Art Nouveau gables and details.


In 1905 Dryák and Bendlmayer rebuilt the Hotel U Archduke Stepan on Wenceslas Square (later Šroubek, today Europe). While Dryák designed the neighboring slender Hotel Garni (today Meran) in the style of plant art nouveau in 1903, Bendlmayer is already moving inside the U Archduke Stephen's Hotel to a geometric art nouveau modeled on Jan Kotěra's modernism. Alois Dryák shows this transition when designing buildings outside Prague (secondary school in Kladno and Česká Třebová). Dryák's design for the National Theater in Brno is already very modernist.


Hotel Garni, 1903, Wenceslas Square (today Meran).


In Prague it is not possible to be seduced by avant-garde cubism, but directly below Vyšehrad at Výtoň, on today's Rašín embankment, and in Na Hrobcích Street it creates a rational modern design for the construction of apartment buildings with plastic decoration by Tomáš Amena. At that time, Dryák is getting married. He lives in Letná in Nad štolou Rudolfovou Street. On the nearby Letná Plain he regularly designs the architecture of meeting stadiums with wooden structures at that time.


Architect Dryák is active in Sokol in Prague as well as in the Association of Czech Architects. His competition proposal for the building of the Representative House in Prague was not selected for implementation, but it influenced today's Balšánek and Polívek concepts. It contained a connection with the Powder Tower, a representative entrance further from the Powder Tower and a modern horizontal concept of the facade with respect to the verticality of the Neo-Gothic Tower. In 1912-1915, two of the largest monuments in Prague - František Palacký by sculptor St. Suchardy and St. Wenceslas by JV Myslbek. In the competition for the monument of Master Jan Hus on the Old Town Square with the sculptor J. Kvasnička against Solomon failed. The First World War temporarily interrupted his work.


Monument of Palacký


After the war he designs several apartment buildings in Prague in the style of rondocubism (Jana Masaryka Street, Baranova Street), the Brothers' Cash Register in Kladno, a school in Šumperk and the Regional Authority in Uzhhorod. Based on family contacts he designs the house on the main square in Pilsen. The Palace of Trade Unions in Na Perštýně Street is absolutely exceptional, basically Neo-Classical, with cubist elements in décor and rich relief and sculptural decoration (1920-22). For many entrepreneurs, it rebuilds and designs villas for rural living, such as the house of the factory owner Pelly in Police nad Metují, Villa Dr. Šůry in Újezd ​​nad Černými lesy or Dr. Oesterreicher in Prague on Hanspaulka.


In his social life, Dryák is involved in the Club For Old Prague. As a Sokol official, he designs Sokol houses and Sokol halls. He works on the committee for the construction of the Ořechovka garden district. Together with Jaroslav Vondrák they create its architecture (houses of English cottage type, community house, own villa in the years 1923 - 1924, location of the monument to the fallen). In his villa on Západná Street in Ořechovka, he moves his studio from Letná, where he prepares competing projects for public buildings - banks, schools and others, urban design of Prague embankments (1926), Brno University Complex (1928) and city plans of Olomouc, Ostrava. and Bratislava. Dryák's designs do not always win, but inspire the competition. This was most evident in the winning design and implementation of the Fair Palace (today's National Gallery) in 1924-1928.


Building of the Central Czechoslovak Tobacco Directing in Prague, Vinohrady, 1924-1926


Except for the Strahov Stadium, the tobacco houses (1923-28) with sculptural decorations by J. Jiříkovský and Jaroslav Horejc (now the Commercial Court building) in Slezská Street, the Radiopalác building at Vinohradská Street with a cinema and a restaurant (1922-24) ) and Orbis printers reaching into Slezská Street (1927-28). Out of the overall concept of the university complex of Masaryk University in Brno, only one building was realized - the Faculty of Law on Veveří Street (1927-31). In the interior Dryák cooperated mainly with the painter Antonín Procházka (front panel in the auditorium) and František Kysela (stained glass in the auditorium).


Detail of the parterre of the same building.


It was not only Ořechovka, where he lived and worked, but also the garden district Hanspaulka, where the architect Dryák worked. An example is the still well-functioning elementary school in Sušická Street (from 1931) and the aforementioned Villa Dr. Oesterreicher opposite the school.


In Dryák's studio, the architects Jan Mayer (1923-32), Josef Mayer (previously from 1919 to 1932), Vratislav Mayer (1920-25) and Ferdinand Pokorný (1923-27) collaborate on projects at different times. Just before his sudden death (June 6, 1932) Alois Dryák designs his last building - the Sokol Hall in Vršovice (1931). This project was completed by his longtime friend and Nutcracker Bohumil Hübschmann, who led Dryák's unfinished work to his end.


Dryák's project of the largest sports complex of the time was realized in Prague-Strahov. Masaryk's stadium (later Spartakiad) was then the largest stadium in the world. Therefore, he was awarded a diploma at the World Olympics in Los Angeles (1932).


Monument of St. Wenceslas


In conclusion, Dryák's work has its main focus in public buildings (schools, office buildings, gyms) not only in Prague and its surroundings, but also in Brno and other cities. His balanced way of creating belongs to the style of rational modernity using decorative art-deco elements. Later, Dryák moved to monumental neoclassicism. Functionalism was never believed by architect Dryák, because he considered flat roofs and facades to be of low durability, only the Sokol house in Vršovice is an exception. The monumentality of Dryák's work was especially reflected in the architectural design of the monuments of F. Palacký and St. Wenceslas.


Only the post-modern era most appreciated Dryák's work, which was characterized mainly by high durability, quiet representativeness and rational spirit. His diligence and artistic potency led him to set a goal in solving living tasks as brought by contemporary life. Dryák's production went with the times, but his own technical solutions, experience and reason protected him from the effects of inadvertent novelties and errors, often accompanying the work of his peers in times of creative revolution and search.


Jan Stěnička

Photo Zdeněk Dryák




Švoma, Rostislav: From Modernism to Functionalism. Prague - Odeon, 1985


Šuman, Viktor: Works of architect Alois Dryák. Wien: Nakladatelství "Aida", Praha: F.Topič, 1932.


Dryak, Alois, Novackova, Olga, Stenicka, Jan: Alois Dryak - monograph (manuscript ready for publication)


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Taken on December 30, 2019