Friday, 10 September 2010

Lobby of the Civic Savings Bank

For fans of Art Nouveau, the Občanská Záložna (Civic Savings Bank) in Vršovice is a hidden gem. The building is the work of architect Antonín Balšánek, whose name is grandly inscribed in the vestibule along with those of the supervising committee and the bank's board of governors.

This jewel in Vršovice's crown has much in common with Balšánek's much better known Obecní Dům (Municipal House), near Prague's Old Town Square:  classically simple arches decorated with ornately gilded grilles, dark oak panelling offset by spangles of coloured glass - the whole structure is simultaneously accessible and deliberately lofty - perfect for a bank wishing to give its clients an impression of solidity and authority. This was a time when bankers were respected members of society, of course.

In planning the Vršovice Bank, Balšánek enlisted the help of a number of great artists and designers - among them Josef Mařatka and Ladislav Šaloun - who had worked alongside him on the Municipal House during the same period, 1911-12. The interior contains frescoes and sculptures by another two artists who collaborated on both projects, whose work you can read about in yesterday's post.


Jilly said...

Gosh, I'd be proud to give this bank my overdraft! A beautiful buildibng and so good to see it in such excellent condition.

Alex Went said...

They've got mine...

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