Modernist architecture in Bratislava

Wednesday, 09.03.2016

From Vienna, I made the shortest trip in Europe between two capital cities. It is an hour’s drive along the Danube River going east towards the Slovakian border. At the border, Bratislava (in German: Pressburg; in Hungarian: Pozsony) already appears in the distance with the city’s castle clearly visible.

My visit was prompted by the entitled Bratislava Pressburg Pozsony, Jewish Secular Endeavors (1867-1938) by A. Robert Neurath, published in 2011. The first chapter covers modernist architecture in the Jewish community. This community thrived in the city since the legal emancipation of Jews came into effect in 1867 when the Habsburg Empire changed into the Dual Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and ended with the Second World War.

The two architects Emil Alojz Brüll (1895-1944/45) and Emerich Spitzer (1904-1943) built villas across the city which I wanted to see in person.

The first was Brüll’s villa for Dr. Ellek, on Bartonova 2, from 1933/34. The building consists of a rectangle with two half-cylinders attached. One of the half-cylinders is of lower height accommodating a balcony. The forms in the round I found particularly pleasing to the eye and did not recall a similar house I have seen in the past. Just a few minutes’ walk took me to Partizanska 3 where I saw Spitzer’s Dr. Kornel Pollak’s house of 1931. The facade is very functionalist with a flat roof functioning as a terrace and a prominent chimney. The garden side (to which I had no access) shows rounded corners which are (from old photos) most impressive. The third property on Na Brezinach 8, which is in another part of town was also designed by Spitzer for Eugene Pollak in 1933. Here the rounded corners are particularly prominent and are continuously used; again with a prominent chimney.

Driving back to Vienna the use of semi-cylinders and rounded edges in these villas stayed most in my mind. I wondered if this was a typical features of modernist architecture in Bratislava.

Villa for Dr Ellek, 1933/34

Dr Ellek’s Villa, 1933/34

Villa for Dr Ellek, 1933/34

Dr Ellek’s Villa, 1933/34

 

Me in front of Dr Kornel Pollak's house

Me in front of Dr Kornel Pollak’s house

Dr Kornel Pollak's house, 1931

Dr Kornel Pollak’s house, 1931

 

Eugene Pollak's house, 1933

Eugene Pollak’s house, 1933

Eugene Pollak's house, 1933

Eugene Pollak’s house, 1933