During the recent heatwave I went out to see a friend near Kokořín and after walking
around the nearby forests we decided to cool down in the local pool. Given the temperatures,
with everyone out it was a dip rather a swim.
The swimming pool in
Msěno is a unique structure surrounded by a lush lawn with a backdrop of
sandstone rocks. It is one of the few recognizably art deco swimming pools in
the country with many authentic details. The pool was inspired by a much more
sophisticated example of a swimming pool and leisure grounds in Klánovice,
which we would today recognise as a kind of country club. Unfortunately it no
longer stands and can only be viewed in period photos.
In Msěno the unknown architect
decided to go for the contemporary Rondo-Cubist art-deco style while mimicking
19th century spa colonnades where the hot springs .The main building is divided
into 3 parts, each with a different purpose.
|Some of the Rondo-Cubist details|
|A view from the rotunda |
A good sausage can never be missed!
The central rotunda was conceived as the bar
and dining room which could also hold an orchestra for live music. The right
wing is enclosed in case of bad weather and was used meant as a restaurant, reading
room and lounge. To the left is the open veranda containing individual sitting
booths each with its own table and chairs. This section also has more of the “service”
part of the building as it houses the cloakrooms , changing rooms and bathrooms
most of which can still be seen today in
near original condition. All the windows and other architectural details are
formed in the typical rounded cubist style down to the light fixtures. The veranda
roofs are held up by pairs of pillars reminiscent of those in spa town colonnades.
|The open left wing|
The focal point of
course is the swimming pool which is relatively generous by the standards of
the day and has a luminous turquoise colour .Flanking the main steps into the pool are two quintessentially
art deco water fountains which provide a certain amount of whimsy . Pyramidal
in shape with a ball finials, they follow through on the rondo cubist theme
while also providing symmetry.
|The water fountains|
Built in the early 30’s was
part of the interwar drive to provide citizens with a sports and leisure venue
as well as hygiene facilities. Many houses did have indoor plumbing but not
bathrooms as Jan Kilián a historian whose has written extensively about the
swimming pool states. That is why they are aptly also called the Msěno Public
Baths and still have one of the original bathrooms complete with fixtures and
tub. Patrons (mostly women) could soak in these tubs for a fee for the period
of 40 minutes.
|The original bathroom with fixture|
Another impetus for the building of such leisure
venues was the changing lifestyle of the younger population where sports and
the outdoors played a greater role as workers became entitled to paid leave. Havinga
tan became a status symbol rather than a scar of manual labour.
|I was not able to find out if the furniture is original or repro|
changing room is an austere affair|
Although not as well-known
as the Barrandov Terraces swimming pool and restaurant which is an icon of
interwar Czechoslovak glamour , this pool still has its claim to fame as it
features in the debut film (Indian Summer)of
the young Klára Issová. As Andrea Turjanicová mentions in her final thesis
(Open-air Swimming Pools in Czech Architecture of the 1920s–1940s) most such
places were built either in the above mentioned “spa “style or took a radically
modern direction in the form of functionalist structures as the Barrandov pool,
which today is derelict and further marred by the highway and bridge right in
front of it. The diving platform became the emblem not only of Barrandov pool but more generally of the sleek figures
of those who used it.
|The enclosed right wing|
These outdoor swimming pools were almost
always fed by nearby natural sources of water making them pretty cold but were
also designed as a social gathering place for the entire community. Unlike
contemporary “aqua parks” which are mainly aimed at children these were focused
at an adult clientele which is also reflected in the design and layout of the
pool. The trend of building outdoor swimming pools went on into the 80’s when they
were gradually overtaken by indoor year round pools and the eventual
proliferation of private garden swimming pools.
Credit to: Andrea Turjanicová, Diplomová práce,Koupaliště
jako architektonický úkol.Univerzita Karlova v Praze,Filosofická fakulta,Ústav
pro dějiny umění,Praha 2009
Jan Kilián ,Městské Lázně Mšeno, Městský Úřad Mšeno,2004