The building of the former Bank of the Czechoslovak Legions, also called Legiobanka, is located in the center of Prague in Na Poříčí Street. To this day, it is the most important building in Prague in the style of so-called national decorativism. Its author was the famous Czech architect Josef Gočár.
Archa Palace – Legiobanka in Poříčí | Video: tvarchitect.com
The Bank of the Czechoslovak Legions was established after the end of the First World War as an institute intended mainly for legionnaires in Russia, who were able to save their savings thanks to it. Thanks to its success, it was soon decided that one of its branches would be based in Prague.
The Art Deco building, which took the name national decorativism in our country, began to be built in 1920. Gočár had the façade of the artificial stone house covered with plastic, geometric elements, such as cylinders or arches. He designed everything in national colors with a predominance of white and red.
Take a look at the Hidden Treasures section of the Sweert-Špork Palace:
The facade of the house was subsequently decorated by artists Otto Gutfreund and Jan Štursa, who left legionary motifs on it. The elements of the cylinders and arches then penetrate the entire facade to the interior. Geometric paintings characteristic of art deco can also be found in the lobby of the building.
In the bank hall with a glass ceiling, Gočár was inspired by the hall of Wagner’s Vienna Postal Savings Bank. The famous architect also designed all the interior fittings – including furniture, lamps, decorative grilles or door fittings. The painter František Kysela is also assigned to decorate the walls.
In the next construction phase in 1938, a house was built in the parallel street Na Florenci. František Marek, a pupil of Gočár, undertook the project. Although he created the building in the style of functionalism, he still followed in the footsteps of his teacher.
The decor of the palace later became an inspiration for other buildings in Czechoslovakia and gave the style an alternative name “Legiobank style”. Today, the Archa Theater is housed in this house, which was called U Rozvařilů.