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A Nonprofit Organization the Jaromír Krejcar Society Wants to Restore the Machnáč Sanatorium in Trenčianske Teplice

June 2, 2020 | Press Release

“Efforts to renovate the object as an accommodation establishment have repeatedly failed; and, therefore, it is important not to continue determining the restoration of the object according to current commercial demands but to search for a way of adjusting function to its form,” agreed the founders of the nonprofit organization.

In May, the first meeting of the Management Board of the nonprofit organization the Jaromír Krejcar Society that has a single purpose—to save and restore the former sanatorium Machnáč in Trenčianske Teplice—took place. The nonprofit organization’s foundation is a consequence of the previous civic and cultural efforts of an artistic group Abandoned (re)creation. The objective of the institutionalization of these activities is systematic work based not only on professional, legal, economic and grant activities but also on cultural and participatory activities. The organization will bring together experts, cultural and educational institutions, local authorities, business and banking sectors, grant schemes and media in favour of saving the Machnáč sanatorium at national “Czechoslovak” and European levels. The organization’s founders are the rector of the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, Bohunka Koklesová, and the authors of Abandoned (re)creation, photographer Andrea Kalinová and architect Martin Zaiček. Besides the founders, the members of the Management Board of the Jaromír Krejcar Society are the vice-rector of the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, Ľubica Vitková, Prof. Henrieta Moravčíková and the mayor of Trenčianske Teplice, Zuzana Frajková Ďurmeková.

An important Czech architect, Josef Pleskot, said: “The Machnáč sanatorium in Trenčianske Teplice is one of the most beautiful buildings in Czechoslovakia.”

The Machnáč sanatorium is an extremely valuable architectural work built in the interwar period of the First Czechoslovak Republic. It is an iconic representative of European functionalism. The sanatorium was designed by an important Prague architect, Jaromír Krejcar (1895–1950), whose architectural solution reflected not only the period’s technological and inventive progress but also the period’s understanding of humanism, social equality and community sharing of life.

The Machnáč sanatorium is a representative example of building a modern Slovakia during the interwar period; it is an architectural reflection of a dawning city and civic society. As the founder of the Jaromír Krejcar Society and the rector of the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, Bohunka Koklesová, pointed out: “The Machnáč sanatorium is an extremely important monument for the future of our country. It represents social and humanistic values, which cross borders and interconnect Slovak architecture with the best of European creations. It is, therefore, our priority to concentrate our efforts in saving this cultural heritage site.”

Most of Jaromír Krejcar’s architectural works haven’t been preserved; and so, the Machnáč sanatorium is probably the last building through which, even today, we can admire the artistry of this brilliant architect in its original form. By saving and restoring the building of the Machnáč sanatorium, Slovakia would acquire a world-class architectural heritage site in its original authentic form. However, the present condition of the building is deplorable. The privatisations of the 1990s and the continuous changes of the ownership, together with a vague background of the real owners, resulted in the devastation of the building. The owners did not take into account the restoration measures of the building and did not respect the demands of the regional heritage protection office concerning the maintenance of this national cultural heritage site. Numerous original architectural elements—for example, the original inventory designed by Jaromír Krejcar—are completely damaged. The other ones still can be saved, restored and reconstructed, but the time for this work is running out at a dramatic pace. If the building is not conserved immediately, it will be destroyed and irrecoverably lost over the next few years.

“The owners, rotating within a complex network of relationships, with no serious effort to restore the object, have brought one of the most valuable buildings of the 20th century in our territory to the brink of destruction. It is important to emphasize that the destruction of this heritage site would not only be a great tragedy for our cultural heritage but it would most probably also shake the international scene—heritage protection organizations of which Slovakia forms part,” emphasized the director of the Jaromír Krejcar Society, architect Martin Zaiček.

The objective of the nonprofit organization—the Jaromír Krejcar Society—is to purchase the building. The liquidation of property rights is an inevitable precondition for the implementation of the objective of the rescue plan. The consequent heritage restoration and the future sustainable function will be the subjects of an extensive research carried out in cooperation with the scientific and educational institutions that support the project of the Jaromír Krejcar Society. To date those include the town of Trenčianske Teplice, the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, the Faculty of Architecture of the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava and the Department of Architecture of the Institute of History of the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava, together with the following prestigious Czech research and artistic institutions—the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, the Faculty of Architecture of the Czech Technical University in Prague and the Institute of Art History of the Czech Academy of Sciences. The project is also supported by the professional body of the Slovak Chamber of Architects and DOCOMOMO Slovakia.

The Machnáč sanatorium should be partially restored as a sanatorium, but there is also a new vision to use it as a cultural and educational centre for the documentation and study of modern architecture as well as for residencies for architects, designers, artists and art historians. By the realization of this objective, the town of Trenčianske Teplice, together with a broader region of central Považie, will acquire a new structure of visitors, whose activities can represent an impulse for the development of new economic and, more importantly, cultural relationships at international level.

„I am genuinely happy about the creation of the organization. It is important that the town itself has formed part of the project of the restoration of this significant heritage site situated in its territory from the very beginning,” said the mayor of the town of Trenčianske Teplice, Zuzana Frajková Ďurmeková

“We believe that the owners of the object will identify with the solution of the rescue plan of the national heritage site offered by us and will not oppose the realization of this extensive project that would help the whole region,” concluded the founders of the nonprofit organization.