CHATAŘSTVÍ / SUMMERHOUSES
VERONIKA ZAPLETALOVÁ

Influence of the romanticism associated with tramping

The tramping movement in the Czech lands and the architecture associated with it came into existence after World War I under the influence of scouting and as its loose, unorganized continuation, which later developed into an entirely specific life-style. Scouting was introduced to our country by Professor Svojsík in 1911. After the war, former scouts started to go camping in an unorganized, wild and loose manner, thus giving birth to the first tramping "camps" developed along the rivers near Prague, first made out of tents and later enclaves of huts . The first tramping camp was most likely established close to Svatojánské proudy (St. John's Streams) on the Vltava River above the village of Štěchovice in 1918. It was called Ztracená naděje (Lost Hope) or Ztracenka for short, and ceased to exist, like all other camps in the vacinity, due to the construction of the Slapy Dam (1949-54). Some huts were salvaged through relocated above the dam, where the camps have continued to exist until today.

At the beginning of the 1920s people wanted to enjoy themselves, tired from the war. American silent films set in the Wild West appeared in the Czech lands, turning Czech Mařenkas into Maries, and Honzíks into Johns; rivers, brooks, camps and huts were also renamed in the American style under this influence (e.g. the tramping camps Lone Star and Montana; sometimes given Spanish names - the Rio Negro hut). The first log cabins began being built as separate constructions scattered here and there around the country, but developed into a massive construction boom later on, giving birth to the first tramping camps. Initially, they were located near Prague. Later on, tramps started to filter further out into the country, developing a tramping life-style in the surroundings of other cities as well. Since every tramping camp had its own sheriff, there was suddenly a proliferation of them. Campfires with totem poles and volleyball courts were becoming their main attributes and, at the same time, the camps' natural centers, with the first "cowboy saloons" to come into existence. Initially, Indian canoes were imported from North America, and after some time water sportsmen acquired enough skill to be able to make them themselves, which turned canoeing into an important national sport, gradually on a mass scale.

Another reason for this development was the theoretical obligation, valid until the end of the 1990s, to participate in a week-long water sport training program as a part of university studies in the Czech Republic. Recently, the number of canoeists on Czech rivers has increased up to hundreds of thousands annually, which has led to a situation where canoes practically line up forming long queues on popular rivers. The nautical greeting "ahoy" gave rise to the popular Czech "ahoj".

The period between 1919 and 1927 may thus be called the Cowboy era, and that from 1927 to 1933, the Canadian era. The latter was more sober, the tramping life of older tramps grew into a mass movement, hiking and sleeping under tents transformed into more sedate camping. Sports were practiced in tramping camps, but hiking around the countryside was gradually reduced, giving in to stabilized recreation. From 1933, as a result of an economic crisis, the tramping movement was also on the decline, as described by Bob the Hurricane in his History of Camping during World War II.

It is quite interesting to study how the oldest hut, or rather log cabin, constructions and tramping camps behave in the landscape, or the terrain; how sensitive the tramp is when choosing a place for his or her "house" in the wilderness.

The characteristic feature of tramping architecture is its inspiration taken from log cabins. Generally, they are very small constructions designed merely for overnight stays. Their original prototypes were hunting, gold-mining, and cowboy cabins. They often have very small windows, originally unglazed, shut with shutters at the time when a cabin is unoccupied. Sometimes, the log cabin constructions look like miniature Canadian barns with mansarded roofs; the roof, however, may often be of the saddle type as well, or the one-sided sloping, areal type, the pyramidal type, or even having the U-shape of the lancet or Arabic arch. Various combinations of roofs are popular, most often resulting from the gradual, unplanned, organic supplemental growth of a log cabin construction.

The material used for log cabin construction is round timber, usually gathered from the surrounding wood. The constructions are usually demountable and mobile, merging with their surroundings after having been demolished. Oftentimes, the furniture is also made of round timber. The interior is usually very simple, comprised of one room with bunks and a kitchenette. Nearly every log cabin includes, what is considered to be its indispensable component, i.e. an open terrace which is the centre of activity throughout the summer season.

Log cabins are freely situated in the forest, having some space and private area between them; for the most part they are not compacted, side by side, nor separated by any fences. They are especially constructed, earlier as well as later on, along rivers and in the vicinity of ponds or other aquatic areas; the ideal countryside is the hilly, forested, romantic region located south of Prague.

Another significant influence on the establishment of the tramping movement was the prolongation of weekends by adding a free Saturday afternoon to the originally briefer free time on Sunday. Under the socialist regime, stampedes of masses escaping to their cottages after lunch on Fridays became a widespread phenomenon.

The influence of first republic modern architecture OF THE 1920S

 

After World War I, that is, simultaneous with tramping, the unprecedented development of modern architecture throughout the Czech Republic makes its impact on small constructions such as cottages. Outside of Prague and its surroundings, one of the epicenters of construction is Hradec Králové, where new buildings and whole high quality urban complexes are built according to designs by architects Gočár, Kotěra, and others. Like circles diverging away from a stone thrown into the water, the thoughts behind these constructions diffuse into the surrounding villages, where Sokol Halls (gymnasiums of the Sokol Czech gymnastics organisation), cinemas, community centers and villas surprise through their quality, with this influence spreading further into the woods and the countryside where cottages stand in their relative isolation. They have quite a different character than the log cabins built by tramps along the basins of the Sázava, Vltava or Berounka rivers in the vicinity of Prague. The landscape along the Elbe river is flat, more susceptible to the dangers of flooding, thus lending a different image to the cottages between Pardubice and Hradec Králové.

Cottages in this area, in contrast to the log cabins built by tramps, resemble little villas, bearing marks of urban elegance, with the courage, grace and maturity of their shape and proportion, and like log cabins, can still be identified by their relatively independent location at more attractive spots throughout the countryside.

They are built on an elevated plinth comprised of a cellar, and a living space, accessed by a staircase. The constructions, made of boldly colored boards have (in context to the size of the cottages) large all-glass functional perrons built along one whole side of the house. Here, the preferred colour combinations, absolutely atypical for people from Prague, are green and red, rich dark green in combination with dark brown or bright yellow, and bright green with ochre. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to identify the residue of original color schemes due to lack of material and overlapping layers from the period after the war.

the SOCIALIST period 1948-1989

After World War II, nationalization (1948), currency reform (1953), and the commencement of the socialist regime in the 1950s, some reverberations of the noble first-republic architecture (e.g. the "kulturák" or community centre, 101) remain, occurring here and there, but they soon give way to cottage enclaves of a completely different character which react to the political and social changes. The urbanism of cottage enclaves has changed; constructions are built on lots that have been parceled out in advance (including parceled out gardens belonging to villas with what are considered excessive metric areas). Instead of escaping to nature like tramps do, people rather seek opportunities for social contact, self-realization, and, at the very least, symbolic ownership. This is also related to the architectural manifestation of constructions determined by what material is available or what can be bartered.

After 1968, at the time dubbed 'The New Dark Ages', people, suffering from general depression, return to their cottages with an even greater intensity as the cottages represent an escape from society's desperate situation, allowing them to partially forget the closed borders, making travel a forbidden endeavor. The possibility of professional self-realization for all practical purposes disappears, employment is obligatory; people devote their lives to their cottages, to Friday escapes. At the same time, the regime tolerates the holiday home making phenomenon: those who work in their gardens tend not to rebel.

Built anew

The chapter entitled Built Anew includes objects and constructions that originally fulfilled quite a different function, and only after their having been put out of operation, were they subsequently used as huts. These are beer barrels, buses, various wagons, and other, entirely unorthodox "found" objects that were subsequently accessorised, adapted and occupied.

Typical representatives of this type of Czech summerhouse "architecture" are the beer barrels. Wooden beer barrels buckled with iron bands are most often positioned breadthwise, and their interior furnished with beds. Barrels are also visible placed on their rounded bottom, in these cases serving as objects complementing huts, e.g. showers. Such a shower may remain even after a huge cottage/castle has been erected beside it in place of the hut.

Some barrels are positioned on variedly distinctive socles or wooden constructions protecting a barrel from dampness from below and concurrently ensuring its stability. Some other barrels have various forms of roofs preventing rain from getting in from above. In some areas, there are whole villages built out of barrels.

At the Slapy Dam, I discovered a German emergency accommodation unit made out of fiberglass, which was originally intended to be used in catastrophic situations; it was fully equipped with electrical appliances, like a three-room flat, including a refrigerator, washing machine, and a dishwasher. The object was originally located in a camp situated in the Cholín municipality on the opposite bank of the Slapy Dam. However, because the electricity it consumed exceeded the total consumption of the entire camp many times over, it was expelled to the place noted at the time when the photographs were taken, where it was disconnected once and for all. The most recent news about it, reports that it has become an amphibian swimming in the water. As its neighbors, the Krejča family, say, "The pipe has become a part of the "navy." We are not sure whether it could be described as "swimming", but its owner had pontoons made, and so it probably behaves like a true houseboat."

As a result of a regulation which prohibited houseboats to remain in the water, some houseboats around the Slapy Dam are scattered on the surrounding hills, e.g. to the Rabyně village, where they have taken root. Some are freely set on the grass, or they are only chocked, others stand on scaffold legs 308), these are close to the water, and may be partially standing in it , others are walled up, thus creating a specific architectural formation.
In the Kokořín region, huts appear that are chiseled out of sandstone rocks, assuming the tradition of the folk architecture created by the German population expulsed after the war. Part of a house is chiseled out like a cave in a rock, while another part is additionally built in front of it. The terrace of such a cottage then becomes a balcony situated in the vertical matter of the sandstone.
In the area surrounding Kralupy nad Vltavou there are swimming pools or garden water tanks of surprisingly large sizes visible beside huts. As their owners say, they come from equipment that was liquidated from the Neratovice factories.

Other huts were constructed out of discarded caravans and site barracks or the merging of the two. Sometimes they are "dressed" in wood so as to resemble a log cabin construction, in other cases, simple balconies, terraces, and roofing made of fiberglass were attached to them, with embedded first-republic windows, or they are completely hidden, faced with color boards with a ribbon window along the entire perimeter of the object. In contrast to the sterile official functionalism, geometry comes into existence here, the touch of a human hand. Windows are not of the same height, but they inconspicuously increase or decrease in size (328). In another instance, caravans are stacked one on top of another, thus creating a multi-storey house without windows.

A very interesting phenomenon is the Kazín hut enclave on the Berounka river. It was established in the nineteen-twenties and is comprised of two parts. The first one was formed of discarded old trams that at that time were horse-drawn (called 'koňka' in Czech), the second one was created out of discarded changing cabins formerly used at outdoor public swimming pools. Streets were built of tram carriages which had their wheels unmounted, and they were situated horizontally following the contour lines of the hill. The whole complex resides on a rented plot. At the time when the photographs were taken, the area had no sewage system nor electrical power supply, there were no private gardens, only small terraces and tiny cemented yards here and there.

Each side of the enclave has its own pride. Údolí hvězd (Star Valley), the first-republic tramping camp, lying about one kilometer farther down the river, is more than hesitant to profess its kinship with the "horse tram" enclave.

social relationsHIPS

It is interesting to observe how cottages, ergo cottage owners in a figurative sense, relate to one another, how they have gotten on with each other throughout the course of holiday home making, how they live together, sharing the same countryside, as well as individual cottage enclave communities, including their immediate neighborly relationships.

The first log cabin enclaves were established in the open countryside during the nineteen-twenties. They were often built without a building permit, only with the permission of the respective land (wood or meadow) owner, such as for example the Montana enclave in Lštění na Sázavě. Some log cabins were even dismountable. The tramps of the nineteen-twenties and nineteen-thirties, who transformed from vagrants into hut owners, were searching for a place for their tiny construction in a relatively open terrain, still having the opportunity to make their choice to fit their ideal vision. They made use of unevenness, natural vales and elevations, brook valleys, taking the solar ecliptic into account. Such simple log cabins with or without perrons, including their wooden structure and material collected in the surrounding woods, were situated, with relative sensitivity, in the countryside which oftentimes, had been populated for ages. They maintain a certain level of privacy among themselves, yet forming enclaves of several buildings with a volleyball court and a fireplace with a totem representing their centre which partially and subconsciously is a substitute for a square with a church. And so the most atheist of European nations has replaced Sunday church service with music sessions, sitting around a campfire on Saturday evenings and singing songs about Indians and cowboys from North America.

The "cottage-villas" from the period of the First Republic are oftentimes also recognizable thanks to their distinctively more attractive and isolated location. It is often the case that such a building, similar to a log cabin from the same period, stands on its own just a few tens of meters from a fenced, overcrowded cottage enclave from the nineteen-seventies.

Towards the end of the nineteen-fifties, when the land was expropriated, thus suddenly becoming state-owned property, but mainly after 1968, people plunge en masse into the construction of their "little castles" on plots rented for 99 years. Under this desperate onrush, huts obtain absolutely unexpected neighbors. The maximum number of permitted square meters per person is determined for flats, cottages, as well as plots. Construction sites are being demarcated where the land is divided into plots in advance according to the acres permitted, and the future cottage owner selects one tiny little segment out of the many, and - on top of it - from the left-over locations that lack the attractiveness typical for the locations of the oldest huts. Also any larger gardens around older houses and villas are divided into plots and so-called excessive acres are dispossessed to be used for the ongoing constructions.

The tragicomic character of the situation is further emphasized by entirely transparent fences made of wire cloth, with families living their lives behind them in their illusionary privacy, in the immediate vicinity of the private property of the neighboring families.

Summerhouses keep mushrooming around the countryside, nearly everywhere, accompanied, however, by the ever-expanding development of cities and industry. Bizarre situations arise, when the faces of huts and cottages stare at factory chimneys, or stand in close vicinity of historical constructions or complexes. One cottage enclaves is situated approximately one kilometer away from Prague Castle, while others are overgrowing cemetery walls, neighboring a prefab housing estate, or are even built inside it .

The positioning of huts and cottages in the countryside is varied. The oldest ones usually stand alone or in clusters around the countryside, exceptionally including a cirque used primarily for concerts, with the back side of the podium formed by the "Saloon" or, as the case may be, the "kulturák" (community center). Yet others are located side-by-side along waterways (many of them drifted away with the floods in 1997 and 2002, and so some of the photographed specimen no longer exist) and along roads, divided into plots enclosed by one common fence, separated by dusty streets, or being part of an area with older buildings used for permanent residency.

Exceptionally, a colony may be found, such as Hracholusky in the Pilsner Region that forms one side of a street consisting of huts built tightly side-by-side. The width of the facing wall is 2 to 4 m and the spacing distance between them is 20 to 40 cm. As one of the huts' owners told me, "This enclave was built by miners after the war; they knew each other well from the mines and so wanted to enjoy each other's company at weekends too."

Cottages for rent are also built in rows or in semi-detached pairs. In contrast to the self-made huts built of variegated materials, rich in their shapes, there is nothing which would differentiate these cottages one from another, evoking a bizarrely austere impression.

The continuous movement of entire hut enclaves is caused by the need to displace them due to dam and waterway construction. One typical example is the Ztracenka hut enclave built by the former Svatojánské proudy (St. John's Streams), which was partially carried to higher locations by the enclave settlers in 1945 because of the Slapy Dam construction. Thus, a new formation was created, which was subsequently, gradually completed with further huts.

Recently, probably in association with the growing prices of land, disproportion is beginning to occur: constructions of ever-growing sizes are being located on plots of ever-decreasing areas. Sometimes, cottages, in the process of spreading across small plots, even mutually interweave.

As regards social relationships, the Kazín enclave holds an exceptional position, which I have already mentioned in the chapter on objects built anew. The buses which were discarded from the so-called "koňka" (horse-drawn trams) in the period of the First Republic form one to two meter wide streets without any electrical power supply, sewage system or demarcated plots. Despite that, they remain a favorite weekend destination of newer and newer generations of holiday home makers who seem to be happy there.

Critical reviews of the period rejected the mushrooming holiday homes as a blemish marring the image of the countryside. In my opinion, the invasion of holiday home makers was practically harmless as compared to the current liquidation of the countryside by industrial zones, advertisement and clusters of constructions built in the entrepreneurial baroque style.

Glasshouses

Glasshouses are transparent garden constructions for the growth of plants in an environment which is warmer and more humid than its exterior surroundings. They require a maximum permeability of light and the capacity to retain heat and humidity.

They are built in gardens around cottages by the cottage owners (and builders) themselves, and like the cottages, they not only fulfill their function, but at the same time are the owner's pride and evidence of his skill. Thus, fragile, transparent constructions of outrageous shape; independent, translucent sculptures are brought into existence.

Generally, recycled and miscellaneous materials are used for the construction of glasshouses, e.g. polythene, old windows from buildings, but also bus or train windows, prefabricated corrugated laminate, jars, plastic bottles, both of the latter mentioned types have been promoted by Přemek Podlaha's television program for DIY types, Receptář nejen na neděli (Book of Recipes Not Only for Sunday). (Recently, plastic bottles have also been used in place of polystyrene to protect water tanks from frost). Glasshouses are also made of nylon curtains or glass bricks, and all these materials are combined in various ways. Old linoleum may serve to consolidate a path around a glasshouse. Jars are used as foundations for lighter constructions made of PET bottles or they skirt the edges of vegetable patches.

Glasshouse structures are also the pride of their constructors. They are usually made of brick as regards jar constructions, in the case of other material they are wooden or metal, welded or made of wire. The architectural pearl is the roof and load-bearing columns made solely of jars. This model had been allegedly invented by its owner himself about five years before it began being promoted by Přemek Podlaha.

One can neither overlook illuminative accessories that attempt to interconnect allied materials, for example, here it is glass.

The shape of a glasshouse corresponds to its function and construction material. They are designed as ground level constructions and so mostly fit only low growing plants. Saddle roofs are the most common, i.e. triangular. Glasshouses made out of plastic bottles often have semi-circle barrel arched roofs, exceptionally, the roof of a segmented arch shape is used. Glasshouses made of jars have walled lateral columns and various forms of glass boards serve as the roof .

The sensitivity of the intuitive work of the glasshouse that copies its terrain, even in an organic manner, is remarkable.

The glasshouse inspiration opens up a wide field of activity and opportunity for architects, as well as laymen, not only in the field of glasshouses themselves, but also as regards various garden sitting areas made of the above stated or similar material.

Fences

During the period of the First Republic, fences are not a common feature in the oldest tramp camps, and they don't generally appear around scattered cottages influenced by higher level urban architecture either. A fence may demarcate a garden, yet it concurrently separates it from its surroundings, and the tramps' goal - at least as they envisioned it - was to blend into the forest following the example set by Indians. There was enough room and so it was not necessary to defend and demarcate one's own living space. Private property was perceived as something normal, by contrast, it was not normal to steal state property, as later became the habit after the war. Fences were only found around larger villas and summer residences.

The development of "fence" culture only begins after WWII and its origin is directly related to; the mass character of the holiday home making movement and the decrease in attractive countryside locations; the crowded smaller properties divided into plots designed to be used for the construction of cottages; the need to delimit one's own space; the longing to own private property; the effort to ensure, at the very least, illusionary protection against burglars due to greater energy and financial funds invested into cottages. If there isn't a fence, if it's missing, the land owner may even be considered to be sloppy.

Thus many fences come into existence, the decorative function of which, cannot be overlooked. I will attempt to sort them, at least to some extent.

Apart from stone fences surrounding villas from the period of the First Republic, the oldest fences are made of wood, wooden slats, and hedges.

After WWII and later on, especially during the nineteen-seventies, metal fences began to appear which can be divided into three basic types - woven metal fences , fences made of residual metal clad plates out of which component parts were punched, and finally wire rod fences.

The residual metal clad plates with their punched out elements, which comprise the majority of the plate, are welded together and painted in various ways, creating ornamental, sometimes even lacy, coloured fences, generally with concrete foundations.

The last type of metal fence that shouldn't be overlooked is the welded fence made of shaped ingot bars (so called "roxor"). In some instances, their authors create geometric patterns (it is again a kind of geometry bearing the touch of a human hand), when a repeated raster appears along the entire surface. Some patterns include, fish scales, haphazard curves, as though created through means of an automatic drawing method, spirals, and ripples. Furthermore, central motifs periodically appear, such as, different variations of the sun, including the favorite, rising sun motif, but also other central motifs with radial expanding backgrounds such as, cherry trees, rhombuses , wheels, house numbers, letter boxes, and others. The integration of concrete objects into fences, serving a decorative function is also popular - e.g. a spark plug from an engine used as a jewel in a car mechanic's fence.

The third type of fence made of ingot rods are figural or factual illustrative panels covering the entire fence area, e.g. with motifs from fairytales or animated characters, like Ferda Mravenec (Ferda the Ant - a popular Czech storybook character), Mickey Mouse, as well as other animal and organic motifs with various levels of stylization. These fences come into existence and spread in a similar way as elements of folk architecture do. Sometimes they are created by the owners themselves, but mostly, when the welding is a bit more complicated, several fences in the neighborhood are made by the "local welder" (this may be a skilled cottage keeper as well).

In the nineteen-seventies, it was common to paint fences carefully in variegated colors each year, maintaining them through means of paint appropriate for metal. As late as the nineteen-eighties, fences are painted in one, mostly dull shade, that replaced the various vivid colours. This phenomenon is related to a change in aesthetic opinion, but can also be attributed to the rising cost of paint. Painting cottage fences was considered child's work for the summer holiday. It was possible to recognize whether the respective cottage owner was from Prague according to the color of wooden, or metal parts of cottages or fences. Individuals from Prague used coats of dark brown, matte paint, as they considered it tawdry to use additional colours; cottage owners from smaller towns generally chose a glossy, medium brown colour.

Occasionally fences are decorated with objects mounted on the bearing columns. It is partially a functional solution, preventing water from getting into the rods or, earlier, wooden dowels, but also serves as an aesthetic element. Glass balls - solid or sand-blasted, plastic bottles, etc. have replaced the pots which were formerly used.

When spending time at cottages, more than nature itself, people often seek social contact that anonymous life in cities fails to provide them. They want to chat with their neighbor while she is cooking, but at the same time feel the need to own their own piece of property. This gave rise to a very interesting phenomenon of summerhouses and lives existing side by side, yet behind fences, even if often made only of woven metal, i.e. without limiting the view of private space. They say installing an opaque fence might hurt the neighbor's feelings. At the same time, summerhouses, as opposed to country houses, have no courtyards and are not L-shaped, being freestanding structures open from all sides.

Despite their absolute transparency, fences function as imaginary walls, fortified with barbs.

The most recent trend is represented by heavy, opaque fences, resembling overdimensional cement or stone fortresses, which do not allow one to view the garden located behind them. Such fences painfully stick out of the landscape, with as big a house as possible choking on the tiny piece of land which they enclose.

SMall-sCALE sculpture

Gaping over a fence near Neratovice in a garden with a castle and a kind of a green stature-sized figure made of cement, I asked a woman who was just passing by, "What is it?" She was sincerely surprised by my question. Her answer was, "A toadwoman. Can't you see?".

The need to create, improve, and produce self-made artifacts related to holiday home making, allows us to observe, besides the construction itself, handmade figures or statuettes positioned in gardens. The approach towards the materials which such figures are made out of is also novel, and once again, one can read in them the era they are from and recognize geographical differences.

During the period of the First Republic and later on, the inspiration by North American Indians is especially legible where we see totems made of wood or natural materials, exceptionally African influenced totems as well. Totems are usually placed by campfires. Bonfires usually take place on Saturday evenings. The campfires with a totem would be, and are partially still used, either by the whole camp or by a private person. As the Indian spirit continues to gradually disappear, totems are slowly moved to rock gardens.

The intermediary stage between figures that are entirely made of wood and those that have been found, i.e. ready-made objects, is represented by "semi-finished" statuettes, as mentioned in the magazine Chatař chalupář (p.16, 2001). They include for example the "Green Man" or the "Wild Man of the Woods" serving as a watcher of the camp by Husinecká přehrada (the Husinecká Dam) near Prachatice. It is more figurative, yet less carved, moving slowly towards the posture of a colored objet trouvé. Even closer to the objet trouvé comes the animal head or the sculpture of connate boleti, which belong among scultpture-findings, with its shape and charm emphasized simply by a planispheric white color scheme.

Objets trouvé are pieces of wood that remind the author - their finder - of something (figures, wild forest creatures), or he/she most likely brought them back from the woods only because of the beauty of their shape. They are usually cleaned and varnished, installed in the interior or exterior of the cottage, sometimes hung from the ceiling like mobile sculptures.

The wooden sculptural group of a woman and a child in the basin of Kačák is unique. It is carved in the residue of a huge tree, i.e. in a high tree stump, thus growing out of the ground or being connate with it, in fact. It creates a homogeneous monolithic unit, brought to life by planispheric red, white and blue colors.

In honor of another Czech passion, mushroom picking, another material that has become popular is leftover concrete from cottage construction or adaptation. Mushrooms may be cast in anything that is on hand, but most preferably and solidly in concrete. Appropriately installed hordes of - mostly - edible type (however, this is not a prerequisite) concrete mushrooms of various sizes decorate entire gardens. The foot is cast in a lavatory paper roll, ketchup bottle, or compote jar, while the head in one half of an small old children's ball or a plastic ice cream container. It doesn't matter that it's angular, quite the contrary. The colour is mixed directly into the wet concrete. The older models have more realistic shapes, such as for example the concrete boletus on Císařský ostrov (the Imperial Island), the natural color of concrete at the time when its photograph was taken.

Homemade dwarfs, which can be found in gardens around Czech cottages since the First Republic, are also cast in concrete. They need to be painted afresh regularly, as their color tend to wash off. Besides the dwarfs and their mushrooms, there may appear, for example, First Republic toads or farmwives or other rural motifs.

Other things are also cast in concrete, e.g. a dummy made out of PET bottles and spray painted silver, which is to serve, as its author claims, as a warning and protest against the proceeding civilization and the "PET bottle" industry. The same author has also produced a windmill, which was completely cast in a plastic bottle and made complete only through the addition of a rotating, colour propeller. At the time when the photographs were taken, a female figure was being created, lying on her back in a little pool, also made of PET bottles. It was possible to spurt water from her breasts by means of a pumping device and hose connected to it from the kitchen.

A substantial dose of romantic hedonism is also manifested in various outdoor sitting areas, thrones and still-life nooks with tables and chairs.

And it was the holiday home makers from Prague who, as a part of their discovery of the charm of old country houses and tools, demonstrated their initiative attitude by decorating the walls of their cottages with dark-brown-painted wheels from old wagons that had fallen to pieces. After about ten years, this aesthetics was adopted by holiday home makers from smaller cities as well, who are now abandoning it with a similar tempo.

Quite often, decorations appear in gardens that serve as tomato plant support pole caps, serving the role of scarecrows simultaneously. A very interesting garden can be found near Pardubice in Počáply. Unfortunately, as its owners complain, new toys are very expensive these days and so old children's toys have to be used. But they may be given as presents and then pronged on tomato poles. After years of sun exposure, the plastic acquires an interesting structure.

Quite exceptionally, Christian themes occur as well. There is a "small chapel" in Davle by the Sázava River. Its base on the wall is formed by a silver mat; its frame is made of brown-painted polystyrene whose original function was for the transportation of a refrigerator or other electric device. Under several recurrent postcards of the Virgin Mary with a child who is stylized as a Barbie doll, there is the following inscription: "He + who + steals + here + shall + loose + their + hand + within + one + year".

An important component of gardens, more and more frequent and less and less possible to ignore, are the rotating scarecrows made of PET bottles. Their authors, again, make use of any excessive material and the scarecrows function as windmills fashioned out of several colour bottles cut in various shapes, and the multicoloured compositions of lids. Usually, they are additionally coloured, most often spray painted red.

Material

Human beings react to situations they have been existing in or thrown into, as well as to the material and stimuli in their immediate surroundings. Man creates for himself a legible equivalent of the universe, as stated in the Larousse, Art and Mankind, 1958.

Similarly, as with other naive architecture and cultures, the material used by holiday home makers follows the spirit of the respective time period, being themselves, concurrently its source of inspiration. Upon their contact with civilization, indigenous peoples or inhabitants of suburban slums in developing countries start abandoning the use of existing natural resources and begin using omnipresent and financially more available plastics instead, furthering the process in variegated ways. Products from wool are made for rich tourists whom they are sold to for high prices, but the products that are used daily by the native people are made from civilizational materials. Countrywomen in South America walk with vividly coloured plastic bags, others weave their bags from polythene milk packages cut into strips, creating various types of flowers - from tiny fragile flowerettes to garlands of green foliage - from plastic bottles cut into fragments. Unbelievably coloured plastic objects are sold at local markets.

In all cultures, part of household waste was recycled; holiday home makers did so in the same manner. Under the pressure of a particular shortage, which however still enables one to ponder beauty, a completely new ethnography had come into existence. Regarding plastic, this process may still catch us unawares, but civilization has been pumping out large quantities of materials that may subsequently be used by native people and holiday home makers, as long as they are not hopelessly "buried under them", in new, revelatory ways, in completely new contexts.

Material appearing at the onset of the Czech holiday home making movement include primarily traditional wood, while stone was utilized less often. Later on, similarly as in the folk architecture, after the first trend wave, the influx of material from cities begins, and these materials are then combined and utilized at cottages in completely new and unexpected ways, acquiring - despite the initial shock and desperate questions of the innocent bystander, "Why?" and "What led the owner to do that?" - quite new aesthetic values that could be utilized elsewhere. I might provide the example of a stone sticking out of the masonry that originally protected a cellar window, which now casts a shadow on a glass-brick window, i.e. it is a combination of stone, softly modeled gauged lime plaster covering the wall, and a huge glass-brick. Other examples include outdoor furniture made of wood and linoleum, a wooden gate covered with hard wallpaper or cardboard imitating brick masonry, glasshouses made out of plastic PET bottles and jars combined with wood, glass illuminating bulbs and linoleum, and also concrete mushrooms, various shaped mirrors placed in colourful compositions, large pieces of subtly colored glass built in stone columns or glass and plastic pieces freely embedded in plaster, in some places even creating translucent windows.

The "geometry bearing the touch of a human hand " that was mentioned earlier should not be overlooked either. It is nearly a regular rhythm, a decorum created from various materials that - as not having been produced by machines, but by human hands in an intuitive manner - form slightly "erroneous" asymmetric, nevertheless eye-pleasing compositions which contrast with the barrenness of housing estates and industrial production.