CHATAŘSTVÍ / SUMMERHOUSES
VERONIKA ZAPLETALOVÁ

A cottage - a poverty-stricken little cottage, chalet, shanty. In beggarly shanties, pitiable folk forgot their pain. (Zeyer) (1935-37) Příruční slovník jazyka českého, Česká akademie věd a umění, Praha, pg. 10.

Architectural ideals may not always be accomplishable and artistic visions survive as poems - sometimes less successful. The course of time etches its own grooved path that needs to be adjusted to. And so architectural poems turn into the builder's prose. (1947) Freiwald, Jindřich: Chaty sruby domky - Zásady rekreačního bydlení. Praha: Orbis, červen 1947, pg. 33.

Weekend - a word that does not yet have its own equivalent in Czech, arriving from the West along with technology...it is neither Sunday, despite sharing its rhythm - nor is it a holiday which as such dwells in the extraordinary.(1948) Weekend - Ukázky účelného zařízení a doplňků weekendových chat, Galerie Elku v Pošově síni,

Sooner or later, the craving for necessary change will lead us to the thought "I'd like to build a cottage, but..."(1970) Oldřich Janalík: Stavíme chatu - Chata váš domov. Praha: Merkur 1970, str. 22.

We know from our own experience that to look forward to a place or an event is a joy that shortens the time from Sunday to Saturday when we have to wait. (1970) ibid. pg.22

To breed hens in breeding pens is justifiably considered cruel behavior towards animals and a shameful aspect of our culture. Yet, it is permitted, without limitation, to leave people to the same fate, although it is the human being who suffers most from being handled in such a literally inhumane way. To be able to respect oneself normally, one should be entitled to maintain one's individuality. A person is not constructed phylogenetically as an ant or termite, that is, an anonymous and interchangeable element among millions of absolutely similar elements - this is not an existence man is able to endure. There is only one option inhabitants of the hutches for economically profitable people have to maintain their self-respect: to banish the existence of many similar co-sufferers from their consciousness, to shut oneself away from one's neighbors inside a shell.(1973) Lorenz, Konrád: Osm smrtelných hříchů. 1973, pg. 24.

According to an existing survey, the ownership of a cottage is not limited only to certain social classes or groups, but it transgresses evenly across the entire population. It is a "collective" mass social phenomenon. (1972) Matějů, Martin: Československý architekt, 1972, n. 25, 26. Text for photographs of Pavel Štecha)

The law in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic prohibited the ownership of a second flat...the fundamental point of departure was enforced as regards the ownership of cottages. (See the statistic - worldwide, it is a unique situation with respect to the number of inhabitants and the size of the republic.) (1972) ibid

What was the process like that made the human relationship towards the landscape a relationship of cultural quality? When did man rate it as something that is endowed with an aesthetic value and when did he develop an emotional relationship to it? (1988) Librová, Hana: Láska ke krajině. Brno: Blok, 1988. str. 25.

On Sunday evenings, television announcers welcome viewers who have just returned home from their cottages.(?!) (1988) ibid. pg. 142.

At that time we started to go to the pub Na Čurandě, where the crowd around the music group Umělá hmota used to gather. After some time most of those who belonged to the Prague underground community went there. The series "Chalupáři" (Country House Owners), that was belauded by folks, just happened to be on television. It occurred several times that I arrived at Na Čurandě to witness an unbelievable scene. The pub, which was bursting with people, was as silent as a tomb. The most orthodox followers of "alternative" culture were sitting with their mouths open, watching yet another episode about non-conformal rednecks. Woe betide he who would have dared to order his beer aloud. As soon as the story finished, members of the underground resumed their discussion about Lou Reed's latest album and similar things. (1992) Hlavsa, Mejla - Pelc, Jan: Bez ohňů je underground. Praha: Nakladatelství BFS, 1992. pg. 105.

It is interesting that nearly forty-one percent of respondents personally participated in the construction of the object they own. Meaning, forty-one percent of owners constructed the objects which they still own today. The other objects were constructed by their previous owners, who built them with their own hands, but the current owners mostly participated personally in the further completion of the work. This explains their strong emotional bond to the object. It is common knowledge that one most appreciates what he or she has accomplished through his or her own efforts. (2001) Ivan Bičík a kol.: Druhé bydlení v Česku. Praha: Univerzita Karlova. Přírodovědecká fakulta. Katedra sociální geografie a regionálního rozvoje, 2001. Šetření rekreačních objektů v zázemí Prahy v letech 1991-1997, Ivan Bičík a Dana Fialová, pg. 77

From 1970-1991, the number of individual recreational objects actually grew two and a half fold, which has no global equivalent. Indubitably, the nineteen-eighties may be considered the end of the peak period in the development of second home construction. (2001) ibid, Vývoj druhého bydlení v Česku. Praha: Univerzita Karlova. Přírodovědecká fakulta. Katedra sociální geografie a regionálního rozvoje, 2001. Jiří Vágner, str. 49

Architects, doctors, artists, and scientists change their social roles at the end of every week, becoming cabinetmakers, fruit growers, bricklayers, and neighbors. They are proud of their self-sufficiency as artisans. (2001) ibid

...the development of second homes under conditions in the Czech Republic has been significantly supported through strong differentiation of the countryside in a small area. The location of Prague, the very attractive recreational surroundings in its close vicinity, the valleys (partially deep, wild, and rocky) of the Vltava, Sázava, and Berounka rivers and their tributaries create the so-called "golden cross" of the holiday home making phenomenon. The interesting and attractive relief is also potentiated by the woody character of the area. Quite an important role was also played by railway traffic, especially the lines tracing the above mentioned valleys. It was this type of transportation's character that enabled development of mass recreational commuting to lower social classes as well. (2001) ibid

"Chata" - this word is common mainly in the Ukrainian and Byelorussian languages, having its origin in the omni-Slavonic "chata" which was derived from the Iranian word "kata", meaning house, cellar, or pit. The "k" was most likely changed to "ch" in certain Iranian languages. (2001) Rejzek, Jiří: Český etymologický slovník.

His heart gravitated towards his kingdom with growing intensity; he longed for the opportunity to move there. Yet, he dared to dream that, one day, he would be allowed to stay in the hut overnight. Here, he would live his life of dreams - the life of an Indian, however, without all things evil and cruel. (1904) Seton, Ernst Thompson: Dva divoši. Přeložili Libuše Bubeníková a Jiří Valja. Praha: Albatros, 1983. pg. 34.

It isn't fashion that leads them to the woods; it is nothing else but a love for the wilderness that surrounds them. Everybody wanted to experience the romanticism of the books written by May, everybody was longing for grey expanses that might have its beginning, for example, at Prokopské údolí, Chuchle, Zbraslav, Závist, Károv, and its end at Borovském údolí (the Borovské Valley) or Libřice. The year is 1914! (1940) Hurikán, Bob: Dějiny trampingu. Druhé, upravené vydání. Praha: Novinář, 1990, pg.14

The year 1919 arrived and with it films set in the Wild West. One of the first was The Red Ace. The epoch-making series utterly shook the souls of the pioneers of tramping, who would not be known by any other name than "wild scouts", filling them with excitement for heroic cowboy types, Wintrow and Mary Walsamp, accepting the romanticism offered them through this medium (1940) ibid. pg. 7.

The first propagator of the (tramp) camping movement, that modern religion, was Ernest Thompson Seton, a hunter, writer, natural scientist, and painter of animals. In 1902, he established a youth movement in America called the Woodcraft Indians, which had nearly half a million members before WWI. In 1904, E. T. Seton visited England to introduce his teachings to the old motherland, but he met with misunderstanding there. As late as 1906, however, he met General Baden-Powell, who adapted the idea to the English environment. Sir Robert Baden-Powell, who was an officer, rejected the underlying Indian ideology after two years of practice, and introduced military ranks and stricter discipline into his association, calling all these aspects the Scouting movement. He partially took over Seton's direction, adding to it his experience from the English colonies, the illustrious example and model of Japanese samurais, and created scouting that conquered the whole world within less than four years! In our country, the first organizer was brother Professor A.B. Svojsík. As early as in 1911 he left for England to become acquainted with English scouting, about which surprising news had been spreading. The idyllic scenes of life led by scouts in the woods, their impeccable demeanor, and dedication to do good had made a strong impression on him. The development of scouting was set back by World War I. After the war, young people either did not have a chance to join the scouting movement, or, having been influenced by May's books, rejected the discipline ascribed by scouts, and gave preference to rambles full of unlimited freedom. (1940) ibid. pg.12.

Měsíční údolí (Moon Valley), the valley along Benešovský potok (Benešov Brook) - the year on the tear-off calendar is 1922, the year of a beautiful summer when two cowboys, tired and covered with dust, entered the valley... Inspired by the black silhouette of a huge fir tree lit by the moonlight, they named the valley after the Moon and shook their hands in a silent grasp that expressed all their love and desire: "It's here or nowhere!" ...Two years followed, spent under a tent, then a first hut was built, then another, then a whole little town settled by gold miners in Alaska. (1940) ibid. pg. 67.

The sinisterly ripped up rocks, forested hillsides, dangerous paths, the red-hot sun, the magic light of the moon, the glitter of millions of stars, purring rapids, calm coves, sandbanks, the green carpet - peace, silence, the campfire...Beautiful Wilderness brought down to the moving strip of water, the scent of calamus and oleoresin - it is the Golden River (Sázava) (1940) ibid. pg. 52

Nowhere else in the world were there as many sheriffs as in the Czech lands from 1919-1920. There was not a gang without its own sheriff, not even a couple that would fail to have one. (1940 ) ibid. pg. 19.

During the time of cowboy sombreros and chaparejos, it was no exception when up to several hundred romantics came to gather around campfires, thus turning what was otherwise the calm village of Senohraby into a real encampment of gold miners...Massed around the campfires themselves were boys from almost all of Prague's districts. (1940) ibid. str. 78

Towards the end of the week, hundreds of tramps, young and old, encumbered with strange guitars or haversacks rush away from the city to the countryside. Why do these people devote themselves to tramping? Why do we devote ourselves to tramping? (1940) ibid. pg.10

There is another type of hut which is rather absurd, however, because it is also quite proliferated in our country, it is impossible to overlook, pursuant to the quantity rule, we have to accept it and shape it as far as possible. Perhaps it can be called the "cowboy" or "tramp" style. This model is very popular among young people who want to turn their huts into "ranches", or at least a piece of the "Wild West", at any cost, regardless of being situated by the Sázava or Berounka rivers. Bringing alien elements into an environment where they do not belong is sometimes exaggerated, the result of hut owners' eclecticism or their inorganic hodge-podge selections of all kinds. This also includes the so-called "eagle nests" on steep rock faces, which can only be accessed by means of rope ladders, resembling scenes from Verne's books. One might say it is an expensive toy and the juvenile energy spent on its construction might be utilized in a better way. (1963) Vaculík, Jaroslav: Rekreační ubytování. Polytechnická knižnice. 23. svazek III. řady Udělejte si sami. Praha: SNTL, 1963.

In 1888, Klub českých turistů (The Czech Hiking Club) was established in Prague, associating hiking societies from various towns and cities... Nowhere else in the world can we encounter a network of hiking trails of such density, high quality of form, and of such well-thought-out conception, bearing the marks of a tradition spanning several decades. Mind you, The Czech Hiking Club paid extraordinary attention to the marking of the trails! The issue of hiking trail localization was discussed on the pages of the Club's magazine, as well as the selection of natural and historical sites of interest towards which the trails should be directed, issues of the logic and the colour system of markings and its technical implementation. (1988) Librová, Hana: Láska ke krajině. Brno: Blok, 1988. str. 123

Other societies that significantly contributed towards forming a relationship to the countryside in the Czech lands during the first decades were the so-called residents' associations for the beautification and protection of the homeland. They drew their inspiration as regards the organization and promotion of their activities from older and more experienced hiking clubs. Written documents of the residents' associations, especially the content of their magazine "Krása našeho domova" (The Beauty of Our Homeland) evidence that towards the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century, interest in the countryside and its "cultivation" was spreading with strong intensity, especially within middle class and bourgeois circles, figuring among their "noble interests." If protection of the countryside had been a part of aristocratic attitudes until then, it has also, for the time being, spread among the bourgeoisie and the middle class. (1988) ibid. pg.123

At a superficial glance, it might seem the tramping movement is an imitation of some sort of foreign model. This is not true. To the contrary. The pioneers of our tramping movement only employed foreign terms that "smacked" of exotica. For example, they appropriated the word "tramp" from the book The Road by Jack London. The term "tramp" in English means a vagrant, swagman, etc., and a "hobo" is a wandering man who makes a habit of hopping freight trains (Canadian Era). Had it been translated into Czech, it would not have brought any good to the hikers of the society of the day, and so they used the original term. The tramping movement - as it was pursued in our country - was the only tramping in the world. Tramping in our country, with its associations with freedom, representing a life unrestrained by prejudices, with its sportsmanlike competitiveness, and pedagogical elements of a manly life-style led by people who loved nature, especially that of their motherland, was, in its essence, always typical for us, distinctive and original in its character. (1991) Berka, Miroslav: Posázavský pacifik - Historie železnic a trampingu na Zlaté řece. Praha: Nadas, 1991. pg. 96

The Canadian Era (1927-33) gave rise to manufacturers of sporting and hiking goods or appurtenances, as well as specialized sports shops. Even totem poles were produced industrially. (1991) ibid. pg.106

Then came February of 1948. The following years were absolutely unsupportive for the tramping movement. First, scouting was suppressed ex officio (1950), allegedly because "it was an offshoot of English and American imperialism". Of course, the tramping movement was also blacklisted... However, the turn of the 1950s and 1960s was literally a period governed by young people, who swarmed with their guitars in railway stations and on the roads. The police were often on standby duty, tramps were often persecuted and put through degrading interrogations. However, the number of those who favored uninhibited wandering grew at a steady pace...(1991) Hurikán, Bob: Dějiny trampingu. Druhé, upravené vydání. Praha: Novinář, 1990. Doslov, Motl Stanislav, str. 250.

The authors propose to make use of the recreational traditions in the Kocába Valley for the construction of a nature trail "Following the Footsteps of Tramping on the Snake River", and they strive to promote a certain type of protection for old recreational objects (log cabins and wooden huts in the tramping camps) as they are very precious components of traditional architecture and evidence of the specific life-style associated with it. (2001) Bičík, Ivan a kol.: Druhé bydlení v Česku. Praha: Univerzita Karlova. Přírodovědecká fakulta. Katedra sociální geografie a regionálního rozvoje, 2001. Druhé bydlení v regionu Dolní Kocába, Fialová Dana, Vágner Jiří, 2001, pg. 131.

Ahoj - originated from the English "ahoy", which was a marine greeting; it means a boat, a dinghy, hey, or hello. It came to Bohemia thanks to the tramping movement via Lower Germany where the word "ahoi" was used. (2001) Rejzek Jiří, Český etymologický slovník. Praha: Leda

It might do well to construct in a manner that would be even more well-thought-out than the style that I used; e.g. to take into consideration and identify the substantial features of human nature that are represented by the door, window, cellar, attic... (1853) Thoreau, Henry David: Walden aneb Život v lesích. Přeložil Josef Schwarz. Vydání páté, v tomto překladu první. Praha: Odeon, 1991. pg. 43.

No matter which architecturally beautiful creation I see today, I always find that it has grown, gradually, from inside out, from the needs and character of the person who lives there and who is in actuality its sole constructor - without any subconscious genuineness or grandeur, without any thought, not even a tiny hint, of external effect. (1853) ibid. pg.

The adjustment to half day working hours on Saturdays and the postponement of work by one hour on Mondays enables everybody to get out of the city at the weekend. (1930s) pg. 45.

Today, everybody has their favorite locality, a "nook" where they like to go, where they desire to build their "weekend" - a cottage for the weekend, to be able to spend their Sundays and holidays. (1930s) ibid. pg. 35.

This means that most cottages are built and shall be built with merely one room. This single room is then divided into three sections: the living area, the kitchen area, and a section with beds. A cellar supplements this one room ... common toilets are built for the entire cottage enclave. (1930s) ibid.

The indispensable part of every cottage design is the veranda. Either large or small, but always a veranda as part of the cottage. Work is done, food eaten, and rest taken on the veranda, while the cottage is merely a shelter where one can stay overnight and when the weather is bad. (1933) Štaif, V.: Chaty, domky, weekend. Dolní Počernice: vlastním nákladem, O. Pyšvejc (distributor), 1933. pg. 6.

Wooden cottages are made either as permanent or knock-down structures. As regards the knock-down constructions, the bearing structure must be adjusted so as it might be fixed with only screws, sleeper bolts, sheet metal, and connection angles, etc. (1930s) ibid, pg. 7.

This modern type of housing (summerhouses) gives rise to a considerable reversal in opinion and the layout of ground plans in general. The influence of these buildings on the general construction level is significant. Mainly because it unties the mind from existing common habits and ideas, striking new paths for new opinions. (1947) Freiwald, Jindřich: Chaty sruby domky - zásady rekreačního bydlení, Praha: Orbis. pg. 10

Building permit requirements: ...a list of the main materials necessary for construction, stating their origin (whether from demolitions, one's own production, purchased)..., a certificate of an applicant's achievements at work (mark of distinction, acceptance of a proposal for improvement submitted by an applicant, etc.) and a list of individuals who will help with the construction and are not members of an applicant's family. These workers will obtain a certificate from the Work Council of the factory where they are employed confirming that the ROH (the local committee of the Revolutionary Trade Union Movement) has taken into account the fact that they will help with the construction and that through their participation will not be neglecting their own duties at the workplace, meaning, they would work on the cottage construction only in their free time , outside of their working hours (on Saturday afternoons, on Sundays, during holidays, etc.) This certificate is to be attached to the building permit. (1958 -72) Tajovský, Václav: Rekreační chaty - Individuální výstavba a montované typy. Praha: SNTL, 1958 (15 200 výtisků), 1964 (23 000 výtisků), 1972 (34 200 výtisků), pg. 7.

The smallest hut, a minimum size of 2 x 2m is designed for the brief stay of two people, for example during Saturday and Sunday recreation. (1958 - 72) ibid. pg. 42.

They have fallen in love with their work so deeply that they will never reveal the truth to you as they resist admitting their mistakes, even when they are already down and out, as the saying goes. One might regard this as even astonishing - what is the source of their optimism and stamina, enabling them to claim that it is none but their construction that is the most economical and the best of all, and that they would not use any other construction methods, if given a second chance. However, the reality is often other, they use very expensive and toilsome working processes. (1963) ibid. pg. 180.

The Cottage - our signature in the countryside: the cottage has become our second home, and because we have about 48 hours a week for it, we often try to construct it with too much haste. (1970) Janalík, Oldřich (ed.): Stavíme chatu. Praha: Merkur, 1970. pg. 5.

Building sites are more or less the same everywhere (400m2). On one plot there is a 6 x 6m cottage, on the neighboring plot 5 x 6m, yet on another 3 x 3m, or even 2 x 3m. In addition to that, they are all their constructors' original expression, mostly laymen. (1970) ibid. pg. 8.

Specialists - architects are occupied with other important tasks, as are city planners, therefore everything is left up to the discretion of either constructors, or national committees to decide how the beauties of our motherland will be handled. For a non-specialist it is quite difficult, especially when we do not have an organized advisory & designing service focusing on this field, which would be additionally available. (1970) ibid. pg. 8.

The Civil Code expressly stipulates that a person may only have the ownership title to one family house, but there is no reference made to cottages. (1970) ibid. pg. 9.

A plot for the construction of a cottage may be obtained through long-term leasing from a national committee of the respective municipality. The building plot lease is stipulated for 99 years, however, after the lapse of that period of time, the term of the lease may be renewed. (1974) ibid. pg. 17.

One of the disadvantages of do-it-yourself work is a certain incompetense. On the contrary, its general advantage is higher quality because whoever works for himself works thoroughly and complies with technological procedures in a very punctilious manner. (1985) Měšťan, R.: Stavba a úprava chaty. Polyechnická knižnice. Praha: SNTL, pg. 31.

Recreational buildings became a place where their owners or their families spent more than one third of the year. (Prolonged weekends, holidays)...This gives rise to the question, In which place do these people identify themselves with the term "home"?, Where do they feel at home? This "housing schizophrenia" seems to be a relevant feature of the life-style in our society. (2001) ibid. pg. 48.

There is a large number of the smallest villages in our country. We have one of the most dense settlement networks in Europe.(1968) Kadlec, Alex - Kadlecová, Anna: Rekreační chalupy. Praha: SNTL, 1968. str. 21.

Respondents for the most part do not share the opinions of casual visitors who often experience uneasiness provoked by the excessive concentration of second homes and overpopulation. On the contrary, they speak highly of the congenial relationships among neighbors which often substitutes for the lack of communication among people in places of their permanent residence. (2001) ibid. pg. 84.

While the chata owners retained strong collective elements, in their weekend house habits, the chalupa residents were decidedly more individualistic. (2005) Thorne, Vanda: Ideologies and Realities of Masses in Communist Czechoslovakia. Pittsburg: University of Pittsburg. Faculty of Arts and Science, 2005. pg. 101.

There were 100 000 in 1960, 151 000 in 1971, 230 000 in 1980, and 260 000 in 1991 cottages/chatas. ...around 20 percent of all houses in the country were solely used for recreational purposes. (2005) ibid. pg. 98

A cottage should not be enclosed at all, save by a hedge. Family houses and villas are demarcated by various kinds of fences. They should always be of a natural character, simple, and plain. (1947) Freiwald, Jindřich: Chaty sruby domky - Zásady rekreačního bydlení. Praha: Orbis, červen 1947. pg. 21.

A garden was a necessary part of the villa, while it is not necessary for the weekend house at all. A hut may be situated on a meadow quite nicely, with a small path leading to it; the framework created by nature itself does not need to be improved in an artificial manner. However, when a hut is part of a hut enclave, then, all of a sudden, everybody tries to beautify their garden, making it different from the others. (1947) ibid. pg. 22.

As soon as we obtain a plot for cottage construction, we will have to demarcate it - to fence it off. This is necessary so as to secure the material that we will gradually deliver to the site and store before we start construction... (1970) Janalík, Oldřich: Stavíme chatu - Chata, váš domov, Praha: Merkur, 1970. pg. 24.

It might have been a nice construction, but finally he didn't even fence it off... (2002)

The expert is sure to find a number of inspirations here, and the common reader, if planning to build something, a stable direction and reliable guidance for his eager ambition. (1947) Freiwald, Jindřich: Chaty sruby domky - Zásady rekreačního bydlení. Praha: Orbis, červen 1947. pg. 47.

Materials already exist that represent strong competition for wood, and surpass it in many cases...a wall made of lignitic or cement-asbestos board will last many years without requiring special maintenance. (1963) ibid. pg. 97

As soon as there is a sufficient quantity of laminated cloth available, we will use it particularly for exterior walls because it is a very pliant material, which is easily processed, it is light, transparent and may be produced in all colors and shades. This new translucent substance provides us with further creative possibilities in the construction industry. We may use it for the construction of transparent walls that are more suitable for the brightening of spaces than glass. (1963) ibid. pg. 97.

The utilization of compressed or stitched straw or reeds requires other adaptations than those that were stated in previous instances. First we impregnate the straw boards by means liquid laminate. Then we paint the finished surface with polyamide resin or any other transparent substance. This substance will create a firm transparent surface making it possible to see the material's structure.(1963) ibid. pg. 54.

These days, we may hardly take a broad axe and go into the deep forest to cut down the necessary quantity of pine or larch trees to make our own cottage or equipment.(1975) Mašek, Ladislav: Chatový nábytek. Polytechnická knižnice III. Řady Udělejte si sami. Praha: SNTL, 1975. pg. 9.