Prague 1932 Exhibition – BABA housing estate
September 7th– November 1st 1932 (1933-1934 – 2nd phase of construction)

Architects from Czechoslovakia who participated in the BABA development included: Josef Fuchs, František Kerhart, Vojtěch Kerhart, Ladislav Žák, Oldřich Starý, Evžen Linhart, Antonin Heythum, Jaroslav and Karel Fišer, Pavel Janák, František Kavalir, Hana Kučerova-Záveská, František Zelenka, Zdeněk Blažek, Jan E. Koula, Josef Gočár, Ladislav Machoń (183), and Mart Stam of Holland. The planning conception was developed by Pavel Janák. The development consisted exclusively of detached houses.
The Prague exhibition came from the initiative of the Czechoslovakian Werkbund (Svaz československého dila) with a decision to build a model housing estate in Prague made in 1928, inspired by the Werkbund’s Stuttgart and Brno projects. In contrast to the Werkbund model developments in Stuttgart, Vienna, and Wrocław, the BABA exhibition was financed by private investors – the future homeowners. This brought the prospective resident’s personal tastes and preferences into play – the private investors selected architects with connections to the Czechoslovakian Werkbund.
The designated lot was a gentle (20%) slope, with southern exposure, situated 100 metres above the historic Town Square. The streets were laid out parallel to the slope (aligned to the east-west): the resulting elongated parcels were built-up with low houses in an alternating arrangement which ensured an attractive, unobstructed view of the city.

The exhibition’s stated objective was to improve the quality of life of working people. New structural solutions, building technologies and floor plans were all to contribute to the functional and healthy living space. In order to implement and test the new ideas, the detached house was selected as a sufficiently small and manageable housing unit.
In the end, 33 buildings were completed throughout 1933 but only 20, at various stages of construction, were opened to the flocking public during the exhibition in the summer of 1932. Most were presented as empty shells in order to showcase the new building technologies. Although the houses’ expansive, open plans would have called for frame construction and lightweight building materials, the investors preferred a more traditional approach and as a result the concrete frame construction was combined with massive brick walls.
The BABA development comprised of houses of different size: small (e.g. No. 17 by Jan E. Koula), medium (No. 15 by František Zelenka), and large villas containing one or two flats (e.g. No. 10 by Pavel Janák), and houses with a studio (e.g. No. 8 by Oldřich Stary or No. 28 by František Kavalir).
The significance of the BABA development consisted in presenting the aesthetic, economic, hygienic, and structural values of Neues Bauen. Leftist architects scorned the BABA development as bourgeois architecture. Because of the investors’ direct influence on the architects, the idea of model development could not have been fully adhered to and few progressive solutions were implemented.