Růžena Žertová

November 4, 1932, Ostrava – October 5, 2019, Brno
architect, artist, designer, jeweller

Růžena Žertová was born in November 1932 in Ostrava as the first child of the geodet Alois Václav Žert and Stanislava Žertová, née Veselá. Two years after Růžena, her brother Petr, later also an architect, was born into the Czech family living in the Silesian town of Frýdek. After graduating from grammar school in 1951, Růžena wanted to transform her relationship to craftsmanship and materials into a study of textile design at the VŠUP in Prague. However, due to the limited opportunities offered by the early 1950s, she could only study architecture at the Czech Technical University in Prague. After only one year, in the politicized atmosphere there, she transferred to the University of Civil Engineering (later the Brno University of Technology), where she studied mainly in the studio led by Bedřich Rozehnal. Here she formed an idea of architecture as a practical discipline, the result of demographic and geological analysis of a place, functional requirements and aesthetic composition.

After graduating in 1957 Žertová refused to join the Ostrava Stavoprojekt, and remained unemployed for several months. In the autumn, when she finally abandoned the idea of studying scenography at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, she was hired by the Brno-based Potravinoprojekt. When the company split up in 1960, she moved to the State Project Institute of Trade Brno (SPÚO), where she also met her future husband, architect Igor Svoboda. Both of them led their architectural group within the studio of Jaroslav Hlavsa. The collegial relationship soon developed into a personal one, which turned into a marriage after fifteen years of cohabitation. At SPÚO Žertová created her most important works in the 1960s and 1970s  the designs of the Prior department stores in Košice, Pardubice and Ostrava and the Labe department store in Ústí nad Labem, as well as the unrealised study of Prior in Jihlava. In the designs of these buildings she managed to combine her unique artistic intuition and feel for materials with respect for construction and rational operational solutions.

In 1966, Žertová and Svoboda travelled to Liverpool to visit Ernst Wiesner and provide him materials for an exhibition dedicated to Bedřich Rozehnal. A year later, the pair collaborated for the first time on a larger project. Růžena designed the interior of the Tatra Park Hotel in Nový Smokovec, which was designed by Igor. However, they continued to work independently and their cooperation as complementary individuals was rarely repeated.

In the first half of the seventies, Žertová began to work in the SPÚO, designing clothing accessories and later jewellery and lighting fixtures. In 1978, two years after their marriage, Žertová and Svoboda decided to build a house in Brno-Žabovřesky. The decision of the authorities deprived her of her attic apartment, which she had built with her own forces. The ground-floor atrium building, influenced by Nordic architecture, remains an example of exceptionally high-quality housing to this day. The architect herself led the construction of between 1979 and 1982.

After leaving the SPÚO in 1983, she worked as an artist and designer registered with the Czech Fine Arts Fund until 1989. She designed several interiors and collaborated with her brother, who used her aluminium light fittings in his buildings. It was the design and realization of original lighting fixtures that became her main occupation and source of income. She also created titanium jewellery.

After the Velvet Revolution, Růžena Žertová returned to architecture and by 2007, when she experienced health problems, she had created over thirty designs for residential buildings, ensembles and urban studies. Among her other projects from the post-Soviet period, the reconstruction of the Brno branch of the Bayerische Vereinsbank stands out. In spite of considerable complications, Růžena Žertová devoted her last years to selfless work on a study of a community housing complex in Brno-Kohoutovice. In 2018, she received the Award of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic for long-term artistic merit in architecture. A year later, she succumbed to a serious illness in Brno.


Petr Klíma (ed.), Růžena Žertová. Architektka domů i věcí, Praha 2016.

Petr Klíma, Růžena Žertová (1932–2019), ERA 21 XIX, 2019, č. 6, s. 9–10.

List of works

Architectural studies and designs 

1958–1960, 1966 a 1970–1975 – attic apartment refurbishment, Brno

1960–1968 – Prior Košice department store, Slovakia

1965 – Czechoslovak pavilion for the World EXPO '67, Montreal, Canada; unrealized study 

1965–1972 – Dodo Jednota LSD Michalovce department store, Slovakia

1965–1974 – Labe department store, Ústí nad Labem

1966–1968 – interior of the café in Hotel Slavia, Svitavy

2nd half of the 1960s – hotel Čingov, Smižany, Slovakia; unrealised study

1967 – recreation centre Slňava, Slovakia; unrealised study

1967–1970 – interiors of Hotel Park Nový Smokovec, Slovakia

1967–1968 – Prior Jihlava department store; unrealised project

1968–1969 – Znojmo department store; unrealised study

1969 – adaptation of the Unitex shop, Brno; unrealised study

1969–1970 – Prior department store, Prague - Tylovo náměstí; unrealised study

1970–1974 – Prior department store Pardubice

1970–1971 – Prior department store Hodonín; unrealised study

1971 – Prior/Máj department store, Prague; unrealised study

1971 – universal office building, Prague-Bohnice; unrealised study

1st half of the 1970s – reconstruction of the Chopok-North cable car, Slovakia

1974 – design of the area of the WIG horticultural show, Vienna, Austria; unrealised study

1975–1976 – interior of the clubhouse in Frýdek Castle, Frýdek-Místek

1975–1984 – Prior department store Ostrava

1978 – interior of the offices of the Brno II Housing Enterprise, Brno

1979–1982 – own family house, Brno-Zabovřesky 

1983–1989 – set of terraced houses, Francova Lhota, with Igor Svoboda and Petr Žert

1984–1986 – interiors of the cooperative house JRD Vlára Nemšová, Slovakia

1986–1987 – interior of the buffet and bar of the restaurant Beránek, Břeclav

1988–1991 – reconstruction and extension of the family house of Mr. and Mrs. Knížák, Brno-Medlánky

1990 – reconstruction of the König family house, Kyjov; unrealised study

1991–1992 – interior of the Railway Polyclinic, Brno; unrealised project

1991–1992 – reconstruction and extension of the Rubín multifunctional centre, Brno-Zabovřesky; unrealised study

1991–1992 – modification of Burian Square, Brno-Zabovřesky; unrealised study

1993 – adaptation of a cider house into a small department store, Nový Bydžov; unrealised study

1993–1994 – reconstruction of a branch of Bayerische Vereinsbank, Brno

1995 – reconstruction of the farmhouse of the Viktorov family, Řepiště; unrealised project

1995–1998 – family semi-detached house, Brno-Komín

1996 – Young House – minimal family house for young families; unrealised study

1996 – set of terrace houses, Brno - Nový Lískovec; unrealised study

1996–1997 – reconstruction of the family house of Marie Cveková, Malenovice

1996–1997 – family house of Sonia Stankova, Hradec Králové

1996–1998 – reconstruction of Jiří Dostál's house, Hradec Králové

2nd half of the 1990s – urban study of the development of family houses, Bílovice-Polanka; not implemented

2nd half of the 1990s – adaptation of a family house with a surgery, Brno-Zabovřesky; unrealised study

1997 – family house of Igor Svoboda Jr., Erlenbach, Germany

1997 – urban planning study of a development of family houses, Buchlovice; not realized

1997–1998 – family house of Jiří Skořepa, Kostelec u Křížků

1997–1998 – interior of the hunting castle Antonstál, with Petr Žert, Slovakia

1997–1998 – urban planning study of a development of family houses, Piešt'any-Heinola, Slovakia; not realized

1998–1999 – interior of the hunting castle Palárikovo, with Petr Žert, Slovakia

1999 – adaptation of the Indosta company building, Hradec Králové

1999 – adaptation of the headquarters of a travel agency, Brno; apparently unrealised study

1999 – apartment of the Motl family, Prague; apparently unrealised study

1999 – offices of Global Hellenika, Brno; apparently unrealised study

1999 – rental house with starter flats for young families, Záchlumí; unrealised study

2000 – reconstruction of a family house, Hradec Králové; unrealised project

2000 – holiday home of the Machacek family, Ostřetín; probably unrealised study

c. 2000 – kindergarten, Břežany; unrealised study

2000–2001 – urban planning study of a development of family houses, Břežany; not realized

2001 – reconstruction of the Sudek family house, Starovičky; unrealised project

2002 – urban planning study of the Brno districts of Komín, Ivanovice, Kníničky; not implemented

2003 – Reconstruction of a multi-purpose hall, Břežany; unrealised study

2003 – family house of the Chudy couple, Sokolnice

2003 – family house of the Marušek family, Brno-Zidenice; apparently unrealised study

2005–2010 – family house of Mr. and Mrs. Suchánek, Český Těšín  Koňákov

2006–2010 – family house of Mr. and Mrs. Svoboda, Havířov  Dolní Datyně 

2007 – family house of Marek Pavlíček and Alice Křivánková, Želešice; unrealised study

2007 – urban study of the development of family houses, Zelesice; not realized

2015–2019 – Residential complex Nad Pisárkami, Brno; unrealised study

Lighting fixtures

1972–1990 – lighting fixtures for the Dílo shop

1975 – luminaires for Hotel Patria, Strbské Pleso, Slovakia

1975 – luminaires for the computer centre of Česká spořitelna, Brno

1975–1989 – lighting fixtures for the JZD Francova Lhota cooperative house

1982 – luminaires for LPT Jeseník 

1982–1983 – lighting fixtures for a holiday cottage in Dětřichov

1986 – lighting fixtures for the Centrum Hotel, Frýdek-Místek

1988 – lighting fixtures for the Meat Processing Plant in Olomouc

1988–1989 – lighting fixtures for Alfa tobacco shop and bistro, Brno

Arts and crafts realizations

1972–1975 – clothing accessories

1972–1990 – jewellery for gallery shops Dílo

c. 1975 – enamel jewellery

1980s – 2007 – titanium jewellery


1957, Brno University of Technology, Ing. arch.


1957–1957, Stavoprojekt Ostrava (architectural designer)

1957–1960, Potravinoprojekt Brno (architectural designer)

1960–1983, Státní projektový ústav obchodu Brno (SPÚO) (architectural designer)

1983–1989, Czech Arts Fund (artist)

1990–2019, own architectural office (architect)

Personal ties
Igor Svoboda – husband
Petr Žert – brother
Professional ties
Bedřich Rozehnal – educator
Anděla Drašnarová – fellow student
Zdenka Freudová – fellow student
Zdeněk Řihák – head of a design studio
Jana Bartošová-Vilhanová, umělkyně – colleague
Jaroslav Hlavsa – head of a design studio
2009, Zlatá medaile VUT [Gold medal of VUT]
2013, Cena města Brna [City of Brno Award]
2018, Cena ministerstva kultury za dlouholeté umělecké zásluhy v architektuře [Award of the Ministry of Culture for long-term artistic contribution in the field of architecture]

Nábělek Stanislav, Obchodní dům v Pardubicích, Architektura ČSR, 1976, roč. 35, č. 4, s. 156–158.

Haimann Petr, Park Hotel Nový Smokovec, Architektura ČSR, 1971, roč. 30, č. 6, s. 263–265.

Haas Felix, Architektura 20. století, Praha, 1980.

Ševčík Oldřich – Beneš Ondřej, Architektura 60. let: Zlatá šedesátá léta v české architektuře 20. století, Praha, 2009.

Švácha Rostislav, Dějiny českého výtvarného umění VI, 1958–2000, Praha, 2007.

Klíma Petr, Růžena Žertová: architektka domů i věcí, Praha, 2016.

Author of the record: PK, HHD