The beauty of so many of the buildings which contributed to Brno's admitable cityscape in the late 1920s and 1930s is that they serve the same function for which they were created. Mojmír Kyselka's Masaryk Primary School for Girls and Boys, pictured above, is still very much in use, with less security around the perimeters than we tend to get in the UK (though I resisted the temptation to wander in and take a closer look). This is the entrance for boys, says the sign - girls were to come from the other side - but segregation no longer pertains, of course.
Most of the glories are situated in the north and northwestern suburbs of the city, somewhere I'd gladly live for six months to a year to learn Czech (pipe dream), though I did catch one central spectacular, the first big emporium of Zlin shoe king Tomáš Baťa designed by Vladimir Karfík in 1930.
The Tourist Information Centre has produced a series of free booklets, for which one would pay good money, including the one pictured below which helped me plan an itinerary. Clearly the City Spa in Zábrdovice is for a summer visit.
And boy, was it cold, if brilliantly clear. No sooner had I made my way uphill to Jan Víšek's 1927-8 vision for the Czechoslovak Hussite Church - closed despite the notice on the door -
than I felt the need to get indoors and warm, sharpish. It was too early for a coffee break so I found shelter inside the Stadion Sokol and Community Centre.
A summer stadium was built in 1922 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Sokol gymnastics movement, to which President Masaryk was an enthusiastic adherent if Jiří Heřman's ingenious staging of Smetana's Libuše was anything to go by (production shot by Marek Olbrzymek).
Then in 1928 Miloš Laml took over an original design with gyms on one side and a lower hall. The gym is still very much in use - a landing space in front of it had an exhibition of photos of old Sokol adherents -
while the hall on the other side, reached down a long flight of stairs and a generous foyer area,
was being decorated for whatever 'Babylon' might be.
The young people putting up the balloons looked at me warily but communication was limited and I ploughed on inside for a quick peak. This, if I understand it aright, was where the first performance of Janáček's Glagolitic Mass took place in December 1927.
Further along, I nosed my way into a building which contained a theatre space on the first floor (Brno seems full of theatres). A nice girl setting up the bar for a matinee performance showed me inside the studio and served me coffee with delicious poppy-seed cake, which I consumed while enjoying the warmth of the sun as filtered through the big windows.
The only shame about this was that it knocked on the head my plan to have coffee in one of the many trendy cafes that have sprung up in Brno since I was last there, Punkt, in an attractive tree-lined street of shops. I did go in to the antique shop on the corner with the main road and was somewhat horrified to see this reminder of what happened to Brno after its brief period of independent revitalization.
A potent reminder of what sent so many Jewish Czechs into exile if they could get out, including the family of my student Robin Weiss, who was there in Brno with his wife Margaret on a cultural visit. His granfather was taught by Mendel from the Augustinian Monastery; his half-sister grew up in the Villa Tugendhat, THE so-called functionalist building to see in Brno, but I went there before its revamp with Austrian friends Tommi and Martha on our 2007 whistlestop tour.
Opposite the antique shop is a row of apartment buildings with stylish curved balconies from the late 1930s. This area was previously one of factory complexes, including the former Moravia Brewery.
To the east is Lužánky Park, one of the first public parks in Europe and favourite haunt of Janáček, whose later years were spent in a modest home behind the nearby Organ School (visited on our first trip). The other side of that rises the hill of Černá Pole, with a touching celebration of the great composer outside a Seniors' Club housed in a 1913 building.
This road curves round, with plenty of fine 1920s buildings in which I'd happily lodge.
At the top of the hill is the street with my two favourite functionalist buildings along it. First you hit the earlier neoclassicism of the Masaryk University.
At the end is the primary school
and in the middle the ERA Cafe.
Josef Kranz designed it as part of a residential building, influenced by the Dutch movement De Stijl with its reduction to essentials. The exterior minimalism
is offset within by the 'dynamic spiral staircase', blue on the curves against the red xylolite of floor and steps.
The building has undergone various changes, including Soviet incorporation into the neighbouring agricultural college, but in 2011 was restored to its old glory and now serves excellent food.
This would be an early port of call on any return visit to the city. Anyway, refreshed, I needed to get back into the centre of town
so I took a nearby tram, missing out on several buildings I'll have to see on the next visit, and heading for the Augustinian monastery, which I'll cover in a future entry together with the Jesuitical glories of the old town.