The Bata city Zlin

Monday, 16.11.2015

I went to see the fabulous ‘Le Corbusier- Kunst und Architektur’ exhibition at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin. It ran from the 9 July – 5 October 2009.

One section was devoted to the city of Zlin in Morovia, the Czech Republic. This was where Tomas Bata founded his shoe manufacturing plant in 1894. It was not long before the whole city was working for him and after WWI Baťa went about building a whole new city along ‘modernist’ lines. A type utopian vision for a Bata city was realised where every type of institution (hospital, schools, stores, community centre, sports club, dwellings, cinema etc.) was owned by the company; see
http://www.baunetz.de/meldungen/Meldungen-BAUNETZWOCHE

To reflect industrial production, every building in the city centre took ‘the factory building’ as its role model. A square unit measuring 6,15 x 6,15 metres was used as a basis for a living space. This unit was then assembled or collected together to make up a building. This approach shows the influence of Le Corbusier ‘s revolutionary idea of the ‘Unité d’Habitation’ or ‘Living Machine’ consisting of living units that are standardised and could be mass produced. Frantisek Lydie Gahura was a pupil of Le Corbusier and Bata’s urban planner and must have seen his teacher’s ‘Pavilion de l’Esprit’ in Paris in 1925. This pavilion was the forerunner of the later ‘Unité d’Habitation’.

I went to Zlin in the Summer of 2015. It is another hours drive from Brünn. Some buildings such as the Bata headquarters building have since been refurbished. The aforementioned assembled units make for beautiful horizontal and vertical lines that are a pleasure to photograph. Especially the extensive use of glass for the stairwells attached to the side of the buildings make for very elegant structures.

The ‘Memorial Pavilion for Tomas Bata’ that was a type of museum to show the achievements of Bata has since fallen into disrepair. Old photos show a building with reinforced concrete pillars that otherwise is made completely of glass. A very inspiring building that I wish I could have seen when first built.

Damian Brenninkmeyer at the Bata Community Centre (now Hotel Moskva)

Me in front of the Bata Community Centre (now Hotel Moskva), 1931-32 by the architects Vladimír Karfík and Miroslav Lorenc

 

Baťa Community Centre (now Hotel Moskva), 1931-32

Bata Community Centre (now Hotel Moskva), 1931-32 by Vladimir Karfík and Miroslav Lorenc

 

 Headquarters of the Bata Company

Headquarters of the Bata Company (now regional and financial headquarters), 1938 by Vladimír Karfík

 

 OBCHODNI DUM, Bata department store, 1932

OBCHODNI DUM, Baťa department store, 1932 by Frantisek Lydie Gahura

 

DUM UMENI, Memorial Pavilion for Tomas Bata, 1932-33

DUM UMENI, Memorial Pavilion for Tomas Bata, 1932-33 by Frantisek Lydie Gahura

 

DUM UMENI, Memorial Pavilion for Tomas Bata, 1932-33

DUM UMENI, Memorial Pavilion for Tomas Bata, 1932-33 by architect Frantisek Lydie Gahura

 

Stairwell in the Bata Community Centre

Stairwell in the Bata Community Centre