Architecture of concrete, brick, metal and glass
A unique example of consistent standardization, unification and type.
The building as a part of a comprehensive town-planning scheme.
Architecture as a trademark - Architecture as a machine.
Architecture as the outcome of an architect-builder partnership.
Zlín was one of Czechoslovakia's most prominent centers of architecture between the two World Wars and the only European city systematically built in the functionalist style. Even before the Athens Charter was drawn up and declared in 1934, Zlín could already boast a highly distinctive and original approach to town-building. As an urban and architectonic complex, Bata's Zlín was a phenomenon unmatched in Europe and, over the years, continued to be a unique and telling testimony to the company's building activities, both in the interwar period and for a short time thereafter as well. With incredible speed, Zlín expanded from a predominantly shoe-manufacturing town to an agglomeration with diversified industries that reflected the latest research and know-how, a city with an extensive infrastructure and an array of public services. Zlín was designed during the interwar period as a garden city with strictly functional zoning, and its development was strongly connected to the Bata Company's centrally-located production facilities.
To this day, Zlín's architecture is deeply and indelibly imprinted with a specific corporate design. The nature of the built-up areas was organically derived from industrial construction, from the architecture of factory buildings. This is why it is possible to speak of the city's industrial aesthetic and the way its urban life is based upon an industrial model. Thus it was that Zlín acquired its characteristic appearance not only through a standardized town-planning concept, but also due to a new way of living. These specific aspects were subsequently reflected in the company's building activities outside Zlín, namely in its construction of department stores that sprung up throughout Czechoslovakia and abroad, and especially in the building of Bata settlements around the world. The Bata factories and housing in the satellite towns were self-sustained industrial and residential areas that exemplified the development of a perfectly-devised system of unification and standardization, whose style bore the hallmarks of the Zlín center.
Zlín's architecture is not only a unique phenomenon by Czech standards. It is based on one of the most extensive and best-conceived practical applications of consummate standardization and typification, utmost economy in building and maximum simplification and reduction in the number of construction elements employed in all types of buildings. Irrespective of whether it was a factory, a school, a hotel or a student dormitory, all edifices had brickwork, windows in metal frames and a standardized 6.15 x 6.15-meter ferro-concrete skeleton structure. The outcome was a highly impressive form of modern architecture, architecture that was speedy, economical, rational, exquisitely functional and decoration-free, a type of architecture suggestive of a faultlessly-operating machine and functioning as an inimitable (and unimitated) corporate trademark.
Zlín's architecture is presented in the exhibition through original architectural plans and drawings executed by architects such as F. L. Gahura, V. Karfík, M. Lorenc, J. Voženílek and M. Drofa. Models of Zlín's prominent buildings are also on view (e.g. the Administration Building, Monument to Tomas Bata, production facilities, hospital premises, several types of family homes, the Collective House, and the villas of J. Hanzelka and M. Zikmund). Examples of the Bata Company's output are also shown; apart from a representative collection of Bata footwear and related advertisements, a bicycle and automobile tires are exhibited as well.
The items on display have been kindly loaned by The Moravian Provincial Archives, The Brno Municipal Museum, The Prague Castle Administration, The National Technical Museum, The Museum of South-eastern Moravia in Zlín and Samohýl Motor Zlín.
A comprehensive catalogue accompanying the exhibition is also available.