Miroslav Drofa

Date of birth 25. 10. 1908 Všehrdy-Plzeň
Date of death 1. 5. 1984 Zlín
Miroslav Drofa was born on October 25, 1908 in Všehrdy near Pilsen, where he later received a technical education at the State Industrial School of Civil Engineering. Most of his professional career was connected with Zlín, where in 1928 he was brought to work as an assistant, draftsman, and later also as an independent designer in the Construction Department of the Baťa company. Thanks to his diligence, technical precision, versatility, and contact with other capable colleagues, he developed very quickly (even though he did not have formal architectural training) and became one of the most active architects, preparing dozens of designs for standardised workers' housing, public buildings, service houses, and master-plans of subsidiary factory housing estates outside Zlín. He was always able to adapt very creatively to the company's aesthetics and the uniform stylistic and construction rules of Baťa's construction.
During the 1930s, when the need for more individualised company houses began to grow, Drofa designed several new types, which then bore his name (Drofa I, II, III). During the war, together with Jiří Voženílek, Hynek Adamec, and Bohumír Kula, he experimented with the technology of prefabricated family houses. In 1946, he created a modernised, spatially and in terms of layout more comfortable version of the previously used fourplexes for the emerging residential district of Podvesná. During his time with Baťa, Drofa was also strongly interested in the planning of industrial units built by the shoe company in Czechoslovakia and abroad, which were to expand markets and at the same time relieve Zlín whose capacity and spatial possibilities were overloaded. He focused on their urban structure closely reflecting the intentions of the production company (Borovo, Chelmek, Möhlin, Batanagar), as well as individual urban buildings of various functions (social house, theatre and school in Zruč, schools in Partizánske, in Svit, residential house with shops in Otrokovice).
Shortly after the end of World War II, Miroslav Drofa was already one of the most experienced corporate architects. Despite the changed political situation and the new organisation of the current national enterprise, he gained a fundamental position in the post-war reconstruction of Zlín. According to the new general master-plan of the city, developed under the leadership of architect Jiří Voženílek in the years 1947–1948, the eastern part of Zlín was reserved for the new key residential zone. In contrast to earlier proposals for family housing, preferred by the company in the interwar period, Drofa developed a typology of multi-storey houses, which were to quickly fill in the missing accommodation capacity, save space and cost and increase the current standard of housing. Drofa as the architect of the two eight-storey Morýs apartment houses and five tower houses (1947) cleverly combined earlier Baťa expressive elements in the form of face brick masonry and reinforced concrete columns with current inspiration from contemporary Scandinavian residential construction. Both designs represent an exceptionally high-quality example of the post-war two-year plan architecture on the national scale.
With the growing influence of anti-Baťa ideology and the political coup in 1948, Drofa gradually moved from rational Baťa constructivism to moderate forms of officially enforced socialist realism, or combinations thereof. In 1954, together with Karel Kárník, he prepared a project for the District Health Centre (today's polyclinic), and in 1951–1958 he proposed the Dřevnická Primary School belonging to the newly built neighbourhood of Bartošova čtvrť. Despite contemporary political pressures on the organisation of architecture or its stylistic orientation, Drofa's post-war work universally retains its strong qualities - thoughtfulness, care for technical, structural and material details, sobriety and purity of form. From 1948 the architect worked in the design department of Stavosvit, and four years later he joined the local design organisation Centroprojekt. He returned to experiments with elements of collective housing in 1959–1963 with the ten-storey house called “Drofa” on the edge of the former workers' residential zone Zálešná. Thanks to his many years of experience with industrial production facilities, he often focused on factory premises commissions during the 1950s and 1970s (Jablonex in Jablonec nad Nisou between 1959–1962, the ceramic plant in Bechyně 1958–1962, the hosiery factory in Vranov nad Toplou 1970–1975).
Miroslav Drofa died on May 1, 1984, in Zlín, where he spent almost his entire adult life, and is buried in the local Forest Cemetery.