The Zikmund Villa

Date –1935 / –1953 (P) 1954 (R)
Architect Zdeněk Plesník
Code Z7
Address Žlebová 2894, Zlín
Public transport Public transport: Padělky I (TROL 4, 5)
GPS 49.2342400N, 17.6769172E
Monument preservation The Zikmund Villa is a monument listed under the number ÚSKP 50697/7-8928
  • Petr Všetečka, 3 vily architekta Zdeňka Plesníka – katalog výstavy Galerie J. Fragnera Praha, Brno, Zlín, 2001

According to Zikmund's memoir, one of the reasons the travellers Miroslav Zikmund and Jiří Hanzelka decided to move to Zlín was their exposure to the city on a ski ride from the Moskva Hotel to Kudlov to the film studios, where they were preparing a new documentary. If they had taken the route from Vinohrady to Barrandov in Prague, such a ride would have been impossible. Coincidentally, in 1953, the director Elmar Klos decided to sell a functionalist villa built in 1935.
The house, in the newly emerging district of Nivy, on a gentle slope with a large garden, was built by Baťa's support fund for Josef Januštík, Klos's stepfather and the first governor of the Zlín district. The project of a two-storey villa with a flat roof was developed in the Construction Department of the Baťa company, but the author is not mentioned in the plans. Unlike most of the company's family houses, Januštík's villa had a light coloured texture façade called “brizolit”, and the long strip window on the south-western façade was also unusual. The simple structure of the cube is extended by a corner bay window, in the middle of which a typical round reinforced concrete "Baťa" column was placed. In the mid-1930s, this element can be understood as representing the interconnection of Januštík with the environment, which he managed as governor and which most represented the activities of the Baťa company. A single-arm staircase divided the ground floor into an operating section (kitchen, hall, maid's room) and a common area (dining room with a common room). Upstairs were two bedrooms, a guest room, and a bathroom. From the hall you entered the corner terrace where a distinctive glass brick window illuminated the interior.
Elmar Klos sold the villa to Miroslav Zikmund on March 26, 1953, and in the same year the Zlín architect Zdeněk Plesník, an employee of Centroprojekt, worked on a project to adapt the house. He would use a similar concept in the following houses built for Zikmund's colleague Jiří Hanzelka and the composer Zdeněk Liška. The exterior of the villa combines diverse materials; a stone plinth in the basement contrasts with a precast concrete railing on the adjoining terrace. In Zlín, we can observe this element in a number of other post-war buildings in the eastern part of the city (eg Morýs Houses, Collective House, Tower Houses). The perforated precast elements run uninterrupted under the window openings of the bay window and give the façade a more subtle, almost decorative appearance. The plasticity of the light coloured texture façade is supported by the subtle concrete lining around the window openings.
Zdeněk Plesník had a terrace built on the west side of the house, which develops the motif of a former open bay window. A kitchen was added on the north side, and a photographic studio and ironing room were incorporated into the original structure. By expanding the layout, the interior spaces are connected with the garden; the niche of the dining room is directly connected to the terrace projecting onto the outside terrain. The individual rooms were adapted so that the villa would meet the requirements of Miroslav Zikmund. For example, a photo laboratory was created from the maid's room. The internal staircase is made more prominent in the interior by projecting the first few steps into the living room. Also the layout of the rooms on the first floor underwent a transformation. The two bedrooms were divided into three rooms. The original guest room became Zikmund's study, which was extended with part of the space of the former hall, now reduced to a narrow corridor leading to the bathroom and gym. The staircase was newly-illuminated through the vertical fixed glazing. All these interventions were most apparent on the western façade and gave the house new proportions. The contact of the building with the surrounding greenery is aided, among other things, by vegetation growing on all facades. According to Miroslav Zikmund's demands, the garden was to become a forest park, which he then carefully adjusted and supplemented while recording all the changes concerning the planting of new trees and shrubs or the changes of the terrain in special plans.
The interior design reflects the personality of Miroslav Zikmund, his work needs and his passion for combining his daily work with his own collections and archives. Selected items from his collection could be displayed inside the common room thanks to the perforated wall cladding with pins that could be placed in a variety of places. The equipment of the house is still preserved in an almost intact form and represents a unique example of furniture design of the 1950s. In addition to Zdeněk Plesník and Miroslav Zikmund, the designer Miroslav Navrátil (1913–1999), who used his experience in the production of boats or sledges from bent wood, took part in the design of the interior equipment. The interior was to be airy and bright and the pieces of furniture light, making them easy to move, and comfortable. Due to the scarcity of metal in post-war Czechoslovakia, designers and manufacturers sought new technologies and methods to join furniture pieces during the 1950s. One of Miroslav Zikmund's requirements was, for example, a variable library system to create a shelf for any book format, without any glass. The response to this was the so-called “serrated shelves”, which were used in all cabinets and book cases in the house. It is a system of corrugated layered birch veneers, into which shelves can be inserted at 12 mm intervals. The main material used for tiles and furniture is a light-coloured ash wood, sometimes stained in a tobacco shade. The seating is made of glued wooden slats, the inner frame consisting of intertwined straps, while the seat cushions could be used individually or in a group to create a footstool, sofa, or double bed. Thanks to the cooperation with Fatra Napajedla, semi-transparent plastic foils were used in the interior, which serve as fillings for built-in cabinets. One of the most distinctive elements dominating the bay window is a lamp with a rotating arm with a length of two metres that could be turned 180 degrees. 
In 2020, Miroslav Zikmund offered the villa and the land for sale to his friend, the Zlín businessman Čestmír Vančura, who accepted the offer. The Zikmund Villa Endowment Fund was established in the  villa, which takes care of the building. In addition to the necessary restoration of the house and the renovation of the garden, one of the activities of the endowment fund will be to raise the profile of personalities associated with the villa and their publishing activities. After the restoration, the villa will be accessible to the public.