Department Stores (Fruit & Vegetable House, House of Footwear, Grocery House)

Date 1978–1980
Architect Šebestián Zelina
Code Z10
Address Dlouhá, Zlín
Public transport Public transport: Dlouhá (TROL 2, 4, 5, 8; BUS 33, 35, 36)
GPS 49.2285650N, 17.6695106E

In the mid-1970s, officials addressed the lack of business infrastructure in Gottwaldov's city centre. The existing stores on náměstí Míru and náměstí Práce no longer had sufficient capacity, and the idea of what modern shops and shopping should look like also changed. In 1978, the Research Institute of Commerce in Prague developed a concept for the development of a retail network, which resulted in (among other things) the construction of three department stores, which complemented the reconstruction of selected buildings in the centre. The Gottwaldov National Committee was the main investor and supplier, while the operator was JZD Slušovice (Slušovice Agriculture Cooperative).
This "socialist miracle" led by František Čuba had a turnover of CZK 5 billion in 1976. In addition to growing grain and animal production, the company also engaged in biotechnology, food production, and later computers. Its activities were also accompanied by considerable construction activity, which resulted in new residential, sports, and administrative buildings and department stores throughout the region. The author of most of the important buildings associated with the operation of the Slušovice cooperative was the architect Šebestián Zelina. The three department stores on Dlouhá Street remain an example of Zelina's cooperation with Slušovice in which he used his knowledge of foreign - especially Swiss - architecture. The first of the three buildings was the House of Fruit and Vegetables, created between 1978 and 1980. In 1979, the House of Footwear was built in its immediate vicinity. A year later, the Grocery House begins to emerge. All three buildings, designed and implemented in close succession, have similar features, so we focus only on the first of them. The four-storey building of the House of Fruit and Vegetables with an acknowledged skeletal system from the universal prefabricated system UMS 72 faces Dlouhá (formerly Murzínova) street with its west façade. The most architecturally-significant element is the all-glass façade using special mirrored golden-brown float glass called spektrofloat. The façade no longer fulfils the function of a load-bearing structure; it has been replaced by glass, which is used in the entire area without dividing profiles.
The façade is complemented by a strip of ceramic mosaic over the entire height of the building measuring 400 × 1460 cm. As part of the concept called "art percentage," every newly-constructed public building was to include artistic decoration. The author of the mosaic was the painter and graphic artist Josef Liesler, with whom Zelina had already collaborated on the decoration of the Jižní Svahy housing estate. The mosaic called Gifts of the Earth and the Sun refers to the contents of the building. The first floor of the west side recedes, creating a covered passage with generous shop windows. The east façade uses a combination of glazed tiles and plaster.
The house layout follows the traditional organisation with central corridor flanked by shops. The main entrance is located on Dlouhá street. Across the lee, you would enter the hall, from which one entered directly into the vegetable shop, which also served as a supermarket. In the hall there is a U-shaped staircase connecting individual floors; there were also two passenger elevators. There was a fruit shop on the second floor and a shop for fruit and vegetable products on the third. The fourth floor served as a warehouse and flower shop, and there was also a cafe with a bar and lounge. The sales premises reached unusually generous dimensions for Gottwaldov, approximately 24 × 9 metres. The architect consulted with the future operator of the Slušovice cooperative for the interior design. Each floor was different in colour and the floors had soft carpeting. The business premises had modern shelves, cash registers, and lighting, and colourful ceilings. There was also a water feature in the area where it was possible to wash the purchased fruit. In the other two department stores Šebestián Zelina also used prefabricated construction, glass facades, exposed concrete, and tiling. Otto Janeček's ceramic mosaic on the facade of the House of Footwear is worth a special mention.
The three buildings on the border of Dlouhá and Kvítková streets became a significant feature of the city centre when entered from the east. As these three buildings belonged at the time to the most modern department stores, they served as a showcase of the success of the Gottwaldow region, heralded by the Slušovice cooperative. In 1986, a ground-floor information centre was added to the buildings with advance ticket sales for events organized by the Slušovice cooperative. The forms of the Zlín department stores significantly inspired Brno, where an almost-exact replica of the Gottwaldov House of Fruits and Vegetables was created on Kounicova Street. After 1989, the buildings changed owners and use several times. Therefore, most of the period elements in the interior have not been preserved. Today, the Bank has its headquarters in the House of Fruits and Vegetables, and the Baťa store and its office facilities are located in the House of Footwear. The House of Food, which underwent the most extensive changes, serves global wholesale, and thus at least partially refers to its former function. The three buildings were exceptional, in particular the solution of their façades, which were transparent. The original copper-tinted float glass is no longer on any of the buildings today. Each of the new owners treated the façade in a different, more or less sensitive way. Despite these interventions, the department stores remain important buildings that represent informed architecture of the 1970s, as well as the personality of Šebestián Zelina, an architect who changed the appearance of the city.