Department Store

Date 1935–1936
Architect Vladimír Karfík
Trail Otrokovice
Code Z12
Address Tylova 725, Otrokovice
Public transport Public transport: Otrokovice, Společenský dům (TROL 2; BUS 55, 70) Otrokovice, Moravní (BUS 55)
GPS 49.2143811N, 17.5154353E

According to the strategy of the Baťa company, the newly built factory colony in Otrokovice was supposed to represent a fully-fledged city headquarters. In addition to working facilities, it was intended to provide its residents with proper accommodation, education, and leisure and social activities. According to the masterplan of the architect František Lýdie Gahura (1891–1958), the main centre of public events was concentrated in the close vicinity of the industrial complex. In the years 1935–⁠1938, two buildings were erected on the southern edge of the vast park area, which was closed on all sides by roads, and immediately after opening, they became the heart of the commercial activities of this part of the town, now known as Baťov. In 1935 a department store was built to the design of Vladimír Karfík. It opened in April 1936. 
Unlike a number of corporate department stores in larger cities, which took the form of high-rise, richly glazed, neon-lit buildings (Karfík's design in Liberec from 1931 and Kolín in 1930, Gahura's Zlín department store from 1930-1931), the one in Baťov based its volumetric and structural solution on the typology of the production hall with sophisticated details. The three-storey building, supported by a reinforced concrete structure with round columns visible on the façade, is set in massive concrete foundation wells with a diameter of 1-3.2 metres. These respond to the complicated terrain, which until a few years before the completion of the department store was more like a marshy wetland than a suitable building site.
The main sales area of the department store is generously lit through large scale display windows, which, together with a strip of advertising signs with a uniform graphic solution, completely fill the individual fields of the standardised construction module (6.15 x 6.15 m). The ground floor is visually separated from the other floors by a projecting concrete cornice that surrounds the building on three sides and bends elegantly around the corners. Vladimír Karfík also used a similarly shaped cornice at the Díly Social House in Zlín from 1937. The next two floors are characterised by face brick masonry between loadbearing columns and large rectangular windows in subtle steel frames. On the top floor, reserved in the project for storage spaces, the windows were slightly smaller than on the first floor. The windows also served as an area for advertising communication with passers-by. Shortly after the opening, the sign "Jakost a láce" (quality and affordability) reigned over them. A neon sign with the inscription "Obchodní dům" was installed on the roof. To the floor plan of the department store a stair extension with the length of three structural fields was added in the middle of the southern façade with lift and toilets. In the basement there were according to the architect's plans 28 garage spaces. The main entrance to the building towards the park square consisted of a pair of double-wing glass doors. The second entrance then faced the factory in the east, and another one from the back of the house adjoined the staircase. 
The department store was supposed to ensure the provision of all basic needs for the residents of the new town and thereby contribute to their greater comfort and independence from the old town. The ground floor was organised according to modern patterns, similar to other company stores, as a continuous open area divided by massive columns. A variety of sales kiosks were available to shoppers, which included delicatessen, fruit, vegetable, meat section, a selection of textiles, hats, pharmaceutical goods, perfumery, housewares and a buffet. The first floor was designated in the project for a dining room and a kitchen for factory workers. However, it only operated for a short time and after a few weeks in May 1936 it was turned into another sales facility for textiles. The top floor was dedicated to household equipment, furnishings and furniture.
In 1938, a building with shops and apartments was attached to the department store, which was also designed by the architect Karfík. Both buildings created a well-thought-out organic whole, both in terms of the design quality and, as well as in the range of available services. Until now, the building of the department store has been preserved in a compact state with a whole range of original elements, including a round cornice and neon. However, like a large part of other public buildings in the former core of Baťov, it suffers from the clashing advertising signs creating significant visual smog and covering large areas of the façades. Its possible renovation has been discussed for several years. In 2017, a project to restore a department store and transform its upper floors into an Alzheimer centre was created by Olomouc based ateliér-r, which in 2012 also renovated the local PRIOR from the 1970s by architect Jan Melichar. In autumn 2022, the replacement of non-original aluminium windows started, with several new window openings coming closer to the original ones from the 1930s. 
To this day, the department store perfectly exemplifies the strategy of the Baťa company to equip its company towns with representative stores, which helped it to shape the shopping habits of its employees. At the same time, it convincingly demonstrates the ability of architect Karfík to work with a standardised building system with creative ease and a sense of detail.