Sole Leather Tannery

Date 1948–1951
Architect Vladimír Kubečka
Trail Otrokovice
Code Z12
Address třída Tomáše Bati 1566, Otrokovice
Public transport Public transport: Otrokovice-Zahradní (BUS 55, 70) Otrokovice, Trelleborg (BUS 55, 70) Otrokovice, Hurdisky (TROL 2; BUS 55, 70)
GPS 49.2128631N, 17.5187697E

At the beginning of the 1930s, the Baťa company began to build a branch factory complex on an open marshy area near the historic village of Otrokovice. The company had a clear intention of placing auxiliary and preparatory operations there, which would facilitate the Zlín plant. Sufficient undeveloped space near the Dřevnice and Morava rivers contributed to the fact that the production area in Baťov became a centre of tannery operations within a few years. At the same time, it provided the background for additional sectors of the footwear industry, such as stationery, leather dyeing, hosiery, as well as other technical operations like chemical production, power plants, refineries, and shipyards.
The production ensemble was generously conceived in five rows in accordance with Gahura's idea of a factory in gardens. Regular rows of factory buildings were divided by wide roads, which, together with planted greenery, gave the impression of an airy, clean and pleasant working environment. The main entrance to the area was set in the middle of the western edge of the complex, directly opposite the social centre with the square. It was supplemented by a two-storey administrative building completed in 1933 and an outpatient department from 1936.
The use of a proven standardised system enabled tremendous speed of construction. In the second half of the 1930s, the area consisted of several dozen production halls. Typical factory buildings varied the concept of a reinforced concrete structure filled with brick masonry and spacious windows in metal frames, or they were simple one-storey production halls.
The war years intervened in the feverish construction activity. The industrial complex deteriorated considerably during the occupation, and the tannery production did not have sufficient capacity just after the war. During the 1947-1948 two-year plan period, attention - in addition to housing construction and the repair of roads affected by the war - focused on the restoration of the factory area.
In 1948, the management of the nationalised company commissioned the architect Vladimír Kubečka to create a project for a new sole leather tannery. Implementation began the same year and the building was put into operation at the beginning of 1951. Vladimír Kubečka was an employee of the construction department of the Baťa company since 1936 and in the post-war period he was one of the main figures who influenced the architectural and urban development of Zlín. He was a member of the working group that was behind the new master plan of the city from 1946-1947, and at the same time, together with the architect Jiří Voženílek, he participated in improving the construction technology of production buildings. His central shoe warehouse in Zlín from 1947–1955 brought a number of technical innovations and thoughtful visual details to the building of spectacular dimensions. A similar case is also the Otrokovice sole leather tannery, which at the time of its establishment stood out for its unique construction and technological production innovations. 
The tannery building was situated in the first row of factory halls on the south-western edge of the premises and was divided into two connected parts. The seven-storey high-rise building was joined in the west by a pair of lower halls measuring 2 x 27 metres rising above the level of the second floor of the high-rise building.
The loadbearing structure of the multi-storey part of the building, with a central corridor and workshops on both sides, consists of a standard plastered skeleton, on reinforced concrete belt foundations. The shorter side façades where the vertical communications and toilets are situated rise above the level of the roof and emphasise the outline of the building. Kubečka adapted the height of individual floors to the type of operation they contained. He worked the same way with the size of the windows inserted in the brick infill masonry. The top three floors had modules in the central part mostly filled with bricks, lit only by a narrow strip of windows. Two light fire escapes stretched along the façade facing the industrial zone, to which the railway siding also led. 
The adjacent tannery halls were roofed by light concrete shell structures with a width of 4.2 metres. The concrete shells were steam cured directly on the construction site, which significantly accelerated the hardening of the concrete and the entire construction process. The lighting of the hall was provided by prefabricated skylights inserted between the individual shells. The tannery was one of the most modern operations in the country, also thanks to its technological conveniences – the tannery crane and the central dosing of tannery slurry significantly facilitated the work of the staff.
Vladimír Kubečka collaborated on the project with Konrád Hruban (1893–1977), a civil engineer and professor at the Technical University in Brno and Czech Technical University in Prague, who was behind the specific construction of the tannery. Hruban was one of the major experts in the field of concrete thin-walled shell structures. Together with Bohuslav Fuchs, he participated in the design of the bus station shelter opposite the Grand Hotel in Brno with a roof in the form of corrugated concrete shells.
Currently, the building is part of the production premises and serves as the headquarters of a freight forwarding company. In the lower halls, which have undergone additional modifications and the removal of skylights, there is now a shooting range. Despite the construction interventions, which partially changed the architectural and structural design (windows, entrances), the original form is still very well recognisable. The sole leather tannery building still represents a fine example of two-year-plan architecture with lingering influences of Baťa's building culture. Its monumental silhouette makes a significant contribution to the city's skyline.