Otrokovice Corporate Housing

In the early 1930s, when the attention of the representatives of the Baťa company focused on the construction and development of the Baťov factory colony which was in close proximity to the historical town of Otrokovice, the company had already made a number of efforts to find the most suitable form of accommodation for employees in their native Zlín. 
Under the influence of the phenomenon of garden cities, the main housing type for married employees was a family house in separate neighbourhoods, which afforded them the privacy they needed after working in production. The company provided houses to employees for a favourable rental as an attractive company benefit and at the same time a way of attachment to the company.
Over the course of almost two decades, the group's accommodation policy crystallised into a strictly organized and well-thought-out system. This enabled unprecedented speed and economy of building production while maintaining high quality housing with modern facilities (houses were electrified, connected to sewage, with running hot water). The construction department designed the houses as mass-produced two-storey buildings with mostly face-brick façades, where the size, layout of rooms, and architectural details could be varied.
All this experience was applied to the newly-built plant in Otrokovice. The original municipality did not provide sufficient accommodation capacity to satisfy the increased influx of residents moving for work opportunities at Baťa. The management of the shoe company therefore had to urgently set up its own workers' housing, but at the same time it had to adapt to the specific conditions of the local terrain.
While the workers, under expert guidance, were preparing the marshy land between the Morava River and the factory by transporting clay above ground level and floating soil from the opposite Tresný hill, the company's construction department concentrated on the area south of the factory near the Dřevnice river. In the years 1931–1934, the precinct known as Stará kolonie (the Old Colony) was filled mainly with quadruplex houses, i.e. the type that the company had abandoned in Zlín by the 1930s as insufficient in terms of space.
According to the urban plans of František Lýdie Gahura, the main residential zone was supposed to form a separate section and surround the central social and commercial area of the square on three sides. A clear, geometrically-arranged street structure with rectangular lines demarcated the space for the serial construction of semi-detached houses of various types (the most widespread is type 28, 35, 38, and during the war also plastered Florián and Musil styles), which represent the dominant form of housing in the colony in Baťov.
Houses with basements and a more generous layout featured an entrance hall, living room, separate kitchen and bathroom on the ground floor and two bedrooms on the first floor in each of the two opposite apartments. Detached houses for only one family, better positioned within the corporate hierarchy, were dispersed organically throughout the local residential area. There was often a type of single-family house that, in addition to the garage forming the base for a spacious terrace, also had a veranda, a kitchen with a pantry, a living room, and an additional guest bedroom on the upper floor. 
An example of an individually designed house is the villa for the director of the local plant Josef Hlavnička, from 1934 at tř. Odboje. Its specific floor plan corresponded to the leading position of the occupant of the house. The joined space of the hall with the dining room and study on the ground floor, supplemented by several bedrooms and a bathroom with a dressing room on the first floor, and a pair of garage spaces stood out in particular.
Attention was also paid in Otrokovice to mass accommodation, which was reserved for young single employees and students. At the beginning of the 1930s, a three-storey dormitory with a classic standardised reinforced concrete structure with brick infills was established near the main entrance to the factory. Dormitories with a central corridor flanked by rooms on both sides offered the lowest standard of accommodation in the environment of Baťa's corporate towns. Less qualified workers lived here in a controlled daily regime.
Single employees, mostly from administrative, teaching, or medical positions, could use single or double rooms. Four bachelor houses were placed in close proximity to the school premises and another row of five units on the edge of the residential district on Moravní Street (1936–1940). Bachelor houses adopted the architectural form of family houses and were also realised in replicable variants that differed in layout and number of rooms. Contrary to the usual types appearing on Letná, the Otrokovice bachelor houses contained more rooms - type III has a total of 21 rooms with sanitary facilities on the ground floor and first floor, type VIII for women from 1939 provided 14 rooms.
The hectic activity that led to the construction of around 400 company houses in less than a decade slowed down significantly in 1938 and with the onset of war. In the post-war period, the further development of residential areas was no longer continued, and instead, with the vision of saving space and finances, the concept of multi-storey rental houses was approached. Otrokovice took over the Obeciny style of three-storey residential building by Vladimír Karfík from the years 1946–1949, with a minor layout change. 
Zlín's residential districts are part of the Zlín city conservation zone and have thus retained their compact form to a large extent. On the other hand, the Otrokovice workers' houses do not enjoy any heritage protection. Devastating floods in 1997 significantly damaged the entire residential area in Baťov.


Subsequent interventions during the necessary repairs in many places obscured the original architecture of family houses and bachelor apartments. Some of the houses were covered with modern layers of coloured plaster. Various additions as well as self-styled decorative elements, such as conical balustrades or clocks on the façade, changed the layout and the external appearance of the houses beyond recognition. The character of garden districts with houses loosely located in grassy terrain has also changed. The individual buildings are now privately owned, and previously connected garden plots have in the main been divided by fences.