Baťov School Complex

Date 1935–1937
Architect Vladimír Karfík
Trail Otrokovice
Code Z12
Address třída Spojenců 907, Otrokovice
Public transport Public transport: Otrokovice, aut. nádraží Baťov (TROL 2, BUS 55, 70)
GPS 49.2172508N, 17.5122850E

In the first half of the 1930s, the capacities of the school classrooms in old Otrokovice could not meet the increased demand brought about by the rapid influx of residents. The new building of the Masaryk Burgher School (Masarykova měšťanská škola) by architect Antonín Vítek from 1932–⁠1933, which stood on the border between the historic part of the town and the expanding factory colony, helped to solve this problem only temporarily.
An independent school district, similar to the one in the native Zlín, was therefore to form an important part of the expanding company town. The building plot for the school district was located north of the central square in Baťov. In accordance with the principles of functional zoning of Baťa's towns, it was situated on the edge of a residential district, in close proximity to family houses, bachelors' houses, and the social part of the town. The school complex was designed by Vladimír Karfík, who created most of the public buildings built on the initiative of the Baťa shoe company.
The three-storey primary school building was the first to be built on the eastern edge of the plot. The building typology of school buildings was very well developed in the environment of Baťa’s Zlín at that time. Otrokovice school buildings adopted the standardised form and grew with tremendous speed. The primary school was built within a few months at the end of 1935, when it was also opened for pupils of the first five grades. In 1937, the school grounds were expanded to include a five-storey burgher school building, which filled the western corner of the building plot. Building types were used repeatedly in the Baťa environment, with minor deviations - the Baťa primary school is reflected in the design of the Bartošova primary school in Díly, opened in 1937, while the burgher's school is almost indistinguishable from the one in Zálešná in Zlín, also built in 1937.
The primary school in Baťov is supported by a reinforced concrete skeleton, which can be seen on the façades with plastered strips between individual floors. The structure is filled with traditional brickwork, and in each bay there are three narrow and tall two-part windows. The side façades are dominated by a continuous strip of windows illuminating the staircase and the central corridor. The building was entered through a slightly recessed glass entrance facing the east. In addition to spacious classrooms, the headmaster's office and staff rooms, the building also had various workshops, a large gymnasium, dressing rooms, and a screening room.

The building of the burgher school with the main entrance to the west formed an almost identical counterpart of the primary school except for the number of floors. Unlike the primary school, here the southern façade remained smooth, without dividing strips delimiting individual floors, so the central part with windows stood out even more clearly. The north façade was already divided by floors, with small square window openings for toilets. The layout consisted again of a central corridor surrounded on both sides by classrooms. A U-shaped staircase led parallel to the axis of the central corridor, while at the other end of the corridor there were toilets. 
On the ground floor with a spacious foyer, there were changing rooms, workshops for working with wood, metal, and clay, as well as a dental office. The janitor's one-room apartment was accessible through a door in the central window strip on the south side of the building. In addition to regular classrooms, the second floor also offered spaces for the teaching of history and geography, a drawing room, the headmaster's office, and a choir room, while the third floor offered a photo laboratory and special classes for physics and natural history. In addition, there was a room for women's handiwork and a drawing room on the fourth floor. The top floor provided the children with a reading room and a dining room with a kitchen.
Both new schools were equipped with modern furniture and teaching equipment, built-in wardrobes, radio, and central heating. Adjacent to them was the school stadium and a garden with a greenhouse and flower beds, where a significant part of the school day was to take place. The educational institutes belonged to the scheme of experimental schools, which placed emphasis above all on independence, personal experience, moral integrity, the joy of education, and the development of children's individual efforts.

The children - in the words of the headmaster Vladimír Konvička (1900-1971) "burned their own way to new knowledge." Thanks to this teacher with experience from the experimental school in Zlín, it was possible to adapt the indoor environment of the school even more to the functional and operational requirements of this educational trend. Konvička worked at the Baťa schools until 1945, when he left for Brno, and was behind their experimental concept and efforts to educate a contemporary person of integrity. With this unique approach, the experimental schools in Otrokovice ranked among the most advanced school facilities in the whole country at the time.

Today, both buildings are still used for educational purposes – the original primary school is today a secondary school, while the burgher school offers the primary education programme. Apart from replacing the original wooden windows with plastic ones and modifying the interiors, the buildings preserve the architectural form with a clear functionalist corporate aesthetics very well. In the years 1997–1999, a new middle building was built for elementary education.