The House for Single Mothers

Date 1969–
Code Z15
Address Nad Ovčírnou, Zlín
Public transport Public transport: Památník T. Bati (BUS 53)
GPS 49.2201239N, 17.6603472E
49.2200692N, 17.6612756E
49.2190044N, 17.6609156E
49.2190753N, 17.6625931E
49.2184283N, 17.6623022E
49.2179361N, 17.6633192E

In 1967, the Svit national enterprise initiated the first negotiations with the Municipal National Committee on the construction of a dormitory for single women and mothers who worked in the enterprise. At that time, the factory employed almost 29,000 workers, and more than 65% of them were women. Although the exact statistics of single women and mothers were not known, the number was estimated to be high. Many female employees had to commute from distant places or lived in former dormitory buildings that served as company accommodation, where one room was intended for six to eight people.
The representatives of Svit considered the standard of living unsatisfactory. This was a strategically important group of women (not only unmarried, mothers, but also widows) who were at their "peak performance" in their middle age, yet lacked privacy and suitable living conditions. The situation was to be solved by a new building with residential units, which would provide facilities for this specific group of the female population. In addition to the standard pram storage rooms, drying and ironing rooms, a buffet, a common room, a hairdressers, and a beauty parlour were also to operate in the building. The plot of land that was chosen for the new house is located in the Nad Ovčírnou IV district, in the immediate vicinity of the Baťa family houses and dormitories.
In the first version of the project, the building was to be divided into two wings connected by a common staircase. The layout of the individual buildings was to correspond to the needs of its residents; one wing was to serve mothers with children, the other wing was designed for single women. However, the department of the chief architect of the Gottwaldov urban agglomeration under the leadership of Adolf Zikmund did not approve this option. The main reason for the rejection of the plan was that the dimensions and orientation of house for single women did not match with the surrounding buildings and the shape of the dormitory buildings.
The result of the second variant was a free-standing seven-storey building facing east and west partially embedded in the sloping terrain like the other dormitory buildings. Just like the Baťa dormitories, the house for single mothers’ layout consists of a 3m wide corridor flanked on both sides by rooms with a width of 6.3 m. The horizontally designed façade is made up of a regular grid of three-part windows with pillars between the windows clad with brick strips, complemented by light coloured textured plaster. Brick cladding is also used on the sides of the building and on the ground floor. The ground floor is of bigger height than the rest of the building, and the two entrances to the building are highlighted by three large strip windows.
In total, the building had 136 residential units. Single mothers had two-room apartments with a kitchen and a bathroom at their disposal; the same apartments were shared by two single childless workers of Svit. In total, it was possible to accommodate 33 mothers and 206 single women. The exception is the caretaker's three-room apartment, which is located on the first floor. On each floor there was also a common room, a service room with cleaning equipment, and a storage room for bed linen. On the ground floor, there was a food store and a buffet, a hairdresser, and a laundry for "small washing." Bed linen was sent to the factory laundry. In the middle of the building there is a U-shaped staircase connecting all floors, as well as two lifts.
Currently, the former house for single women is owned by the Statutory City of Zlín and partially still serves its original purpose. The original layout and overall appearance of the house is maintained, the building was insulated on the shorter sides, and the windows were also replaced with plastic ones. Today, the premises of a private kindergarten operate on the ground floor, but the rest of the common operations of the building remain more or less unused. The House for Single Mothers, as it is often called in Zlín, is an inconspicuous but nevertheless important example of a multi-capacity accommodation facility that was right from the beginning conceived for a long time disadvantaged group of working women.