Fotografia - New Headquarters (Gemini Eye Clinic)

Date 1985–1990
Architect Zdeněk Plesník
Code Z10
Address U Gemini 36, Zlín
Public transport Public transport: Pančava-Gemini (TROL 1, 11, 12; BUS 90)
GPS 49.2206528N, 17.7068278E

When leaving Zlín in the direction of Vizovice, the building of the Gemini Eye Clinic in the Příluky district cannot be overlooked. The author of this dominant building, originally intended for the Fotografia production cooperative, is the architect Zdeněk Plesník. It is a symbol of his creative activities in the 1980s and one of his last projects. In the years 1956–1961, he designed the first Fotografia building for Zlín (then renamed Gottwaldov), which became the most distinctive building in the city centre. It was important not only in terms of design but also in terms of structure - it was probably the first curtain wall in Czechoslovakia. With its realisation, the architect continued the interwar tradition of Zlín architecture, even though construction was already moving in a different direction at that time. 
Thanks to this successful project with the production cooperative, Zdeněk Plesník was approached almost thirty years later to design a new headquarters, this time on a plot in the eastern part of Zlín.
Since the 1960s, Zdeněk Plesník had worked mainly on the design of factory complexes, light industry research institutes, administrative buildings, and public buildings. He always strove for innovative solutions in terms of spatial qualities and layout, the mutual arrangement of construction systems and the creation of an artificial environment. He would often develop one concept in a number of designs and realisations. This was also the case with the Slovakotex design in Trenčín and the Centrotex design in Prague's Pankrác district. In these designs he summarised his long-term study of an optimal office environment and consistently applied the concept of an inverted pyramid with the intersection of a block. In the end, he managed to realise this detailed vision in Zlín in the case of the design for a new, larger, headquarters for the Fotografia production cooperative. The realisation of the building, which controls the eastern tip of the urban development with its silhouette, was the result of the continuing development of a building type, based on the idea of the ​​adaptability of the structure to the climate. The architect combined the motif of a central foundation and a load-bearing facade, that remains unlit in summer months. The six-storey mass of the inverted pyramid with a horizontal composition uses the sloping terrain into which it is sensitively incorporated. While the intersection of the block and the inverted pyramid positioned at the edge of the terrain looks very impressive, the sculptural expression was not an aesthetic speculation, but in fact resulted from an effort to meet a number of practical needs. The architect tried to design the building so as to best fulfil the specific requirements of the operation, which needed shading. He lifted the building above the surroundings with wedge-shaped supports. Thanks to the integration into the slope, the main entrance is located on the third floor. Both the architect and the enlightened investor endeavoured to build a new, technically up-to-date building, corresponding to the new requirements. However, the final construction is only a partial success due to a number of compromises. As a result of the overall change in the field of photographic technologies and market needs, the building never served its original purpose. It changed owners several times and was rebuilt to become the headquarters of one of the post-revolutionary banks called Foresbank. The interiors and modifications were designed by the architect Jan Přehnal. The superstructure in particular does not correspond to the character of Plesník's design.
A few years ago, the building underwent another external and internal renovation; the entrance areas were modified and the client parking lot and the interiors were adapted for the activities of the well-known Zlín Eye Clinic Gemini. Plesník's original concept of shading and protection from direct sunlight meets well with the operation of the clinic. Despite a number of modifications, the building remains one of Plesník's chief realisations and is an important contribution to the field of boldly-shaped sculptural architecture. The way the construction site is utilised and the building’s plastic quality are unmatched anywhere else in the city.