Architect František Lýdie Gahura
Trail From Square to Square
Address náměstí Míru 12, Zlín
Public transport Public transport: náměstí Míru (TROL 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, BUS 31, 32, 33, 35, 36, 53, 70, 90) Dlouhá (TROL 2, 4, 5, 9)
GPS 49.2265694N, 17.6661547E
Monument preservation Town hall is a monument listed under the number ÚSKP 50760/7-8936
The town hall, completed in 1924, was built according to the plan of architect František Lýdie Gahura and it is one of his first independent realisations. It aptly illustrates the way in which modern forms of architecture penetrated the environment of the traditional historical centre of Zlín, then Masarykovo náměstí (Masaryk Square), formerly Hlavní (Main Square), and now náměstí Míru (Peace Square). Since the turn of the 20th century this had been slowly changing towards the contemporary urban style. In 1896, a Neo-Renaissance building of the Civic Savings Bank appeared on the square and a new town school by Dominik Fey not far from it.
The original Renaissance town hall combined with a coaching inn situated on the western edge of the square burnt down in 1921. It was necessary to make up for the missing municipality offices on the vacant plot very quickly. The then left-wing leadership of Zlín headed by mayor František Novák decided to use Gahura's proposal from a nationwide competition (the design later became his diploma thesis), which brought an unusual monumental accent to the square. Due to the high cost of the new building, the candidate running against the Communist Party, Tomáš Baťa, who eventually won the election, opposed the design.
When the town hall construction begun in 1922, František L. Gahura stood at the beginning of his career, and was completing his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague under the supervision of Professor Jan Kotěra. The influence of Kotěra and Gahura's former teacher Josip Plečnik, two fundamental pioneers of modernism in Czechoslovakia, is very well evident in the Zlín Town Hall. It combines a moderate, then already fading geometric Art Nouveau with classicist tendencies. Compared to the most progressive examples of current architecture, which developed in Prague or Brno in the form of rondocubism, purism, and constructivism, and even compared to Gahura's own work for the Baťa company only a few years later, the town hall building has a very conservative feel. Gahura, however, gracefully coped with the historical forms of the surrounding buildings and the overall spatial conditions of the then rather small-town square.
The town hall, built over an L-shaped ground plan, turns with the main entrance, steeped by stone arches of the protruding terrace and low staircase platform, into the square. Gahura divided the central facade into two visually separate volumes. The lower two-storey block with a covered ground floor arcade carrying a large balcony by the main ceremonial hall is topped by an attic with a gabled roof. The adjacent, one floor higher volume with a smooth façade, arched windows, and with stone lining on the ground floor reminds one of the historic corner city towers and gates. Its vertical character is supported by a pointed hip roof (in Gahura's drawing reinforced by an unrealised protruding triangular gable).
In the 1930s, the north wall on the 3rd floor was fitted with Gahura's statue of a Blacksmith (Kovářská Street, now Bartošova Street). The long northern block from the late 1930s is rhythmically divided by a dense sequence of windows and continuous ledges and adapted to the character of the main building.
The layout of the building unfolds around the entrance hall with a U-shaped staircase, around which were originally located the reading room, the library, the city savings bank, a doctor's surgery and the police office. The adjoining corridors with surrounding offices were terminated by another auxiliary staircase.
Gahura decorated the representative vestibule, corridors and large staircase with a brown-pink marble tiling with white veins, a geometric marble handrail, with brass infill, and a ceiling divided into square cassettes with round lamps. Light is brought to the public parts of the interiors by stained-glass glazing in the main staircase dating back to the 1950s.
The architect used similar decorative elements in the generous ceremonial room on the first floor. This ceremonial hall houses the original reinforced concrete coffered ceiling with frescoes with plant motifs on a blue background by F. L. Gahura and František Kysela. Massive pillars and a gallery for musicians on the first floor, covered with wood to half-height, are also plastically divided by regular stucco strips.
Gahura's Town Hall still serves as government offices, housing the Municipality of Zlín. Its original state is reasonably preserved, including a number of original details in the interiors, which continue to constitute the official atmosphere of the city office.