Social House

Date 1935–1936
Architect Vladimír Karfík
Trail Otrokovice
Code Z12
Address třída Spojenců 727, Otrokovice
Public transport Public transport: Otrokovice, Společenský dům (TROL 2, BUS 55, 70)
GPS 49.2148911N, 17.5124356E

The main centre of social life in Baťov was the Baťov Social House, situated in a central position on the west side of the park close to the factory. Similar to the Social House in Zlín, which was completed in 1933 according to the plans of the architect Vladimír Karfík, it was supposed to combine the representative international hotel environment for out-of-town visitors with social comfort for local residents.
The architectural design for Baťov was again prepared by Vladimír Karfík. František Lýdie Gahura and Antonín Vítek also took part in the internal competition. Gahura conceived the house as a four-pointed star, connected in the centre by a circular glazed walkway with a garden courtyard inside. However, according to Karfík's memoirs, Jan Antonín Baťa indiscriminately rejected this option. Antonín Vítek presented a similar concept, only at the junction of the individual tracts, instead of a courtyard, he planted a hall, which in the form of a square high-rise building rises significantly above the level of the wings. The project of Vladimír Karfík, who chose a three-pointed star with a central hall space, was the winner. The floor plan in the shape of the letter Y was used for the first time in Czechoslovakia by Oldřich Tyl in the competition for the industrial school in Hradec Králové in1927.
The construction of the Bat'ov Social House began in the spring of 1935 and was completed in less than a year. The cost of its construction amounted to almost CZK 5.5 million. The opening ceremony of the richly lit house took place together with the opening of the adjacent department store on the eve of the traditional May Day celebrations, on 30 April 1936, with the participation of the company management headed by Jan Antonín Baťa and the head of the Baťa tanneries, Hynek Baťa. In June 1936, while visiting Zlín, president Edvard Beneš came to see the place. 
Vladimír Karfík used a traditional reinforced concrete construction for the Community House, which is also visible on the façades. Due to the unstable subsoil, he settled it in a system of almost a hundred foundation wells, up to 2.5 metres wide and 6 metres deep. The perimeter walls are made up of hollow infill insulating masonry. The horizontality of the four-storey building is supported by wide, plastered bands separating the individual floors. The structural field on the ground and first floors is defined by generous windows in subtle steel frames with ventilation flaps. On the floor with flats, Karfík applied a pair of sash windows for each bay, much the same way as in Zlín. The building was topped by an open roofed terrace, which allowed visitors to relax with a view of the town, and offered a dance floor and a glass conservatory. The elevator machine room combined with a laundry room protruded above the upper terrace, where the neon sign "Hotel Společenský dům Bat'ov" was installed. Other terraces were accessible on the first floor at the ends of the wings and in the central part of the entrance wing.
The main entrance to the building faced the square and was accentuated by a front garden. With its dynamic floor plan, the Community House is divided into three separate wings (A, B, C) connected by a central hall with an oval ceiling, illuminated with reflected light. The hall constituted the main communication unit of the building. It featured a pair of passenger lifts, toilets and an impressively shaped staircase with chrome handrails, generously lit by large glazing.
The ground and first floors served the general public. The west-facing A wing had a cellar underneath which housed a kitchen with vegetable, meat and confectionery preparation on the ground floor, as well as a hairdressing and barber shop and a public cloakroom for the theatre, lecture theatre, and cinema in the C wing. This theatre was meant as a temporary solution for a few years. However, a separate cinema building near the Community Centre never materialised.
In the B wing there was a canteen for the employees of the company with 420 seats. 
The first floor provided a cafeteria with a wooden floor and seating boxes in the C wing. Wing B provided a games room with pool tables and table tennis tables, and a library with a reading room. A wing housed a French restaurant with club rooms. Accommodation for hotel guests was provided in all wings of the second floor. 
In contrast to the Social House in Zlín, whose design Karfík also won thanks to the fact that he equipped all the rooms with bathrooms in his design, the one in Bat'ov offered other variants of hotel accommodation. In the B and C wings, there were rooms with shared bathrooms at the entrance to the wing as well as mass dormitories. Wing A was adapted for more demanding customers, where bathrooms were part of the individual rooms. 
In the halls there were terrazzo floors, in the restaurant and café areas floors were covered in red coloured screed, and the rooms used screed with wood fibre flooring. Heating and ventilation was provided by a modern air-conditioning system.
During the second half of the 20th century, the Community House underwent a number of changes. The biggest change was sacrificing the terrace on the last floor for accommodation. The original window frames and advertising neon were replaced. The use of the communal areas was continuously adapted to contemporary requirements - after the revolution in 1989, a disco, a confectionery shop, and a library operated here. 
In 2015, the house was included as the only Otrokovice structure on the list of cultural monuments. Today it serves as a hotel and hostel, offering conference facilities and various sales outlets. It is currently dilapidated, obscured by extensions and excessive advertising. It is still awaiting a thorough quality renovation to restore its original architectural purity. Nevertheless, it is clear from the preserved original details, structural, ground plan and material solution that the building was of exceptional quality at the time of its construction and is undoubtedly one of Vladimír Karfík's finest achievements among his works for the Baťa company architecture.