František Lýdie Gahura, 1993
Public transport: náměstí Práce (TROL 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, BUS 31, 38, 70)
The factory complex formed the core of the new Zlín, a corporate city that had prospered and and grown in parallel with the Baťa company since the beginning of the last century. To this day, the factory complex belongs to the most authentic parts of the city, testifying to decades of industrial production.
The first stage of construction took place near the railway station, where two brick workshops with upstairs flats were built. In the years 1905–1906, the construction of multi-storey production facilities for engine rooms and machine shops began, thanks to which the operation became better structured and more efficient. These were face brick buildings, and the brick facades were divided by massive arched windows. The plans for the first production buildings were conceived by Tomáš Baťa after a trip to the USA and were adapted for the local environment by the architect Dominik Fey from Uherské Hradiště.
At that time, the plant belonged to a company that was among the most technologically equipped, having the most modern machinery, and it had supplied the Austrian army during the First World War. In tandem with the factory halls, temporary buildings also appeared spontaneously in the area - sheds, wooden extensions, roofs and other temporary buildings. The rapid development taking place during the war boom stopped with the establishment of Czechoslovakia, when the volume of production decreased, and consequently the development of the company. More growth did not follow until six years later.
This time was utilised for conceptual planning, resulting in the construction of factory halls in 1923. The basis of all other designs was a construction module with a span of 6.15 × 6.15 m, which was based on American units of measurement (20 × 20 feet). The new factory building had a basic volume of 13 × 3 fields with stair extensions. Most buildings had a rectangular floor plan (20 × 80 m) and had three or five floors. The façade was divided by large steel windows with face brick walls underneath and visible skeleton frame structure of columns and lintels covered in light plaster. The flat roof without an attic was covered with cardboard roofing. Engine rooms and smaller operations were concentrated in hall buildings.
The overall master plan of the "Factory in the Gardens" was designed by the corporate architect František Lýdie Gahura. The proposal draws on familiarity with similar company town projects in the US and the UK. The area of factory buildings, which already had a clearly corporate character, was laid out in regular parallel rows. Thus, the spaces for industrial production and management as well as parks serving recreational purposes appear side by side. Period photographs show the amount of greenery and the arrangement of streets and pavements lined with trees.
Part of Baťa's communication strategy was the ubiquitous slogans motivating workers to better performance and continuous improvement. The inscriptions were located inside the factory halls, but also on the walls and in other open spaces. Communication through short texts or advertisements on public buildings naturally penetrated the everyday life of Zlín. Inside the enclosed factory premises surrounded by a wall, carefully thought-out transport logistics directly related to production were followed. Cable cars with moving belts high above the heads of employees transported tons of semi-finished products, individual parts, or finished products.
In addition to footwear, the factory produced the relevant parts, fabrics, fuels, and building materials for company buildings. The business included engineering workshops, forests, farms, and also airports. Building No. 75 was built in 1932 in the western part of the complex, to which the production of tyres and later rubber production was transferred. This became the Barum Otrokovice national enterprise in the 1950s.
The most serious changes to the form of the factory complex were caused by the bombing of the city by Allied forces on November 20, 1944, which affected mainly the eastern part. Buildings No. 14, 15, 16 and 26 were completely demolished, while other buildings were damaged and had to be pulled down later. After the end of the war, new factory buildings were built on the vacated plots. They used a different modular system, extended to the dimensions of 7.85 × 6.15 × 7.85 m. This increased the work area, and the changing rooms and sanitary facilities for men and women were placed in mezzanines.
The nationalised factory complex remained an important industrial centre even after 1948. During the second half of the 20th century, buildings with the most modern technological equipment were designed here. The overall master plan was preserved and the new buildings gradually filled the empty spaces remaining after the raid, or they found a place in the western part of the premises.
During the 1990s, the complex was still closed to the public. That is why the large area has been preserved in its authentic form, the regular plan designed by F. L. Gahura still legible. Only later were the individual buildings gradually sold off to private owners. The footwear industry gradually went bankrupt. After the year 2000, the complex was opened to the public in several stages and the buildings ceased to serve production purposes. At present, the former factory district is undergoing a transformation and is gradually joining the structure of the city; it can be considered a new centre of municipal life. In addition to the seat of the region and the administration, shops, restaurants and hospital facilities, there are also regional cultural facilities and housing units.