From Brick to Panel

Trail begins Věžové domy 861, 863, 874, 876, 879
First object Tower houses
Miroslav Drofa, 1950
Public transport: Věžové domy (BUS 31, 70)
The post-war period was a truly transformational period for Zlín - Zlín became Gottwaldov, Baťa's typification and standardisation, in turn, an instrument for building a socialist city. Already during the Second World War, the attention of the Baťa company shifted from standardised and typified houses of traditional brick construction to accelerated building methods. First, cast concrete structures were tested. These did not work very well, which brought to the fore the question of houses assembled from panels. Initially prefabricated panels were still embedded in a reinforced concrete skeleton, but they very quickly took over the load-bearing function. From this point it was close to apartment houses assembled from panels and finally to the prototype of the famous G40 block of flats.
Early post-war residential projects transform previous experiences in two directions. The first is to maintain the typical Zlín visual identity of buildings and transform the form of housing from family houses to residential houses, such as the three-storey houses in Obeciny designed by Vladimír Karfík, or the Morýs Houses and tower houses by Miroslav Drofa, to a relatively revolutionary form of housing in Jiří Voženílek's collective house.
The second direction of the transformation is the break with this visual identity and developing Zlín's experience with prefabrication while retaining, at least initially, a relatively traditional form of housing. From the prefabricated duplexes and the three-storey residential house made of prefabricated panels in Podvesná, it was not far to the house made fully of structural prefabricated panels, known as the G40 type. It was this model that started the nationwide construction of today's cursed and sometimes hailed "panelák", the most common form of housing today.
Between 1953 and 1959, Zlín (by then known as Gottwaldow) innovators Bohumír Kula and Hynek Adamec developed the G series at an incredible pace - first a corner variant of the G40 type named G55, then the nationally widespread G57 type and finally the G58 and G59 types, unfortunately realised only in prototypes and several other "specimens". Today, it is difficult to objectively assess why the G58 and G59 were not repeated. The unique appearance of the buildings could have been overshadowed by higher steel consumption due to the combined construction system (panels + load-bearing steel columns) as well as technical problems with thermal bridges of light window panels. There was also criticism of the unnecessary and unjustified "decoration" of the façade with typical circular openings. At the same time, in the years 1959–1961, the implementation of various types of experimental constructions took place in a coordinated manner throughout the country, so the Zlín Stavosvit lost its position as the most progressive company, bringing a novelty in the field of housing construction almost every year.
At the beginning of 1959, the Stavosvit Gottwaldov national enterprise merged with the Průmstav Brno national enterprise, and work in the field of progressive housing construction was taken over by other state organisations. Unfortunately, Czechoslovakia thus lost other types of apartment buildings that could compete with the upcoming TO series, which the proven Stavosvit team would undoubtedly have been able to develop, while Gottwaldov, as Zlín was called then, lost unique prototypes of residential houses. Thus ended the roughly four decades long period, when Zlín experimented with various forms and technologies, and
was to some extent Czechoslovakia's "housing laboratory".