Miroslav Lorenc

Trail begins Školní 203
First object The house of Alois Nakládal
Miroslav Lorenc, 1933
Public transport: náměstí Míru (TROL 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, BUS 31, 32, 33, 35, 36, 53, 70, 90)

A separate route dedicated to the works of architect Miroslav Lorenc complements the existing "Non-Baťa Zlín" route, where buildings designed according to the designs of architects who worked independently of Baťa for local businessmen and wealthy townspeople are presented. It was Miroslav Lorenc who belonged to the most prominent and at the same time the most active among these non-Baťa architects. Between 1930 and 1940, he designed several dozen buildings in the centre of Zlín. Among them we find objects important for the cityscape, determining the modern character of the changing streets. 
In addition to the numerous group of houses combining commercial and residential functions, these are family villas, public buildings, and apartment buildings that were commissioned by the city. Through the individual chapters, it is possible to show Lorenc's skill, which can be seen in the designs of façades, but also the building layouts. The group of family houses of the Podřevnicko construction cooperative, which was comparable to the Prague settlement of Baba at the time, were among the most exceptional. 
Today, Lorenc's clear architectural signature can only be read from period photographs for most buildings; the majority of them have been permanently altered or destroyed. Former functionalist pearls such as Mrs. Šallerová's villa in the place of today's theatre as well as Malota's cafe are entirely lost. However, some others still show the best that was built in the non-Baťa Zlín. Last but not least, the trail commemorates the exceptional, albeit tragic, fate of Miroslav Lorenc, legionnaire and commander of the Defense of the Nation (Obrana národa) resistance organisation, who died in Wrocław on February 11, 1943.
Miroslav Lorenc was one of the few architects in the interwar Zlín who made their way outside dominant commissions of the Baťa company and intervened in the form of the newly built centre. He was born on June 9, 1896 in Holešov, the eldest of four children. In 1912, his family moved to Hodonín. In 1913, he began studying at the State Technical School of Construction in Brno. However, his studies were interrupted by the First World War. First he was called to the Russian Front, then later to the Italian Front, where he joined a regiment of the Czechoslovak legion. From September 1919, he again joined the industrial school of construction, where he was taught by Emil Králík and Jaroslav Syřiště, important pedagogues of the interwar generation of Brno architects.
In 1922, he joined the studio of Jan Kotěra at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. After Kotěra's death, the studio was taken over by Josef Gočár, who commissioned the students to develop a design for Kotěra's monument. This was Lorenc's first independent work. After graduating from the school, he worked in the studios of Josef Gočár, František Janda, Pavel Janák, and Jan Zázvorka. Probably his most important position was the internship with Jaromír Krejcar, one of the most influential pioneers of functionalist architecture. During his time in Prague, he designed a colony of family houses for Spišská Belá in Slovakia. He elaborated on the topic of the smallest living space, popular at the time, to which he returned again during his practice in Zlín. Since the mid-1920s, he was involved in several (mainly left-wing) architectural associations - the Association of Architects, the Association of Academic Architects, the Left Front at Devětsil, the Union of Socialist Architects, and he was also active in the CIAM and BAPS groups.
In 1928, he married Ludmila Batíková, the daughter of a Zlín businessman and politician, with whom he moved to Zlín in 1930. There he joined the rapidly developing Baťa company and its Construction Department as an experienced, educated architect acquainted with the latest trends in architecture. His first task was to design a school district with a vocational school (today the TBU building no. 4) and a school on Letná. At the same time, work began on the design of the Social House for the newly built náměstí Práce (Labour Square). However, it remained unfinished due to disagreements with the Baťa company, the main reason being the project of a new cinema, where the originally planned budget of CZK 2 million was reduced to CZK 600,000. Miroslav Lorenc left and Vladimír Karfík, another of the newly arrived architects, completed the design for the Social House.
After 14 months at Baťa, Miroslav Lorenc founded his own design office. His clients were mainly wealthy townspeople and businessmen. One of the first realisations was a complex of family houses for the housing and construction cooperative Podřevnicko. In a set of almost 50 simple houses, Lorenc made use of his experience in the design of minimal dwelling. The most widespread typology that Lorenc worked on during the 1930s were houses for businessmen and mobile townspeople. These flat-roofed buildings combined a commercial function on the ground floor with residential spaces on the upper floors. The windows are often three-part or ribbon ones, and on the simply designed façades we find ceramic cladding, which is unusual in Zlín. Commercial spaces with generously glazed and often rounded shop windows occupy the entire ground floor. Houses located most often in the centre of the city were built on long, narrow historical plots. Probably the most prominent legacy Miroslav Lorenc left in Zlín are the corner buildings that fundamentally influenced the appearance of the city centre. These are, for example, the house of Eduard Pelčák (on Dlouhá street), the house of A. Nakládal or the František Javorský business and banking house (both on Tomáš Baťa Avenue). Lorenc's commissions also included residential buildings and villas in the outskirts of the city. They often use ribbon windows, terraces, and generous corner windows. These buildings are now often in an altered condition, or, after an insensitive reconstruction, sometimes even with extensions. One of the best preserved (albeit in poor condition) is Mr. Ševčík's villa in Na Požáře street from 1935. Other realisations can also be found in Napajedla, where he designed a school, a municipal savings bank building, and several villas. Like Jaromír Krejcar, M. Lorenc also focused on furniture and interiors. Simple furniture and distinctive geometric decors testify to knowledge of Bauhaus, Neo-plasticism, but also Russian constructivism. One of the last commissions Miroslav Lorenc worked on just before the war were the so-called Electric Houses. Large-capacity apartment blocks for officials were to be equipped with state-of-the-art technology and fully electrified. These six-storey U-shaped blocks were completed in 1941 without the participation of Miroslav Lorenc. Throughout his time in Zlín, Miroslav Lorenc was also politically active; he was the chairman of the Union of the Legionnaires' Community in Zlín (Jednota obce legionářské ve Zlíně), and he headed the branch of the Czechoslovak Workers' Union. In period photographs, he is often captured in uniform or in a parade. At the beginning of World War II, he joined the National Guard and became the district commander of the Defense of the Nation. After hiding for almost a year, he was arrested and sentenced in 1940. He died in Wroclaw on February 11, 1943. There is a commemorative plaque on the house on Sokolská Street where he lived and worked.