The villa of Tomáš Baťa (Thomas Bata), the founder of the Bata shoe factories, is one of the architectural landmarks of the city of Zlin despite being architecturally different in appearance to other Bata functionalist architecture. It was built from 1909 to 1911, and was exceedingly simple for its time. Bata wanted to build a pleasant home for himself and his family, a place where he could relax while at the same time have a view of the factory from each of the main rooms.
Its primary attributes are its coziness and functionality, which are reflected in the villa’s interior and exterior. The house’s appearance and its surroundings were created by renowned architects and builders: Jan Kotera, Frantisek Josef Thomayer, Frantisek Lydie Gahura and Vladimir Karfik. | Photo courtesy of Thomas Bata Foundation
The villa is managed by the Thomas Bata Foundation and is currently used for cultural, social, and educational events. “The villa’s spaces have been used as film locations in the past. The interconnection of the individual spaces within the building’s interior offers a plethora of options for using the space. One of the villa’s biggest advantages is that it’s situated in an extensive garden, well protected by the surrounding groves,” explains Pavel Velev, Thomas Bata Foundation director.
“The interior was restored to its original appearance in the past. The turret atop the villa offers views of the factory as well as the entire city. Its facilities are adapted for short-term stays and provide the conditions necessary for crews to work,” adds Mr. Velev.
Architect Jan Kotera conceived the villa as a two-storey building; its central section consists of a hall with a wooden spiral staircase and landing. The villa was confiscated by the government in the 1950s and was converted into a house for Young Pioneers and significantly devalued with insensitive modifications. During this “normalization” period, the garden also suffered – a road leading to the newly-built Jizni Svahy (Southern Slopes) apartment complex ran right through it. After 1989, the villa was renovated.
The dominant feature of the villa’s interior is the faithfully reconstructed ground floor. The most used rooms in the house are the living room, dining room, library, Bata’s study, and the men’s salon. Each of these rooms is named after a prominent personality connected with Bata. The interior is decorated with a wide variety of architectural, artistic, and handcrafted gems.
The recently-founded Zlin Film Office can provide information and assist filmmakers with arranging shoots in the Bata Villa as well as throughout the entire Zlin Region. The region offers a wide variety of architectural monuments, ranging from the Great Moravian period (Archeoskanzen Modrá) to the Renaissance (Kromeriz Chateau), folk architecture (Roznov na Morave folk art museum) to functionalism and modernism (Zlin).
“The Thomas Bata Villa is without a doubt one of our greatest architectural treasures. The ground floor of the villa is original and the upper floor has been converted into offices. Thanks to this, filmmakers can make not only historical films, but also stories from the present. It’s a similar case with the Jan Antonin Bata Villa built in 1927 by architect Frantisek Lydie Gahura, currently the headquarters of Czech Radio Brno. The original salon with fireplace, the wood panelling, the staircase, and J. A. Bata’s study have all been preserved,” added Magdalena Hladka of the Zlin Film Office.
The following exteriors and interiors, for example, can be used when filming at the Thomas Bata Villa:
The main hall – the largest space on the ground floor, originally the main living space, with a fireplace and two different ceiling heights. At the rear is an accessible balcony, from which the entire hall can be seen. The dominant features of the hall are the colorful stained glass windows, period chandelier, marble fireplace, and wood-panelled walls. Original portraits of Mr and Mrs Bata can also be found here. The brass chandelier, designed by Kotera in the early 20th century, is original. The stained glass windows in the hall and stairway are the work of Josef Kysela, who used an entirely original American technique named after its founder – the “Tiffany technique”. A hidden side staircase, intended primarily for servants, opens into the hall.
Library – a wood-panelled room decorated with a variety of carved ornaments. Of special value is the hammered copper “painting” in a marble frame. The built-in cabinets are filled with books devoted to Bata literature. Part of the wooden panelling is original, the rest is a replica. The layout of the room corresponds to the its original use by Thomas Bata’s family.
Dining Room – the original dining room is furnished with luxurious built-in mahogany pieces inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The walls are covered in mahogany combined with textile panels.
Thomas Bata’s study – in its original location and now set up as a museum that illustrates Bata’s frugality and inclination towards minimalism. The study’s interior features numerous photos from the life of Bata’s family and company. Also on display are period items, such as a typewriter, a manual calculator, metal advertising signs, and a planning calendar. The furniture is not original, but reflects the style of the period (the 1930s) – it’s not furniture originally designed for a home office, but rather pieces that were used in the factory offices.
Mirror Corridor – created as an afterthought during the building’s renovation in the late 20th century. It was originally used by Thomas and Marie Bata as a conservatory, fully connected to the dining room, located behind the mirrors. The marble floor in these spaces is original.
Garden – originally nearly double in size and reached all the way to the bank of the Drevnice River opposite. Here Thomas Bata hosted events such as the first company celebration of Labor Day for factory workers. The garden was reduced to its current size during the second half of the 20th century. It features a gardener’s house, a bunker, and adjacent grove that separates the villa from the surrounding urban development.
Contact the Czech Film Commission for filming in the Zlin Region or get in touch directly with Magdalena Hladka of the Zlin Film Office, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel.: +420 778 515 50