Networked Utopia

 

Above: Timeline-annex to the dissertation; press "start prezi", and then the icon on bottom-right corner to go full-screen, and use the mouse to pan and zoom.


From its humble beginnings as a small workshop established by Tomáš Baťa in 1874, the Bata Shoe Company became a gigantic concern in the 1920s, built on the principles of scientific management and welfare capitalism. The growth of the company engulfed Zlín (in today’s Czech Republic), its hometown, and transformed it into a modern industrial garden city satisfying the needs of both a growing industrial population, and those of the company itself. As a reaction to the aftermath of the crisis of 1929, the enterprise began a strategy of decentralization and international expansion characterized by the design and construction of a series of modern industrial towns that replicated the model of Zlín around the globe. 
This study is an exhaustive survey of these cities, their rationale, design, and their postindustrial conditions; it is a comparative work that has used field trips, photography, interviews, and archival material to explain the logics behind Bata’s project, to document the design and implementation of the model to multiple contexts and geographies, and to evaluate of the urban legacy of this undertaking. Finally, the research explores the question of what can the design disciplines, and other parties involved, learn from a full synthesis on the history and urbanism of the Bata satellite cities with regard to the re-imagination and sustainability of contemporary industry-sponsored interventions in developing geographies.

 

Research proposal awarded with the Druker Travelling Fellowship from the Department of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard GSD, May 2011.

PhD dissertation submitted in December 2015, directed by Luis Fernández Galiano, in the School of Architecture of Madrid, ETSAM. Date of defense: February 8, 2016.