There’s a very unusual office in the Bata Skyscraper in the Czech Republic city of Zlín. Tom Scott visited the building to reveal that the fully-functioning office can go up and down the 16 floors. You might think such an unusual feature was customized as part of a modern building but the Bata building was actually completed in 1939.
Tom explains that the administrative building was remarkably contemporary when it was built, such as having air-conditioning on each floor, a doorless paternoster lift system, and a fully-furnished office for the boss that can be on every floor. The elevator office was commissioned by the Bata shoe founder Jan Antonín Baťa. It measures 6 x 6 meters, is equipped with a separate alarm device and even has a sink.
The washbasin puzzled Scott until he learned how it functions. Scott says in the video: “This elevator was built by Otis, the American elevator company, for Jan Antonín Bata, the head of the company. It does have a few extra features: two telephones, one for local calls and one for international; plus separate lighting and air conditioning….But the bit that surprised me was the sink. How is there hot and cold running water, and a drain, in a moving elevator?”
Scott learns that it’s a simple tank system with water. There’s a water tank above and a wastewater tank below and “every so often maintenance would fill that one and empty that one because sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.”
Scott says there was a story that the elevator office was the boss’s way to keep an eye on workers on each floor but that’s a myth. He suggests it was built maybe for privacy and efficiency. Whatever the reason, it’s a really interesting feature of the building which is now a heritage landmark.
Sadly, Baťa never got to use his elevator office. In 1939 war broke out in Europe and Baťa escaped the continent with his family. Now the office is part of a shoe museum of the company.