Visit to the former Bata shoe company factory town.
15 Aug 2013
Students from the Architecture RIBA Part 1 BA(Hons) course have the opportunity to revisit a space that was once a thriving industrial community and re-imagine it for use in a twenty-first century context. The factory town, known as Bata-Ville, was created around the Bata shoe company at East Tilbury, Essex as part of their latest project.
Building began on the Bata site in 1933, planned as an orderly grid, and over the next 70 years, the Czechoslovak company became an important part of the local economy. This included an international community which had its own farm, shops, cinema, and sporting facilities with tennis courts and a swimming pool. Houses were built for the workers and play areas were supplied for their children, as were a school and college.
Students develop a sense of how this space was used, the history of Czech Modernism in the 1930s and the community who inhabited and enlivened it. They then investigate architectural ideas through their own engagement with the space. They are asked to devise contemporary uses for the extant buildings, re-imagining a community use for the twenty-first century.
The information resources available allow the students insight into the memories of the people who lived and worked in this community, collected by the Bata Reminiscence and Resource Centre based in East Tilbury Our Faculty of Arts students started their day with a tour of the old factory buildings followed by a look inside the old cinema and then went on a walking tour of the Bata estate, finishing up in the library where they looked at the memorabilia and talked to the volunteers about life and work when Bata was still a thriving community.
All the visiting students are in their second and third years of the Architecture RIBA Part 1 BA(Hons) degree course. Every year, students are given a place to investigate and based on their research and findings, will propose hypothetical architectural proposals for the site.
Lecturer, Alicja Borkowska said: “We are particularly interested in the social aspect of the place and will be asking the students to re-imagine a new use for the factory buildings. The purpose of the visit was to show the students the factory and associated buildings and to give them as much insight as possible into how it is now.
“The Bata Reminiscence and Resource Centre has been invaluable.
“We expect the students will return individually to the site to take further surveys and return to the library to get further information from the centre.”