The most eye-catching feature of the Vapor Aymerich, Amat i Jover in Terrassa near Barcelona is doubtless its unique roof. It consists of row upon row of 161 shell-shaped half arches, each with gently curving windows like stylised crests of waves. At first sight the building, designed by the Catalan architect Lluís Muncunill and completed in 1909, does not resemble a cloth factory in the least. The impression from within is a complete contrast. The building houses the National Museum of Science and Technology of Catalonia and welcomes visitors with a large number of historic textile machines. But this is only a part of the exhibition programme. The aim of the museum is to provide visitors with a comprehensive overview of the history of knowledge and technology in Catalonia, and simultaneously to portray the process of industrialisation with all its social and cultural consequences.
The choice of words alone speaks volumes. Vapor would normally indicate steam. But in Catalonia people also understand this to mean a cloth factory, because the pairing of steam engines and the textile industries once seemed to be self evident. Catalonia was one of the first industrialised regions in Europe. The textile industry was particularly rich in traditions because it dated back to the Middle Ages. No wonder then that, in the late 18th century, Barcelona rose for a time to become the leading producer of printed cotton textiles in the whole of Europe. The neighbouring town of Terrassa also developed its own specialised textile industry at an early period. Growth and prosperity were expressed in a representative architectural style characterised by Art Nouveau forms enriched with independent elements. The most important representative of this style was the architect Lluís Muncunill, who designed a huge number of industrial buildings. His Vapor Aymerich, Amat i Jover is generally considered to be one of the most outstanding examples of European industrial architecture. He invented a particularly individual solution to the classic shed roof, on whose saw-toothed shape he bestowed soft contours. The 300 cast iron pillars supporting the roof have two other uses other than their static function. They support the drive shafts that once drove the steam engines, and simultaneously serve as drainpipes for rainwater. The administrative rooms and the boiler house with its steam engine and coal store are directly connected to the factory building. A tour of the museum throws a clear light on the complete process of textile manufacturing and refinement, with the help of original machines. Other major themes deal with power and transport. The museum is the central focus of a network of 25 other industrial monuments in the region.
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mid September to mid June
Tuesday - Friday 9am-6pm
Saturday 10am-2.30pm, 3.30-7.30
Sunday, holidays 10am-2.30pm
mid June to mid September
Tuesday - Sunday 10am-2.30pm