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European Themeroute | Industrial Architecture

The continuous improvement in the processing of iron and concrete during the Industrial Revolution opened up new and previously undreamt-of potentials for architects and engineers. Architectural potentials increased with the use of iron, whose quality continuously improved during the Industrial ... more

Icon: Industrial ArchitectureON THE HISTORY OF INDUSTRIAL ARCHITECTURE

The continuous improvement in the processing of iron and concrete during the Industrial Revolution opened up new and previously undreamt-of potentials for architects and engineers.

Architectural potentials increased with the use of iron, whose quality continuously improved during the Industrial Revolution. Using iron and glass it was possible to construct buildings like the translucent Palm House in Kew Gardens (1848) and the even more famous "Crystal Palace" built by Joseph Paxton in 1851. Paxton used prefabricated panes of glass with iron or wooden structural supports: a forerunner of the standard industrial buildings in the 20th century.

A second new material used by architects from 1867 onwards was reinforced concrete, a compound material first developed by a French gardener called Joseph Monier for garden tubs. Thanks to steel reinforcement bars or fibres integrated into the concrete to take up the stress and resist compression, it became possible to construct gigantic cantilever domes from the resulting compound. The start of the 20th century saw a steady increase in the amount of factory buildings, bridges and houses built of reinforced concrete.

Around this time the contrast between engineers and architects – between functional building and building art - came to a head. During the 19th century the profession of "civil engineer" had developed in Great Britain. This was a person who was not only versed in engineering above and below the ground, but also in factory engineering equipment. One of its most prominent representatives was Sidney Stott, who began his career by building multi-storey spinning mills in the Manchester region, and was later responsible for building textile factories in the border region around north-west Germany and the Netherlands.

As a reaction to this, more traditional architects preferred to refer back to the craft qualities and building arts of the mediaeval age. At the end of the 19th century the arts and craft movement exerted considerable influence in Great Britain; and in France, Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-Le-Duc analysed Gothic construction principles. "Jugendstil" flourished above all in Germany and Austria – even in industrial buildings like the engine house in the Zollern colliery in Dortmund.

At the start of the 20th century a group of committed architects got together in Germany with a common idea of combining artistic design with modern materials and functional construction. The pioneer was a man named Peter Behrens, who served on the artistic advisory committee of the gigantic AEG power company from 1907 onwards. In Berlin he constructed a turbine factory from concrete, steel and glass. Functionally it was a long open production building with windows stretching to the roof; and yet it was designed with a feeling for tradition, with massive corners and powerful pillars.

His colleague, Walter Gropius, further developed this concept in 1911 in the form of the "Fagus works", a shoe last factory in Alfeld. He designed the complete facade with glass windows filled with thin iron frames supported by narrow brick mullions. In this way he was able to give the building an impression of transparency and lightness. The corners of the administration building have since become an icon in modern architecture: they consist completely of glass windows without corner pillars, because Gropius shifted the structural supports to the inside of the house. Using this as a starting point he was able to develop an uninterrupted expanse of clear glass known as the "curtain wall", one of the most influential forms of architecture in the 20th century.

The most radical solution in industrial building was invented in the USA. In 1908 Albert Kahn built a factory near Detroit for the Ford motor works which was absolutely suitable for conveyor-belt work: a long hall at ground level, in which all manufacturing steps could be conducted in sequence, and cars could be put together from pre-pressed pressed steel parts in a short amount of time. The building could be extended with new modules when required.

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ERIH Anchor Points

Petite-Rosselle | France

The sheer size of the central tip is enough to ...

Parc Explor Wendel
F 57540 Petite-Rosselle, France

Alfeld (Leine) | Germany

Why is it that a boot-last factory in rural ...

Fagus Factory World Heritage Site
Hannoversche Strasse 58
31061 Alfeld (Leine), Germany

Dortmund | Germany

Angle towers and gables with battlements, ...

Zollern II/IV Colliery LWL Industrial Museum
Grubenweg 5
44388 Dortmund, Germany

Essen | Germany

Zollverein is the meeting place for past, ...

Zollverein Mine and Coking Plant World Heritage Site
Besucherzentrum Zollverein Zeche Zollverein Schacht XII Gebäude A 14 / Kohlenwäsche
Gelsenkirchener Str. 181
45309 Essen, Germany

Friedrichshafen | Germany

'Flying cigars', 'luxury liners of the air', ...

Zeppelin Museum
Seestrasse 22
88045 Friedrichshafen, Germany

Peenemünde | Germany

Peenemünde was once the embodiment of high-tech ...

The Peenemünde Historical Museum
Im Kraftwerk
17449 Peenemünde, Germany

Carbonia | Italy

Carbone, the Italian word for coal has given ...

Italian Centre for Coal Mining Culture at Geological Mining Park of Sardinia
Centro Italiano della Cultura del Carbone
Grande Miniera di Serbariu
09013 Carbonia, Italy

Cedegolo | Italy

How does a drop of water transform into ...

Museum of Hydroelectric Energy
Museo dell'energia idroelettrica
Via Roma 48
25051 Cedegolo, Italy

Cruquius | Netherlands

King William I of the Netherlands had a choice ...

Haarlemmermeermuseum De Cruquius
Cruquiusdijk 27
2142 ER Cruquius, Netherlands

Lemmer | Netherlands

A celebration of technology – that's at the ...

Ir. D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station World Heritage Site
Ir. D.F. Woudagemaal
Gemaalweg 1
8531 PS Lemmer, Netherlands

Maastricht | Netherlands

How did industrialization affect the cities of ...

Sphinx Quarter | Sphinx Passage
Sphinxkwartier
Fenikshof 1
6211 AX Maastricht, Netherlands

Ulft | Netherlands

Are you ready for action? The innovation centre ...

DRU Industrial Park
CIVON Innovatiecentrum
Hutteweg 24
7071 BV Ulft, Netherlands

Tyssedal | Norway

According to the Norwegian writer, Frode ...

Kraftmuseet. Norwegian Museum of Hydropower and Industry
Kraftmuseet. Norsk vasskraft- og Industristadmuseum
Naustbakken 7
5770 Tyssedal, Norway

San Martín del Rey Aurelio | Spain

How does it feel to be a miner? In Pozo Sotón, ...

Soton Mine
Pozo Soton
Linares, AS-17
33950 San Martín del Rey Aurelio, Spain

Terrassa | Spain

The most eye-catching feature of the Vapor ...

Catalonian Museum of Science and Industry
Museu nacional de la Ciéncia i de la Tècnica de Catalunya (mNACTEC)
Rambla d’Ègara 270
08221 Terrassa, Spain

Istanbul | Turkey

Broad daylight pours in through large-scale ...

santralistanbul Museum of Energy
Eski Silahtarağa Elektrik Santrali
Kazım Karabekir Cad. No: 2 Eyüp
34060 Istanbul, Turkey

Member Sites ERIH Association

Hornu | Belgium

Coal mining at St Ghislain and Hornu, 8 km W of ...

Grand Hornu World Heritage Site
Rue Sainte-Louise 82
7301 Hornu, Belgium

Bendorf-Sayn | Germany

The casting hall in the Gothic style at the ...

Sayner Hütte Iron Works
In der Sayner Hütte 4
56170 Bendorf-Sayn, Germany

Bochum | Germany

This impressive hall was built as an exhibition ...

Hall of the Century Bochum
An der Jahrhunderhalle 1
44793 Bochum, Germany

Braunsbedra | Germany

Slender, pointed gable windows and a rosette in ...

Pfännerhall Central Workshop
Grubenweg 4
06242 Braunsbedra, Germany

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