Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Germany : Fagus Factory in Alfeld (2011)

Fagus Factory in Alfeld is a 10-building complex - began around 1910 to the design of Walter Gropius, which is a landmark in the development of modern architecture and industrial design. Serving all stages of manufacture, storage and dispatch of lasts used by the shoe industry, the complex, which is still operational today, is situated in Alfeld an der Leine in Lower Saxony. With its groundbreaking vast expanses of glass panels and functionalist aesthetics, the complex foreshadowed the work of the Bauhaus school and is a landmark in the development of architecture in Europe and North America.

Brief synthesis
Designed in around 1910, the Fagus factory in Alfeld constitutes an architectural complex which foreshadows the modernist movement in architecture. Built by Walter Gropius, it is notable for the innovative use of walls of vast glass panels combined with an attenuated load-bearing structure. It bears testimony to a major break with the existing architectural and decorative values of the period, and represents a determined move towards a functionalist industrial aesthetic.
The Fagus factory in Alfeld establishes several major fundamental aspects of modern functionalist architecture of the 20th century, in particular the curtain wall. It constitutes a homogeneous, territorial and built complex, rationally and completely designed to serve an industrial project. It expresses great architectural unity. The scheme is at once architectural, aesthetic and social, and bears witness to a determination to achieve humanist control of the social and aesthetic changes linked to industrialisation. The interior decorative and functional elements are attuned with the architecture and the social project. They represent one of the first consummate manifestations of industrial design.
Criterion (ii): The Fagus factory in Alfeld illustrates a moment of considerable interchange between different generations of German, European and North American architects, which gave rise to a rational and modernist architecture. It was a site of synthesis of these influences, which were technical, artistic and humanistic; it went on to influence many other architectural works; it was the starting point of the Bauhaus movement.
Criterion (iv): A manifesto of modernity in architecture, the Fagus factory won its designer, Walter Gropius, an international reputation. It exemplifies the innovation of the curtain wall, which optimises both luminosity and lightness. It is a concrete expression of the functionality of the industrial complex in the interest of productivity and the humanisation of the working environment. It incorporates into the scheme the concepts of industrial aesthetics and design.
All ten buildings constituting the Fagus factory have been conserved in their entirety, in their initial ground plans and architectural forms. The factory corresponds with the programme set out by its designers around 1910. No buildings have been added or demolished. The conditions of integrity in terms of layout and exterior architecture have been preserved.
Major repairs and restorations were carried out from 1985 to 2001. They were carried out with great respect for the property with regard to its outstanding testimony to 20th century industrial architecture, which has contributed to the preservation of the conditions of authenticity both as regards architecture and decoration.
Protection and management requirements
The property has been listed as a historic monument since 1946, which is a very early date for an industrial complex. The 1978 Act of the Regional State of Lower Saxony on Historic Monuments and Buildings redefined the terms of its legal protection. The property is managed under the responsibility of its owner, Fagus-Grecon Greten GmbH & Co. KG. The owner acts in concert with the regional and local historic monument conservation authorities, via the property's Steering Committee, which exercises authority with regard to project control and coordination between the various partners involved. The management system consists of a set of maintenance and conservation measures which is regularly updated by the Steering Committee. If major works are required, joint funding is set up between the private sector owner and the regional and national public authorities.

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