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1911 – 1925
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Article last edited by AleeshaCallahan on
April 17th, 2013
Fagus Factory Change this
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The Fagus Factory is a shoe last factory in Alfeld on the Leine in Germany and is an important example of early modern architecture. Constructed between 1911-1913, it was Walter Gropius' first commission.
The owner, Carl Benscheidt, commissioned the 10-building factory. It was initially designed by the architect Eduard Werner, with facades designed by Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer. Gropius was 27 years old at the time and enlisted the assistance of Adolf Meyer. Te main construction period was between 1911 to 1913, with additions and interiors being completed later in 1925.
InnovationCarl Benscheidt not only wanted a factory where well-trained workers from the region could fully develop their skills, he also recognised the marketing effect of the steel and glass facade sketched by Gropius: the factory stood right next to the railway line between Hannover and Kassel, “and such an exemplary building,” thus Benscheidt in a letter to Gropius, “can also serve as good advertising at the same time.” He therefore commissioned the Berliners to develop a new concept for the facade – Eduard Werner of Hannover, who had planned the building up to this point, was tasked with the construction.
Icons of "New Construction"
In retrospect, Carl Benscheidt showed excellent intuition with his faith in Gropius’ modern concept of architecture, 15 years before the Bauhaus Dessau (1925-1926), the factory was the advance manifesto of the “New Objectivity.” The buildings were laid out in accordance with the production process that a shoe-last passed through, from delivery of the raw material – wood - to completion, a saw mill, storage depot, drying house and production hall.
DesignWhile the other buildings of this industrial complex, built in three construction phases from 1911 to 1925, are completely adapted to their respective functions – the storage depot is a solid stone building. The production hall with its large glass windows offers ideal lighting for shoe-last production – the three-storey main building of the “Fagus” became an icon of modernity and the transparency it advocated. Its unsupported, fully glassed-in corners represented a departure from Industrial Classicism and mark the beginnings of modern skeleton construction. Gropius and Meyer, who had even the construction site regularly documented by one of the most prominent architectural photographers of the time, contributed to the canonisation of their debut work from the very beginning.
LegacyThe Fagus Factory is today considered as one of the most important industrial structures of modern architecture. The design is examined as a blue-print of the functional design style that later became associated with the Bauhaus. Also the concept of the curtain wall- the glass facade that Gropius featured in his Bauhaus building in Dessau was put into practice here for the first time. Today the entire factory has been renovated and is open to the public.
The Fagus Factory is still in use today and was included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2011.