Before Germany’s Bauhaus found its first footing in Weimar, there was the Fagus-Werk in Alfeld.
The Fagus factory building is looked upon as the first building in the world for the modern architectural age, and is the predecessor to the elegant 1926 Bauhaus headquarters building in Dessau. Fagus company founder Karl Benscheidt commissioned architect and future Bauhaus founder, Walter Gropius, to create and build a shoe-making factory as an artistic project. Gropius and his collaborator Adolf Meyer stuck with working floor-plans by architect Eduard Werner, and set their sights on new exterior and interior designs. Completed in 1911, the factory’s office building set a new standard for 20th-century industrial architecture with steel and glass construction and tall unsupported windows at the corners of the building.
“Fagus” is Latin for “beech tree”, and shoemaking began with shoe lasts or moulds constructed from beech wood, which were sold and distributed around the world to other companies for the productions of shoes. In the 1920s, Benscheidt developed the turning precision-lathe speeding up production, prompting growth and expansion and elevating the company to world’s top producer of shoe lasts. Today, the building is still a working factory: Fagus creates plastic lasts milled by automated machinery to precise specifications for specific designs by shoe companies. Also on-site is GreCon which produces systems for fire-detection and fire-extinguishing in industrial settings. The Fagus factory building was recognized as “unique living monument” and inscribed by UNESCO as World Heritage Site (Welterbe) in 2011.
With a population of over 20-thousand people, Alfeld is located in the German federal state of Lower Saxony. The town’s reach by train is 30-minutes from Hannover or 40-minutes from Göttingen, after which is a short 5- to 10-minute walk from Alfeld(Leine)1 train station to the entrance of the Fagus/GreCon complex. Visitors can walk around the working factory site, stop at the World Heritage Site Visitor Centre, sit in the neighbouring café for coffee or tea, and visit the museum dedicated to the building’s origins, the building’s century-long history of shoe-making, and a general history of footwear.
Walter Gropius and others would move to Weimar to establish a centre of art, design, thought, and attitude for Bauhaus in 1919, eight years after inauguration of the Fagus-Werk.
Die Baukunst soll ein Spiegel des Lebens und der Zeit sein. (Architecture should be a mirror to life and its time.) – Walter Gropius.
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On 5 July 2015, UNESCO awarded World Heritage status to two sites in Hamburg: the Speicherstadt (Warehouse District) and the Kontorhausviertel (Office Building District). In the latter are two important brick buildings: Chilehaus and the Sprinkenhof, representative of the construction in the late 19th- and early 20th-century.
The Chilehaus was built by Fritz Höger for client Henry Sloman from 1922 to 1924 in the Kontorhausviertel as a prime example of German expressionist architecture using hard-fired brick. Höger undertook the project for Hamburg merchant and banker Sloman who made his fortune in importing nitrates from Chile. Built entirely to serve and complement the functions of the warehouses in neighbouring Speicherstadt, the Kontorhausviertel was the first dedicated office- and commercial-district on the European continent.
Chilehaus, northwest corner: Niedernstrasse at Depenau
Chilehaus, southwest corner: Pumpen at Messberg
Chilehaus, east ‘prow’: Burchardstrasse
Chilehaus, up the ‘prow’
Kontorhausviertel at night (on Burchardstrasse)
(Click on the arrow-window icon at the upper-left corner of the map below for an explanation of the map symbols.)
I made the photos above on 26 June 2010 and 3 December 2015. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie on fotoeins.com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-biH.