fot. Carsten Janssen / cc-by-sa-2.0-de

A shoe factory like a modernist palace. Today it is on the UNESCO list

The Fagus shoe factory in Alfeld is a large industrial complex that was built in the early 20th century. The facility was built to a design by Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer. The architects designed the complex in the spirit of modernism, which was appreciated years later. In 2011, the buildings were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Walter Gropius is an outstanding founder of modernist architecture. Few people know that the Fagus shoe factory is one of his first completed projects. Interestingly, the first building he designed is located in… Poland! It is a granary from 1906, which is located in the village of Jankowo near Drawsko Pomorskie.

The Fagus shoe factory consists of several buildings, the construction of which was spread over the years 1911-1913, and the interiors were completed in 1925. The industrial building was an example of modernity at the time. The steel construction and large glass walls were impressive. Plenty of daylight entered the interior, which was conducive to work.

The founder of the factory was the industrialist Carl Benscheidt, who invited Gropius to work on the project. The investor wanted to get his factory up and running as quickly as possible, and part of production started as soon as a year after construction work began. The large number of orders made it necessary to extend the building with new facilities.

The historic factory building is distinguished by its yellow brick façade. This is the main building, whose characteristic element is a curtain wall of glass and steel. The architects designed glass corners here, which are elegant in appearance and functional. This section houses the offices, which were completed in the mid-1920s. The next two large buildings of the plant are the production hall and the warehouse.

photo by Stephan Werberger,, licence: CC BY-ND 2.0 DEED

A major renovation of the building began in the 1980s, so that it is still in very good condition today. The factory is still in operation today and is frequented by architecture fans from all over the world. Interestingly, in designing the building Walter Gropius was able to convey the ideas that were already germinating in his mind at the time. Gropius founded the famous Bauhaus university only a few years later.


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