Industrial modernity. Fagus Factory by Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer

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Walter Gropius, Adolf Meyer.
Carl Benscheidt.
Alfeld an der Leine, Lower Saxony, Germany.


Walter Adolph Georg Gropius was born in Berlin, son and grandson of architects, whose influence led him to study architecture in Munich and Berlin. After completing his studies, he worked in Peter Behrens' practice, to later become independent. Between 1910 and 1915, he worked primarily on the rehabilitation and expansion of Fagus Factory in Alfeld. With its thin metal structures, large glazed surfaces, flat roofs and orthogonal forms, this work was a pioneer of modern architecture.

In addition, Gropius founded the famous Bauhaus School, a design school that taught students to use modern and innovative materials to create buildings, furniture and original and functional objects. He was in charge of it first in Weimar and then in Dessau, from 1919 to 1928.

From 1926, Gropius was intensely devoted to the design of housing blocks, which saw the solution to social and urban problems, inaddition to betting for the racionalization in the construction industry, which would allow to build faster and more economically.

Before the First World War, Gropius was already part of a movement of aesthetic renovation, represented by the Deutscher Werkbund, which aimed to unite art with industrial design.

After the war, Gropius, in his role as director of the Sächsischen Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Arts and Crafts) and Sächsischen Hochschule für bildene Kunst (Superior School of Fine Arts), decides to merge the two schools under the name of "Staatliches Bauhaus "combining their academic goals and adding an architecture section. The building constructed for the school itself is a symbol of the most representative ideas of the Bauhaus: "form follows function".

In 1934 Gropius was forced to leave Germany due to the Nazi agressions suffered by the Bauhaus and his own work. He lived and worked for three years in England moving to America later, where he was professor of architecture at the Harvard Design School. In 1946 The Architects Collaborative, Inc., a group of young architects known as TAC, of which he was responsible of the direction and trainig of the memebers for several years.

Walter Gropius died in Boston in 1969, at the age of 86 years old. His buildings reflect the style of the Bauhaus, with new materials used in their construction and giving them a modern look, unknown at that time. Smooth facades and clear lines, lack of unnecessary decorative elements. This architecture has made of him one of the key leaders of the so-called 'International Style' in architecture.


Adolf Meyer (Mechernich, June 17, 1881 - Baltrum, July 14, 1929) was a German architect. A student and employee of Peter Behrens, Meyer became the office manager of Walter Gropius's office around 1915. This collaboration, which lasted until 1914, resulted in several important 20th-century buildings, such as the Fagus Factory in Alfeld. and the office building and factory for the Deutscher Werkbund (German Federation of Labor) exhibition in Cologne in 1914. When the Gropius office closed, Meyer became the office manager of the steel construction company Breest & Co. in Berlin

In 1919, Walter Gropius brought Adolf Meyer to the Bauhaus in Weimar as an assistant to the architecture department. Here, he ran Gropius' private architecture office and taught technical drawing and construction from 1920 to 1925. In 1924, he was responsible for the compilation and typographic development of the book "A Prototype House", published by the Bauhaus Weimar as the third volume of the Bauhaus Book series.

After the closure of the Bauhaus Weimar on April 1, 1925, Meyer stayed in Weimar as a freelance architect. In 1926, he was represented at the Neue Baukunst exhibition held by the Kunstverein Jena. He also designed several buildings. These include the Gildehall housing estate in Neuruppin in 1925-1926 and the Zeiss Planetarium in Jena in 1925.

On the recommendation of Walter Gropius, Meyer was appointed to the Frankfurt am Main Public Works Board in 1926 and was head of construction consulting in his construction department. At the same time, he was head of structural engineering at the Frankfurter Kunstschule. During his tenure, the city built the coker plant in Gaswerk Ost in 1927 and the Prüfamt office in 1929, as well as the workshops, depot and warehouse for municipal electrical works.



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