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Industrial Architecture


INDUSTRIAL ARCHITECTURE. This article is con cerned with the design of contemporary buildings in which manu facture, purchase, sale, exchange or transport of commodities is carried on, or the financing of business enterprises is negotiated. Architecturally, it represents the most important developments of the early loth century, which is primarily an age of industry. The number, mass and height of factories, office buildings, stores, etc., have increased, and their design has improved, more than could have been deemed possible at the close of the last century. The reader may also well consult the article ARCHITECTURE; a compre hensive list of related articles in this work appears under the head ing ARCHITECTURAL ARTICLES.

The birth of the industrial age towards the middle of the I9th century coincides with discovery of iron to be used for machinery and transport. Iron and industry, material for machinery and pro duction by machinery, are implicit in each other. Their joint con ception, namely the conception of "technique," was the symbol of a new age, of a new generation. That generation regarded industrialism as more or less their own creation, as some mag nificent weapon forged for private use, as something national rather than international, fighting competitors both at home and abroad. There resulted from all this a sharp contrast between the lifeless monotony of their factories and the unproductive swagger of their administrative buildings and offices.

The World War marked the end of this first stage of develop ment. The economic and social results of the war produced what was the beginning of a fundamental change of attitude. Indus trialism began to be regarded in a clearer perspective and the essential principles of its activity to be recognized; that is, its cultural possibilities and the necessity of adjusting it to some world-embracing scheme. Hitherto science has regarded the two conceptions, material and energy, as separate from each other; we recognize to-day that they are merely different conditions of a single primary element. The modern engineer therefore is aban doning the old mechanistic theory of dead material and is again coming to believe in vitalism as the principle to which he is obliged to render service. Machinery, which till now has been the ready tool of a dead exploitation, is becoming the constructive element in a new and living organism. Machinery was born as a necessary by-product of development, and at the very moment when the need for it arose. The essential task of machinery is to satisfy, to co-ordinate, and to control the mutual rela tions between population and increased production, between industrialization and increased consumption of human material. In this way machinery can be regarded both as a symbol of over ripe decay and as an element of a new life which is capable of ordering itself afresh.

Through the discovery of mechanical potentialities, men and cities, countries and continents have become directly inter-depend ent. Each knows the other, each requires the other. This universalization of requirements is complete : never was fashion so internationally authoritative as to-day. Social distinctions are diminished, abolished; national distinctions wear each other away, cancel each other out; a supra-national point of view is formed; isolated particularities, the result of geography, climate and race, are merged in the whole. In this way the spirit of man is freed from the narrowness of the Middle Ages. No longer is the Earth a gloomy corridor, it is living reality, and a spiritual, as opposed to a material fulfillment. Reason and inspiration, the earthly and the heavenly, are at the same moment implicit in it. Thus the traditional conception of God is changed; belief and doctrine find a new basis in a conception which is at once broader and more universal than any hitherto known, and calculated to absorb those antitheses. Individualism and Collectivism, Capitalism and Socialism, divest them of their dogmatic character, and achieve a final compromise. The individual is the "first servant" of the general ; the general is the basis on which leaders of men work. In other words, the new world-conception will only be shaped by a fusion of the dogmas of materialism and idealism.

As applied to the domain of architecture this realization means that pure calculation and pure inspiration when considered alone are without roots, but by their fusion Industrialism is freeing itself from materialistic limitations. The gloomy and desolate factory of older days is becoming a temple of labour, a shrine of creative reality. This affective revolution must, if it is sincere, express itself in form, and in convincing form. It coincides with the revolutionary discovery of new material for construction, of iron and reinforced concrete. The new methods of construction are leading to a revolution in the whole practice of architecture, since the application to building of iron construction with its scientific principles and its static calculus is supplanting the traditional theory of construction on the load and support prin ciple by the principle of hinged construction of the girders. The first iron girder represented a solution of an architectural problem no less important than that by which the middle ages replaced the classic formula by the invention of vaulting. But for cen turies the human eye has been accustomed to deduce the solidity of a building from the harmony of its horizontal and vertical constituents. It is thus obvious that we are making some demand on human comprehension, and one which can only gradually be satisfied, when we ask people to transfer their sense of statics from the traditional principle of load and support to the archi tectural methods employed in iron construction. The first archi tectural experiments with rolled iron date back to the middle of the i9th century, to that amazing production, the Crystal Palace in London.

Industrial Architecture

Structural technique, and architectural expression simultane ously achieved a common basis when the World War enormously increased industrial production both quantitatively and qualita tively. We are to-day on our guard against wastage of human labour even as we avoid the wastage of material which was inseparable from the older methods. We rationalize a man's capacity for work even as we rationalize our bricks and mortar. They are both so much raw material. We render building an industrial production, we render the craft of building an industry of building. We thereby eliminate the contradiction between human efficiency and machine work by regarding both as a law of material and ideal self-preservation. Only by such means can the way be opened for a homogeneous form, by which the logic of our new materials can be uniformly applied to industry, trans port and building. Since the products of industry, owing to the clarity and precision of their shape, are the most authentic evi dence of the new capacity for form, since our modern means of communication are the purest symbols of the spirit and pulse of the age, so also must industrial building, regarded as architectural production, draw its sustenance from the same soil as has given birth to the forms and shapes of technical production. Thus it is industrial construction which is leading the way towards a new style of architecture. It was industrialism that invented, or, more correctly, necessitated, our new material: it was industrialism also that called into being the means and localities of production. It is industrialism therefore which has imposed on the craft of building its definitive tasks, from the first primitive workshop up to the large factory of the modern industrial corporation. Industrialism has thus progressed beyond its original material aims, and has become at once the womb and the nurse of a new development which will carry us over from the death of the civilization of the i 9th century to the emergence of a fresh form of creative culture. This development is based upon a uniform material need and upon a uniform spiritual attitude. It is supra-national and already carries with it as its symbol the elements of a new conception of style. (E. MEN.)

material, building, construction, production, machinery, iron and industrialism