Industry and Technology
AEG am Humboldthain
AEG am Humboldthain
Brunnenstraße 111, Wedding; 1896-97 by Franz Schwechten; Alte Fabrik für Bahnmaterial (Old factory for railway materials), 1906-07 by Johannes Kraaz, conversion 1911 by Peter Behrens; Hochspannungsfabrik (High voltage factory), Kleinmotorenfabrik (Small motor factory), Montagehalle für Großmaschinen (Large machine assembly), Neue Fabrik für Bahnmaterial und Tor 4 (New factory for railway materials and gate 4), 1909-12 by Peter Behrens and Karl Bernhard; Erweiterung Montagehalle assembly (Hall expansion),1928 by Ernst Ziesel
The electrical industry was second only to mechanical engineering in its influence on the character of Berlin's industrial development. Beginning in 1890, technical progress in Germany was propelled forward mainly by electrical industry enterprises located in Berlin like AEG, Siemens and OSRAM, which ultimately operated worldwide. Berlin's reputation as "electropolis" was owed primarily to Siemens and AEG. Starting in 1895, within a few years time AEG erected the enormous complex on Brunnenstrasse, representing tremendous production potential by the standards of the day. The Gothic-style Beamtentor ("Officers' Gate") designed by Franz Schwechten in 1896 stands as a reminder of the older, long since dismantled factories. Much in evidence in the factories constructed from 1907 onward is the signature of Peter Behrens, who developed modern architecture and product design as artistic advisor to AEG beginning in that year. The industrial buildings constructed for AEG in the following years according to his design were innovative models with considerable influence on the development of modern industrial architecture.
The Hochspannungsfabrik, constructed of steel framework according to his design, was erected on the western factory site from 1909-10. Composed of a double-bay industrial hall flanked by two multi-story buildings connected by means of an office wing, the compact manufacturing plant displays an austere brick architecture of continuous pillars and large windows accentuated by immense staircase towers. The southwestern view of the hall's façade flanked by staircases, styled to resemble the front of a temple, is one of monumental dignity.
The elongated structure of the Kleinmotorenfabrik (1910-12) dominates Voltastrasse with its long façade. design of robust semi-rounded pillars. Here Behrens raised the pillar façade so frequently used in Berlin's architecture of the period into the monumental. In the Neue Fabrik für Bahnmaterial constructed in 1911-1912 on the lot to the west, Behrens dispensed with a design differentiating between a simple courtyard and a monumental façade; here, both courtyard and façade are constructed of flat pillars framing large windows. This sweeping renunciation of sturdy structuring elements is also characterized by the triple-hinged girder construction (Karl Bernhard) of the Montagehalle für Großmaschinen built in 1911-12 on Hussitenstrasse. With his nearly flush arrangement of bricks, glass and the end surfaces of the steel supports, Behrens introduced a development which was later adopted by the stereometric architecture of New Realism in the 1920s.