Industry and Technology
Turbinenhalle, Huttenstraße 12-16, Tiergarten; 1908-09 by Peter Behrens and Karl Bernhard, expansion 1939-40 by Jacob Schallenberger and P. Schmidt; administration building, around 1956 by AEG-Baubüro (AEG Construction Bureau)
A picture of the turbine building can be found in any good architectural manual. It is considered to be the beginning of modern industrial architecture in Germany. Beginning in 1908, AEG founder Emil Rathenau commissioned its construction to house the production of its ultra-modern turbines. Within a few short years, AEG had ascended from the inception of power supply to world-class status and was among the few companies at the forefront of technical development. This, too, was to be reflected in its entire image to the outside world. Rathenau was the first to apply the utmost in marketing strategies, commissioning the artist and self-taught architect Peter Behrens to design all electrical products for the company, such as electric arc lamps, fans and electric boilers, and, starting with the turbine building, also the architecture of all of the factories.
The turbine building consists entirely of steel, glass and concrete, the modern materials of industrial construction. Rather than hide the advanced technology and new kinds of production methods in the interior as was the former style, the outer shell instead was to follow from of these advancements and express them. The result is evident in the stern, clean lines and the renunciation of all ornamentation. But Behrens also rendered the building in the manner of a monumental temple in order to express the magnificence of production. He transformed simple materials into a dignified, powerful form. Although the bent gables of the frontal façade and side pylon consist of nothing more than a few centimeters of concrete over an iron framework, in combination with the glazing they have the effect of a refined, stately façade. By contrast, the area between the supports of the elongated façade is entirely of glass. The slight incline of the corner pylon and lateral inward glazing grant the structure a dynamic character in the context of the roof's projection and the precise sequence of the side supports.