Built from 1911 to designs by Adolf Meyer and Walter Gropius, the star architect of the Bauhaus school, the Fagus Factory is widely regarded as the first truly modern structure.
The architects gave the complex, which was home to an ordinary medium-sized manufacturer, a look that completely defied convention. Typical of the Neues Bauen style, the glass and steel facade and the huge, wrap-around corner windows free of supports lend the building an elegant feeling of lightness.
Since 1911 the functionalist factory complex was erected in three phases. Each individual building has a style befitting its purpose: the warehouse, for instance, is a solid timber frame construction, while the glass-fronted production hall lets in plenty of light for optimum working conditions. Gropius' design with unsupported corners comprised exclusively of windows marked the beginning of the modern trend for skeleton construction.
This timeless factory, now under preservation order, continues to serve its original purpose a hundred years on, and is now regarded as a triumph of 20th century industrial architecture. Production, including of Fagus lasts for the shoe industry, has continued uninterrupted in the building since the company was founded by visionary businessman Carl Benscheidt. Fagus is the Latin word for beech – once the most commonly used material in the manufacture of shoes lasts (model feet for shoemakers).
Of particular interest to visitors is the Fagus-Gropius exhibition, which opened during EXPO 2000 and can be found in the centre of the production hall. Walter Gropius' building also doubles as a venue for exhibitions, concerts and other events and has become firmly established in the cultural calendar of Alfeld and the wider region.