Built from 1911 to designs by Adolf Meyer and Walter Gropius, the subsequent star architect of the Bauhaus school, the Fagus Factory is widely regarded as the first truly modernist structure. 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.
The architects gave the complex, which was home to an ordinary medium-sized manufacturer, a look that completely defied convention. The functionalist factory complex was completed in three phases from 1911 onwards. Gropius was able to use the ground plans that had already made by the architect Eduard Werner. Each individual building has a style befitting its purpose: the warehouse, for instance, is a solid, timber-beamed structure, while the glass-fronted workshop 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, elegant and futuristic-looking factory 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, continues to this day. However, these are no longer made of beechwood – fagus is Latin for beech tree. Plastic has been used since the 1970s. The 3,000m² Fagus-Gropius exhibition in the production area is a popular attraction. It explores the company's history and World Heritage status, along with the history of Bauhaus, shoe fashions, nature and technology, and the people at Fagus. Walter Gropius' building has since become firmly established in the cultural scene of the Alfeld region, Hannover and beyond.
Fagus-Gropius exhibition: 10am to 4pm daily
Fagus gallery with temporary exhibitions: 10am to 4pm daily
Public guided tours: Sundays at 10.30am
Fagus Factory in Alfeld is part of the 'Earthly treasure and architecture' UNESCO route. Other stops on the route are:
UNESCO World Heritage sites: