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  • Iron constructions for factory buildings in Berlin in thenineteenth and early twentieth century

    Paradoxically iron constructions which were decisive

    for the development of Berliner metal and metal toolindustries were seldomly and only gradually appliedfrom 1837 through 1870 for the erection of shops andfactories, at that often in combination with wooden

    elements of construction. (The oldest industrialbuilding of Germany, the foundry assembly hall builtby C. G. Langhans (1825), is not in Berlin). The first

    cast and wrought iron weight carrying structure forutilitarian buildings in Berlin was constructed for thestorehouse of the Schickler' sche Zuckersiederei(1835) by F. Hesse, after having visited England, and

    the first inner iron skeleton construction was erectedby L. Persius and L. Dannenberger on the

    Mhlendammbridge (1844-48).Essential for the use of iron constructions was the

    challenge of fire protection. The conflagrations ofl831 and 1838 which destroyed the Factory ofCockerill and the Dammmhlen, and the fire whichravaged the opera (1843) gradually set off more andmore the use of the new building material iron in theBerliner construction engineering. As early as 183 1fireproof iron roofings were built for steam boilershops. All the same iron constructions had been built

    abroad much before that, for instance structuralsystems for milis and storehouses in England. A1so

    market halls were erected with iron elements. But foreconomical reasons the building material iron wasonly used for Berliner shops and factories by the 40's.

    The late works of the architect K. F. Schinkel,

    such as the Bauakademie (1831-35) and the

    Miran Mislin

    Packhofspeicher (1835) served partly as model forthe emerging Berliner industrial architecture. Bothbuildings have been cited in the literature of thehistory of architecture as landmarks of construction.They were looked upon as anticipation of serial

    building as well as forerunners of modero skeleton

    and frame constructions (Ausstellungskatalog 1981).K. F. Schinkel had experienced impulses fromEnglish factories which he had investigated during

    his study trip to England 1826 (Riemann 1986). TheEnglish stripped down, utilitarian architecture ofwarehouses and docks were though not taken intoaccount by Schinkels followers, although a newcritical point of architecture and construction had

    been achieved with the Albert-Docks in Liverpool(184l~50). The early English iron constructions

    infIuenced the construction of industrial architectureand railway station building s in Berlin though also byfirst hand information (Frhauf 1991 ).

    In the following a selection of iron constructionelements, columns, roof constructions and fIoorstructural systems are going to be displayed, toillustrate the specific development in Berlin.


    The slender iron cast columns gradually got carriedout in Berlin since the 40's, partly because theunbreakable wooden counterparts in warehouses and

    factories needed a diameter 01'0,50 cm. Normally the

    Proceedings of the First International Congress on Construction History, Madrid, 20th-24th January 2003, ed. S. Huerta, Madrid: I. Juan de Herrera, SEdHC, ETSAM, A. E. Benvenuto, COAM, F. Dragados, 2003.

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    large supporting capitals carried two beams as joist(for instance: industrial courts at Bethanien-Damm59, Leuschner Damm 9, WaldemarstraBe 27). The

    architect L. Hesse proposed for the above cited fire-proof storehouse building also cast iron hollow

    columns for all the tour stories, following Englishmodels. The beams and joists were performed thoughin wood. The stories rested on three rows of columnswith a diameter of 18, 3 cm, 15,7 cm and 13 cm, thewall thickness being l,3 cm. Die lower columns hadto carry a compressive stress of approx. I 600 kg,having a weight of approx. 260 kg each. (fig. 1).

    Chronologica11y the columns of Hesses' storehousebuilding were followed up by shops and factories for A.

    . 1~/.








    Figure 1Storehouse for he Schicklcr'sche Zuckersiederei. 1835,details of he construction


    Borsig (1837-40, ]844 and 1861) in Bcrlin, howeveronly tor groundfloor assembly halls. The mastercarpenter G. Schamweber designed cast iron columnsfor the saw tooth roof hall of the carpet weaving miliPreatorius & Protzen at the Engelufer (1854). Thesecolumns had at the height of the transmission roller flatfixed cast p]ates which served as basis for the brackets.(fig. 2) Likeweise the smithy shop of F. A. Egells at the

    ChausseestraBe 2 was erected with hollow cast ironco]umns (1851), following experiments in the assemblyshop where iron supports with a height of over 5,76 m

    had been built and the construction of a two storiedadministration building was breadthwise bridged overby a row of columns.

    In the years 1844-48 the Royal Milis at theMhlendamm were erected with an inner ironske]eton construction. Hollow columns wjth a

    diametre of approx. 36,5 cm up to 20 cm were usedfrom the ground to the t100r carrying in the transverseand longitudinal direction fish belly shaped railwaymetals above the capita]s (Rothe 1849).

    Leaving aside the cast iron coIumns of the saw

    tooth roof hall of W. Borchert at the Kochstral3e 30

    Figure 2Carpet weaving mili, 1857, saw tooth roof

  • Iron Constructions for factory buildings in Berlin 1441

    Figure 3

    Locomotive assembly hall A. Borsig, 1844, latticed columns

    built in 1866, the most outstandig conSlructions withiron columns before 1880 that should be mentionedwere the low buildings o' the Royal Artillerie shopsat Spandau and the railway shops o' the RoyalEastern Railway.

    Also the 'amous 'actories o' L. Loewe at theHollmannstraBe 32 (1870-1882), just like the grindingdepartment and the assembly hall at the HuttenstraBe

    17-20 (1896-98), were erected with iron columns. Inthe same way the seven stories o' the Ermeler-Tobacco 'actory at the BreitenstraBe 1I (1877-78)rested on rows of cast iron columns with a diametreof 15 cm up to 42 cm.

    Cast iron columns were used for shops andassembly halJs up to the 90's, 'or instance at the

    Kappler'sche factory 'or mill building at thePrinzenallee 75-76 (1890), at the industrial court atthe AdalbertstraBe 70 (1898), at the dyeworksSchwendy at the Kpenicker StraBe 7a (1894), andeven at the mounting shops Scha'er & Walcker at the

    LindenstraBe 18-19.

    Riveted and screwed wrought iron columns were inuse in Berlin 'or industrial architecture only after 1890.The supports were assembled to 1, L, and E profileswhich were held together by cross-shaped or diagonalflat irons. In this manner the assembly shops o' C.Flohr, at the Chausseestral.\e 28, and o' L.Schwartzkopt'f at the ChausseestraBe 20, both machineshops o'L. Loewe (1895 and 1897) at the Huttenstral.\e17, and at the Wiebestral.\e which were tom down in

    1994, showed these latticed columns. Also the foundry

    o' A. Borsig at Berlin-Tegel (1896-97), just like theboiler plant at the same place (1896-98), and thelocomotive hall (1900) were erected with latticedcolumns. (fig. 3) The AEG machine factory at theFeldstraBe- and Ackerstral.\e (1896-98), the AEGturbine halJ at the Berlichingenstral.\e (1908), and theAEG machine shops at the BrunnenstraBc 107a were'urnished with steel columns, often with a rectangularcross section. (fig. 4).

    In the early phase o' industrialization (1808-40) it

    was possible to find out the reaction, the hending

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    Figure 4

    AEG VoltastraSe 8-29, 1911, steel columns

    moment as well as lateralloading and shearing forcesof weight-carrying structures analytically and partlyrelying on the parallelogram of forces. The tabular

    data for strength tests of different materials and theirbest cross section allowed every academically orpractically trained master builder or master craftsman

    to define the dimensions for roof structures and floorconslructions, iron colunms and masonry walls.

    In the 60's it was possible to determine the crosssection of iron girders by calculating the secondmoment and the section moment. Stress transfer ofthe beam support and frame work truss which wasoften used for industrial buildings could be estimatedby the Ritter'sche method and following the rules of

    graphical statics by C. Culmann.

    For the first time static stability had to be provenaccording to public announcement from August, 2nd

    1864. Paragraph 14 of the announcement asked forall iron cast construction elements to be in suchdimensions as to garantee under continuous stress anabsolute stability of 2,5 kg/per 2 mm2 and a relativestability of 5 kg/per 2 mm 2, and for wrought iron a

    stability of 7 kg/per 2 mm 2. The static calculationsand lhe garantee for iron constructions were furnishedby the contracting firms for iron constructions.



    According to commentaries of L. Klasens the architectL. Hesse also designed the first saddleback roof with

    the building material of wrought iron in Prussia forthe already above mentioned storehouse (Klasen1876). The construction of the roof resembled a

    wooden construction with double-posts-roof,however did not take into calculation loads due towind and snow. The placing of the bowstring girder,rafters and struts to eleminate the arch trust followedthe French wrought iron constructions, foremost themarket hall of Magdalena in Paris (AllgemeineBauzeitung 1838).

    The roof construction of the machine shop of A.Borsig at the ChausseestraJ3e (1844) also followed the

    model of the triple roof of the Magdalena market hall.For the span of 16,75 m a triangular system withrafters and beams measuring 22,5 cm