saai | Archive for Architecture and Engineering

Digital Collection Egon Eiermann

Handkerchief factory Lauffenmühle KG
1949-1950, Extension 1958-1962


Handkerchief factory Lauffenmühle KG

Egon Eiermann started planning the handkerchief factory with its boiler plant and porter's lodge in the summer of 1949, after the Lauffenmühle spinning mill had decided an Blumberg as the location of its new branch operation.

His starting point was the requirement to construct extremely weil and evenly lit weaving rooms with a constant, high room temperature and a humidity of at least 70 percent. He dispensed deliberately with the sawtooth design customary in industrial construction because it would have involved too many disadvantages in view of the severe cold and heavy snowfall in the Black Forest in winter. He designed the production building as a hall, while the weaving room on the upper floor was fully air-conditioned with artificial light on the lines of the American textile industry's "dark factories." As Eiermann was unable even to imagine "building a room with no connection with the outside world," he included a narrow band of windows at eye level.

To reduce the construction time, the first and second floors were built using different methods. The ground floor, housing offices, workshops, preproduction, storage, and common facilities, is laid out in eight rows of struts. Its walls consist of prefabricated concrete slabs; the supporting framework is a reinforced concrete skeleton. For the second floor, which was to be largely free of supports so as to house the looms, Eiermann used a steel structure prefabricated in parallel for assembly immediately after completion of the shell. The external supports between which the structural frame is spanned stand free of the façade and are reinforced by sheet steel guttering.

The exterior of the two-story factory, which is 112 meters long and 50 meters wide, is most distinctive, with its staircases at the gable ends and its low-pitched roof. In contrast to the ground floor with its many windows and black ceramic tile cladding, the exterior of the upper floor is clad in white corrugated asbestos cement sheeting, interrupted only by the narrow band of windows. In harmony with the pale blue supports that lend rhythm to the long sides, the building makes an extremely lightweight, almost filigree impression.

The handkerchief factory attracted attention far and wide, and its effect especially on the younger generation of architects was like that of a clarion call for a new architecture. It carried conviction, for one, by virtue of its functionality, its simple and precise form derived from the structural design, and its clear outline, and for another, by virtue of its balanced proportions, its exciting use of materials, and the way in which it is worked out in detail.

In 1951 Egon Eiermann wrote in the architectural journal Baukunst und Werkform that "there seems to me to be no need to find the Blumberg weaving mill beautiful. I would be pleased if it were feit to be right, given that far too many things that have led to its form are derived from technical considerations. But the endeavor to be right and consistent in everything is definitely the starting point for a correspondence that we then, and in the final analysis, describe as harmony and as a concept of what is beautiful."

Birgit Nelissen

"Egon Eiermann 1904-1970. Architect and Designer", Ed. Annemarie Jaeggi, Hatje Cantz: Ostfildern-Ruit, 2004, p. 151

Project-specific information

Project Handkerchief factory Lauffenmühle KG
Persons involved
  • Egon Eiermann und Robert Hilgers, Architekturbüro
  • Lauffenmühle KG, Bauherr*in
Project period 1949-1950, Extension 1958-1962

Object-specific information

Typology Industriekomplex, industrial complexes; Fabrik, factories (structures)

Site-specific information

Country Deutschland
City Blumberg