By Sharon Jones
Ever since William Blake waxed about “dark, satanic mills” factory owners have had an image problem. Factories aren’t what we usually think of as works of art. Rather, they’re the epitome of industrial ugliness, and everything we hate about the modern world.
But that would be tarnishing all factories with a single brush. Most factories are ugly. But some are actually surprisingly attractive. Here are some of the most beautiful factories based on interior and exterior design.
The Van Nelle Factory, Rotterdam, Netherlands
To look at the Van Nelle Factory in Rotterdam, you’d think it had been built in the late 20th century. The curved glass and steel construction give the factory the appearance of being a very modern building indeed. But amazingly, the building was constructed in 1925 and, as such, was decades ahead of its time.
The factory was originally built to process tea and tobacco from the East. The designers wanted to improve conditions for the workers at the factory. (Factories up until then had been mostly lit by artificial light and were breeding grounds for disease). And so they started playing around with ways to increase the amount of light entering the building. They did this by using curved sheet glass which was very expensive at the time. And they made sure that there were areas where workers could get out and go for a walk. Now the factory is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Anheuser-Busch, Newark, USA
Anheuser-Busch is a brewery with a difference. Back in 1996, the designers of the factory wanted to make something special. The plant in New Jersey was set to be the business’s first. As a result, they wanted it to have historical appeal. The firm hired carpenters for the polished wooden steps and commercial painters for the iconic white railings. This created the perfect setting for the main brewing area. And it gave the factory the look of a library rather than a factory floor.
The factory is also famous for its giant eagle sign. The Eagle, as it is known, is animated and appears to fly. It’s located more than 250 feet atop of the brewery and is visible from Newark International Airport.
Lockheed Martin Factory, Fort Worth, USA
Lockheed Martin’s factory makes this list, not because it’s beautiful, but because of what it represents. The factory was first established in 1940 to deal with the needs of the second world war. Since then the factory has grown to epic proportions. Now dozens of jets line up to be worked on. And on any given day, thousands of workers toil to each machine.
The Lockheed Martin complex has more than 8 million square feet of factory space. And today, much of that space is used to work on the world’s most advanced fighter jets. Here you can find the spirit of WW2 deeply embedded in the culture and the atmosphere. This is the place you go if you want to protect and to serve.