Industrial architecture is as much a part of our physical landscape as the high rise commercial buildings, the new residential gems on the block and the ubiquitous malls with their inventive architecture. In fact, industrial architecture is where extensive experimentation happens in the early days when change is setting in.
The industrial revolution brought in the huge monolithic factories, followed by expansion of businesses. During this phase, factories were marked by detached spaces for new administrative offices and additional logistics spaces. Over the last 50 years, industries have moved out of the urban areas and set up shop in open spaces. This phase saw the growth of automation in industries and accordingly the architectural needs of factories changed.
Designing industrial architecture demands an understanding of the specific industry, materials used, its processes, its methods and most importantly, movement of material and transportation within its premises. In most cases, a structural engineer is called in to build an appropriate production area and finish off with a locally relevant wall-cladding and a roof at the top. Natural ventilation and sunlight are always given preference as these keep the running costs of the factory low.
Given the many aspects to be considered while designing a factory and the strict time lines that most clients expect their engineers and architects to work in, the result has often been faceless cement boxes that are passed off as industrial architecture. But in the age of increased commercialization and sustainable manufacturing, the ideas of urban office architecture seem to be slowly but surely making their way through the heavy gates of factories.
Refurbishment of old factories: As factories, built anywhere from 50 to 100 years ago, come in for refurbishment, architects on the job are working to build in a sense of individuality into the existing shell. Glass panels for facades that reflect sunlight, reduce heat absorption, and create magic around the structure in the night light; transparent walls that create a sense of open space and interaction within the manufacturing spaces; innovative forms inspired by nature – executed using locally available resources and materials; building structures that blend into the local topography – are all concepts and strategies being implemented by contemporary architects. The combined effort, as you will see in the pages that follow, is to add a new dimension to industrial architecture.
Trending in industrial architecture: While architects designing residences and urban vertical factories speak of creating living spaces, the modern industrial architects too have been keeping pace. As clients become more sensitive to the environmental protection and happy workers, there is a growing demand for a more caring industrial space as well. Break-out gardens, green roofs, climate-controlled interiors, eco-friendly cooling systems are all becoming the norm for modern factories.
The sheer size of an industrial structure implies its huge impact on the local environment and economy. Sourcing locally made materials for building these structures positively impacts the surrounding economy and goes a long way in reducing the structure’s carbon foot print.