Industrial architecture: designers and plans

Industrial buildings are the embodiment of economic relations and production methods in a material form. But they are also the creations of real people, and are therefore a reflection of those individuals’ abilities, ambitions, and ideas about the world. Taking a production process and converting it into a spatial arrangement and into the physical dimensions of a building, choosing the right structure and making sure it’s also economical, and deciding what the structure should look like on the exterior are nonetheless all creative acts, anchored in the culture and society of a time. The first part of this publication summarises what has been written in recent years within the cultural space of Central Europe about industrial architecture and its creators in either Czech or German. We have translated the latter into Czech because traditionally that is the language in which knowledge is disseminated locally, and we have translated both the Czech and German texts into English because we want to share this knowledge more widely. The second part of the publication contains the catalogue for an exhibition held in 2021 at the Gallery of the National Technical Library in Prague under the title Industrial Architecture in Old Plans and New Media. The exhibition was organised to provide an overview of key examples of industrial architecture in the Czech Lands, but beyond that, and more importantly, to present a picture of the process involved in designing industrial architecture, and to do so with the help of the contemporary materials and original plans on show at the exhibition.


Lukáš Beran (ed.), Industriální architektura: tvůrci a plány = Industrial architecture: designers and plans, Praha 2021.

351 pages; in Czech and English; 113 full-page colour and 100 b/w reproductions of plans and period depictions; ISBN 978-80-01-06890-8 / editor Lukáš Beran / texts Franziska Bollerey, Axel Föhl, Michael Hanak, Markus Kristan, Martin Strakoš, Kerstin Renz, Jindřich Vybíral, Jan Zikmund and Lukáš Beran / catalogue entries Lukáš Beran, Jakub Potůček, Martin Strakoš, Jan Zikmund and Michal Horáček / copy editing Irena Lehkoživová / translations Robin Cassling, Tomáš Mařík a Martin Tharp / reviewer Bartosz M. Walczak / design and layout Jan Forejt (Formall) / tuning of images Jiří Klíma (Formall) / production Gabriel Fragner (Formall) / fonts Freight Text, Freight Sans / print PBtisk / published by the Research Centre for Industrial Heritage of the Faculty of Architecture at the Czech Technical University in Prague


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(photos Gabriel Fragner)

Industrial Contexts / place_form_programme (The Architecture of Conversion)

A situation still dominated by demolitions and decaying industrial structures, by a pressure to knock buildings down to free up the property, and by a hunger to obtain space for self-realisation. But with the passage of time, certain qualities have come to be recognised – the meaning of place, the significance of form, the aim of the new programme.
The architecture of conversions of industrial heritage is the outcome and consequence of a search for solutions, a way forward, striking a balance between conservation, the architectural imagination and creative new interventions, and pragmatic recycling and reuse. It is an opportunity to fulfil an ambition, an artistic idea, a business goal. Conversion projects represent a spontaneous effort to preserve what still can be preserved, and an echo of the volatile atmosphere in society, an expression of a relationship to the environment, and a reflection of the more general tendencies in architectural work in a specific and often contentious context.
These are just some of the themes that characterise the conversion projects that were carried out between roughly 2015 and 2020 and were collected for an exhibition that was organised to take place in late 2020 and early 2021. Chronologically they tie in with the exhibitions on the architecture of conversion that focused on the periods of 2000–2005 and 2005–2015‚ and they even tie in with the very first event of this kind, which was held in the 1990s and was devoted to the protection of industrial heritage.


Benjamin Fragner (ed.), Industrial Contexts / place_form_programme (The Architecture of Conversion), Prague 2021.

240 pages; Czech/English; 190 color images and plans; ISBN 978-80-01-06807-6 / editor Benjamin Fragner / with contributions from Jan Zikmund, Jan Červinka / proofreading Irena Hlinková / english translation Robin Cassling / scientific review Petr Urlich / graphic design and typesetting Jan Forejt (Formall) / pre-press Jiří Klíma (Formall) / editing of drawing documentation Jan Kuták / production Gabriel Fragner (Formall) / fonts Acumin, Reckless / manufacturing Formall / print PBtisk / published by the Research Centre for Industrial Heritage FA CTU Prague


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The Quest for Universality: The Contexts of Industrial Architecture in Czechoslovakia 1945–1992

Industrial development in Czechoslovakia after the Second World War occurred on a scale that was singular even on an international level and probably would not have been able to take off without the transformation of economic policy, the construction industry, and architectural design operations. Two main factors influenced the development of industry’s foundations: the changing priorities in the state plan that determined the production programme, and the multiple reorganisations over the years that led to the integration of architectural design and the construction industry into a system responsible for implementing those priorities. The environment in which the new industrial architecture was emerging was, nevertheless, even more complicated – especially given that the significant changes occurring within it were taking place in a somewhat discontinuous manner and in an atmosphere of a constant search for the best options, revisions, and new takes on old reconsiderations of past methods.

The transformation of a modern factory from an individually designed work of technology and architecture into a universal and abstract format was in any case closely interconnected with the integrated system of architectural design and construction that was set up. Thus, the conditions in which the creators of industrial buildings worked – not just architects, but also engineers, urban designers, technologists, and other specialists – also changed. The search for the right architectural solutions for ever more sophisticated technologies usually set out from pragmatic foundations, clearly defined by the content of a commission and by funding and construction possibilities and what kind of engineering technology it was possible to produce.

It is these processes going on in the background that this publication tries to describe. The book has, however, one major fault that cannot be rectified – it is coming to late. Over the past twenty years we have destroyed – through demolitions or inappropriate renovations – dozens of architecturally, structurally, technologically, economically, and regionally valuable factories. A whole layer of our cultural heritage is slowly being lost before we have even had a chance to retrospectively appreciate and understand it. Not only is it being overlooked by architectural historians and conservationists, but attempts to include these factories as already a part of the industrial heritage have come across as hesitant and awkward. These structures are generally lacking in the most sought-out quality – the romance of industrial authenticity. We are not entirely sure what to do with them.

It is not the aim of the book to academically present a chronology of the evolution of industrial architecture in the second half of the 20th century or to be a catalogue of selected factories. It nevertheless seeks to open up topics that have hitherto been overlooked, and to do so even given the risks that this objective logically entails. This is in part why this book is conceptualised as something like a digest of information, a base of details and facts to draw on and to build on.

Summary translated by Robin Cassling


Jan Zikmund, The Quest for Universality: The Contexts of Industrial Architecture in Czechoslovakia, 1945–1992, Prague 2020.

208 pages; Czech/summary in English; 257 images and plans; ISBN 978-80-01-06743-7 / concept, text, graphic design and typesetting Jan Zikmund / foreword Benjamin Fragner / scientific review Petr Kratochvíl, Tomáš Šenberger / copy editing Hubert Guzik / proofreading Irena Hlinková / translation Robin Cassling / treatment of reproductions Jiří Klíma (Formall) / logos vectorization Lucia Mlynčeková / production Gabriel Fragner (Formall) / fonts Carot Sans, Neue Machina, Fira Code / paper Arena Ivory Rough 90 g a 250 g / manufacturing Formall / print Helbich Printers / published by the Research Centre for Industrial Heritage FA CTU Prague


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(photos Gabriel Fragner)

Žižkov Television Tower

The Prague-City Transmitter is the first and last television tower that was built in an urban centre in what was then Czechoslovakia. Construction began towards the end of the communist era (in 1985) and was completed after the Velvet Revolution in 1992. This fact alone had much to do with the negative perception that formed of the tower, which as a product of the communist regime was associated with the devastating demolition and redevelopment of the section of the district of Žižkov in which it is located. But once we free ourselves of these negative connotations, we can start to see the transmitter much in the same light as, for example, English architect Peter Cook did, who regarded it as a fascinating work of high-tech architecture.

While the genesis of the Prague-City Television Transmitter can be traced back to the late 1970s – the tower project itself was preceded at that time by a search for the right location and a number of test studies – this book on the Žižkov Television Tower begins in the 1920s. That was when the first references to television as a technological phenomenon began to appear, and they became more common as television technology grew more advanced. The first person to succeed in transmitting an image long distance was John L. Baird, who called the 1925 machine he performed this with a ‘television’. His device operated on the principle of the mechanical decomposition of an image and was the precursor to the modern electric television that was born in the 1930s. The inventors of camera tubes for scanning and assembling images (Vladimír Zvorykin and Philo T. Fainsworth) contributed to this, and thanks to them it became possible to launch regular television broadcasting. The first to do so was the BBC, which was soon followed by other companies, such as the German Postal Service, which became famous in 1936 for its broadcasts from the Summer Olympic Games in Berlin.

Successes abroad had an energising effect on experts in Czechoslovakia, who in 1935, under the direction of Jaroslav Šafránek, built their own television system. This played a crucial role in the popularisation of television as a medium and contributed to the decision to build a transmitter in Prague, too. One was built in 1938 and it was located in the building of the telephone exchange in Žižkov, next to where the current television tower stands today. However, it was never put into operation. Television broadcasting in Czechoslovakia had its premiere ten years later, and it was another five years before regular television broadcasts were launched. In 1953, when Czechoslovak Television was founded, specialised transmitters and television towers began to be built more systematically. However, it was not long before the creators of these structures started to design them as distinctive works of architecture in their own right. In 1969 the first and most important of such works – the TV tower and hotel on Ještěd Mountain, designed by architect Karel Hubáček – won the prestigious Perret Award from the UIA (International Union of Architects).

The circumstances were slightly different in Prague, where in 1953 broadcasting began from a provisional transmitter on the late 19th-century Petřín Lookout Tower. The city’s hilly terrain made it impossible for the signal from the new Cukrák transmitter to achieve full coverage of the capital, so Petřín continued to be used as a transmitter. At the same time, it was becoming increasingly apparent that one main transmitter had to be built. Architect Václav Aulický was selected to design it. He designed several versions of antenna masts, most notably for two potential locations: Petřín and what is now called Mahler Orchards (the location in Žižkov where the TV Tower would be built). For the first location, every type of structure was tried out, including guyed towers; for the second site, a classic design with one or three cylindrical support structures was suggested. The version that was ultimately selected had three cylindrical support structures, which seemed appropriate for the site where it was to be built, Mahler Orchards. Preparatory work on the construction of the distinctively structured television tower (comprised of three steel pipe structures infilled with a thin layer of concrete, along with three pods – housing the technological equipment and a restaurant) began in 1985. The actual construction of the tower and the adjacent technology buildings, designed by architect Václav Aulický and structural engineer Jiří Kozák, was launched three years later.

Summary translated by Robin Cassling


Václav Aulický – Jakub Potůček (ed.) – Rostislav Švácha, Žižkov Television Tower, Prague 2020.

160 pages; Czech/summary in English; 87 images and plans; ISBN 978-80-01-06328-6 (VCPD FA ČVUT), ISBN 978-80-7551-070-9 (Jonathan Livingston) / authors Václav Aulický, Jakub Potůček (ed.), Rostislav Švácha / scientific review Petr Urlich / proofreading Irena Hlinková / translation Robin Cassling / index of places Jakub Potůček / graphic design and typesetting Jan Zikmund / treatment of reproductions Jiří Klíma (Formall) / production Gabriel Fragner (Formall) / fonts IBM Plex Mono, Technomat / paper Arena Natural Smooth 100 g / canvas Duchesse Metallic / manufacturing and print Formall and Helbich Printers / published by the Research Centre for Industrial Heritage FA CTU Prague and Jonathan Livingston / supported by Hutní montáže, a.s. and Faculty of Architecture CTU Prague


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Noback vs Novák. The Brewery Builders

The transformation from manual to industrial production over the course of the 19th century was a process that affected every sector of the economy. This publication examines the new approach to brewery architecture that emerged in the 1860s and 1870s in connection with the boom the brewing industry went through at the time and looks at the emergence of the first giant industrial breweries. The rapid pace of development that occurred in the first half of the 19th century gradually levelled out in the 1850s, and the first stable industrial brewery designs emerged. The work of early engineers such as Völckner, Krabes, and others who had a hand in codifying the look of industrial breweries in the Czech lands was developed further in the mid-1860s by a new technology office founded by Gustav Noback and Josef Vincenc Novák. Unlike their predecessors, these two engineers were able to practically apply their knowledge in the market and take advantage of a time that was extremely favourable to investments in both old breweries and new greenfield brewery projects. They thereby also had a fundamental impact on the appearance of the Czech landscape, panoramas, and the built-up areas within settlements in the country.

In order to understand the evolution of the engineering firms and project designers that worked for the brewing industry, it is necessary to begin this study on a more general level, to which end the publication’s Introduction provides an outline of the historical developments that led up to the brewery industry’s adoption of an industrial approach in the 19th century. The next chapter looks at the engineering plants and technology offices that were either setting or following the trends in brewery architecture and technological equipment for breweries. The book then introduces the most important figures working in this domestic market in the 1860s and 1870s, such as Gustav Noback, Richard Jahn, and Josef Vincenc Novák, who established a name for themselves in the design of brewery buildings and the development of patented technology, while they also launched their own engineering plants during this same period. They thus applied a comprehensive approach to brewery construction, and the breweries that they worked on, along with a selection of structures designed and built by their predecessors Karl Völckner and Ferdinand Krabes, serve as our main guideline through this synthetic look at the evolution of brewery architecture and at the basic contours of the development of the technology that was used in the 1860s and 1870s. The book’s appendix contains a list of all the brewery projects in the Czech lands and abroad designed and built by engineers Gustav Noback and Josef Vincenc Novák, which provides the perfect finish to the picture the book provides of the technological boom that occurred in this period.

Summary translated by Robin Cassling


Milan Starec – Petr Holub, Noback vs Novák. The Brewery Builders, Prague 2019.

256 pages; Czech/summary in English and German; 205 images and plans; ISBN 978-80-01-06027-0 / authors Milan Starec, Petr Holub / scientific review Jan Štěpán / proofreading Marek Kamlar / translation Robin Cassling, Tomáš Mařík / graphic design Vlasta Doležalová / DTP Lesnická práce, s. r. o. / treatment of reproductions, maps, production Jiří Klíma, Jan Forejt, Gabriel Fragner / print Formall / published by the Research Centre for Industrial Heritage FA CTU Prague 2019