Industrial Architecture in the Second Half of the 20th Century: Extension, Transformation, and Identity.

The Research Centre for Industrial Heritage of the Faculty of Architecture of the Czech Technical University started on 1 March 2023 work on a five-year project supported under the National and Cultural Identity (NAKI II) research and development programme of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic (DH23P03OVV016).

The general objective of this project is to enhance a specific national and cultural identity by understanding, interpreting, and highlighting the cultural significance and possibilities for the sustainable preservation of what is currently one of the most at risk categories of built heritage from the second half of the 20th century, a category of structures that are still overlooked and undervalued among the broad spectrum of topics in industrial heritage.

The concept of industrial heritage needs to be expanded beyond its (traditional) perception, understanding, and analysis. The specific aim of this project is therefore to shift knowledge in two thematic and methodological lines. First, it expands the temporal understanding by focusing on the cultural segment of industrial architecture that dates from the second half of the 20th century, a heritage that is at risk but unmapped and has to now been overlooked, and that has necessary contextual overlaps in both chronological directions – into the interwar period and into the transformational 1990s. A parallel line of inquiry will observe the accompanying social phenomena that in the observed period ushered in a need and a search for new interpretative approaches to industrial heritage and the emergence of systematic efforts to protect it.

The selected topic, its focus, and its planned practical applications and publication outcomes have been chosen in a way that will ensure that the results can be directly applied in the areas of work of professional and educational organisations, bodies of state administration and local government, private subjects, and research institutions and by the professional community and general public.

Investigators: Mgr. Jan Zikmund, Ph.D. (guarantor); PhDr. Benjamin Fragner; Mgr. Lukáš Beran, Ph.D.; Mgr. Jan Červinka; Mgr. Irena Lehkoživová, Ph.D.; Mgr. Jakub Potůček.

The project has a separate website at

Séquin & Knobel: A Map of Industrial Architecture

In recent years the Research Centre for Industrial Heritage at the Faculty of Architecture of the Czech Technical University in Prague has been surveying the general principles behind the emergence of industrial buildings and sites, which are at the same time the basic principles of industrial civilisation—the rationalisation, specialisation, standardisation, and the global transfer of experiences. The aim is to understand the general cultural values of such heritage. The research has therefore sought to grasp industrial structures as complex, individual works and studied their origin and authorship. One of the case studies created as part of work on the Industrial Architecture research project focuses on the work of ‘the doyen of industrial construction’ in Central Europe: the office of Carl Arnold Séquin-Bronner (1845–1899) and his associate – and future successor – Hilarius Knobel (1854–1921) established in Rüti near the city of Zürich, Switzerland. This office introduced advanced British methods of textile factory design and a number of their own construction innovations to continental Europe, and reportedly designed more than two hundred industrial buildings. The results of research conducted by Michael Hanak in the archives of this architectural office, a collection that is now part of the archives of the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture at ETH in Zurich, were updatet and combined with findings from other sources to produce one-line map that can be used to share and build on current knowledge. The map makes it possible to draw connections between individual buildings themselves and between and their current owners, users, and admirers, who have repurposed and redefined many of them in the course of time.




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)