FACTORY G

FACTORY G

In an earlier report I already introduced you to the beautiful Factory H, the younger brother of this Factory G. Of the four silo buildings that can be found here, this is undoubtedly the most beautiful and also the most interesting. It is the oldest of the cluster and was built in 1895 as one of the earliest realizations of Frans van Dijk, an Antwerp architect, who would later leave his mark on the architecture in the city.

Factory G is a grain warehouse with a dual function: storage and aeration. The building was equipped with two front facades with two towers, in which the grain was transported via “Jacob’s ladders” (a vertical conveyor system with a circumferential belt on which a continuous series of trays is mounted). Once at the top, the grain was transported via conveyor belts to the 144 vertical silos in the middle part of the building. The building suffered considerable damage at the end of the Second World War. The repair was a good opportunity to build a new and larger distribution floor. Three double portal bridges of reinforced concrete were installed in this open space as a function of horizontal transport. The silo buildings were admired and praised throughout Europe for the revolutionary way in which they could sort, treat and store grain.


CONVENT U

CONVENT U

Beautiful art nouveau convent with seemingly endless corridors, beautiful stained glass windows and impressive marble staircases…


MISSION TO MARS

MISSION TO MARS

These special “dome greenhouses” are located in a far corner of an almost 35-acres monastery garden. The garden itself was mentioned for the first time around 1805. It was then laid out in the form of an English garden. Until 2005 the park was privately owned, after which it was bought by the city, which made it available to the public as a public facility. This beautiful former monastery garden had been degrading for years, because the nuns could only perform the most necessary tasks. With the takeover by the city, the park was brought back to life and the more than 200 year old private garden was transformed into a park for the citizens. The ponds were detoxified, the undergrowth was removed from the park and everything was cleaned. By that time, the whole estate was included on the list of heritage to be protected.

These spectacular domes were built in 1987. The domes served as greenhouse learning facilities to offer the long-term unemployed in a nursery training and thus give them a new perspective on integration into the labor market. The design of the domes can be traced back to the American engineer and philosopher Richard Buckminster Fuller. He experimented for NASA to find the most energetic-synergetic form. His pavilion “Biosphere”, designed for the EXPO 1967 in Montreal, a huge 200 feet high geodesic dome was admired worldwide. These greenhouses are in fact refined geometric shapes, so-called geodesic domes. The surface consists of a series of alternating hexagonal and pentagonal surfaces. Well assembled, they result in spherical, self-supporting buildings. They can be connected to each other endlessly. 24 such greenhouses were built and grouped in different “bullet families”. The domes are not only very intelligent buildings, because they can sustain without support, they also optimized to defy weather and wind. The city, as the new owner of the surrounding park, is currently working in consultation with the private owner of the greenhouses to reopen the project as a learning facility.


POTTERY

POTTERY

The reputation of the pottery produced here is almost legendary. Over the two centuries that this family business existed, it has generated a host of loyal admirers worldwide. The collection consisted of all kinds of earthenware pieces, such as crockery, vases and flower pots, but also art objects, frescoes and even stoves. The factory was founded in 1790, but initially faced major problems, including difficulties with the supply of raw materials, but also hostility and distrust of the population. In addition, competition from mainly English producers was fierce. Around the turn of the century the factory was taken over by an inventive young German, who quickly managed to turn the tide through the introduction of new decoration techniques and the use of the finest raw materials. Napoleon became one of the primary customers, so the orders quickly came in and the company was forced to expand. The current factory, including this mold storage facility, dates from this period of expansion between 1850 and 1860. During the glory period, the company employed more than 3200 employees. The end of the 1970s marked a turning point. The company was by then taken over by another family, which stopped the production of crockery to focus on the production of tile for walls and floors. In the early 2000s, the business took a turn for the worse and was left with about 100 employees trying to keep the company afloat. Hardly 5 years later, the company goes into liquidation anyay. Shortly afterwards, the court declared bankruptcy and the curtain fell on two centuries of industrial history…


TOWN MANSION

TOWN MANSION

The impressive Town Mansion was built in 1912 by order of the son of a German entrepreneur who had been based in Antwerp since the mid-19th century and was one of the founders of what would later become the transatlantic shipping company Red Star Line. He inhabited the mansion, with his wife and two sons, until his death in 1937. The eclectic-style mansion with the neo-Louis XVI slant belongs to the later oeuvre of the architect, who built a large number of distinguished townhouses in eclectic and neo-Flemish Renaissance style in Antwerp during the first decades of his career, but later focused on industrial architecture. After the death of the original occupant, the property was sold to a large family, akin to a major inland shipping company. Numerous adjustments and embellishments to the house date from his period, such as the figurative stained glass windows, the paneling and the gold leather in the rear salon and in the large salon the room-wide figurative frieze with classical themes and scenes referring to his trading activities in shipping. After the death of the owner of the house in 1961, his widow continued to live in the mansion until 1963, after which it became the property of the Belgian State. The valuable furniture of this building, which is often inextricably linked to the wall-fixed decoration (tapestries, incorporated into the paneling, paintings on the mantelpieces, and so on), is the property of the provincial administration and has been kept in storage for many years. The intention was to house the official residence of the governor there, but in view of the major renovation costs that the re-use would entail, this never happened. The building has been vacant since the early 1990s, resulting in several squatters. In the spring of 2018 the property was sold to a private owner who wishes to remain anonymous.

Due to Tumblr limitations only a small selection of photos is posted here. Check out the full album on my website!


CINE THEATRE VARIA

CINE THEATRE VARIA

Ciné Théatre Varia (popularly called Ciné Varia) is an atypical building in Belgian concrete history, a remnant of the golden age of silent cinema. The Liège architect Eugène Claes (1886-1947) designed the building in 1911, inspired by industrial exhibitions and international events, which took place simultaneously in the major Belgian cities. He resolutely opts for Art Nouveau, which was at the time flourishing throughout Europe. He uses concrete as decorative elements for the facade, consisting of beams and columns with brick filling and decorated with cement decorations. However, the auditorium, with a capacity of 1,100 spectators, is designed in steel, Art Nouveau style with a metal frame to crown the whole. For fire safety reasons when showing films, which was then done by a process with flammable resin (hence the name “film flamme”), the design had to be adapted at the eleventh hour and the concrete was extended to the complete design of the theater. Construction was completed in 1913, but the building wasn’t inaugurated until 1917. The Varia can look back with pride on celebrities such as Bourvil, Adamo, Fernandel and Johny Halliday, who populated the stage during the golden 1950s and 60s. In the 1980s, however, things went sideways quickly for the once popular theater. Partly due to concerns about the stability of the building, the curtain for the Varia finally falls in 1986. The facade of the building was classified as a monument in 1992 and is currently still under construction for renovation. For the rest of the building, the future is not looking very good. After all, that part is not classified and estimates for its renovation amount to no less than 5 million euros…


BRAUEREI IBING

BRAUEREI IBING

Friedrich and Richard Ibing were born as the youngest sons of a famous clothmaker’s family, who had been active in the textile industry for over 200 years. However, the decline of this industry was already apparent in the 19th century. The artisanal companies could no longer compete with industrially manufactured English fabrics. It is therefore not surprising that people started to look for other forms of employment. In May 1863, the brothers Friedrich and Richard Ibing acquired two plots of land from a former quarry, where they developed their activities. After seven years the company needed to be expand, but this was not possible at this location. In April 1870 an area of ​​almost 10,000 square meters was acquired, on which a spacious new building was erected. From the beginning, the Ibing brewery was one of the leading Mülheim breweries. The brewery also enjoyed fame outside the borders. At the World Exhibition in Paris in 1889, the beer from the Ibing brewery even received a gold medal. In 1892, Friedrich Ibing died of a stroke at the age of 58. Hugo Ibing, the eldest of the two sons of Friedrich Ibing, joined the management of the brewery at the age of 23 and led the business with great success with his uncle. At the beginning of the 20th century, the brewery had an annual brewing capacity of 60,000 to 65,000 hectoliters. The number of employees rose from 30 in 1900 to 62 in 1908. Erich Ibing, the last descendant of the founders, led the brewery for only a short time. In 1955 the Ibing family sold the company. Despite all the guarantees that it was not the intention to close the brewery, in February 1968, five years after the 100th anniversary of the brewery, the factory gates were closed forever. For more than 50 years the complex was left to decay and today only the ruins are still visible.


BERNINA’S BROTHER

BERNINA’S BROTHER

After a major fire, which destroyed nearly 600 wooden houses in the center of the city at the end of the 17th century, this beautiful town house was one of the rare first stone bourgeois buildings in the city. The building was built in Louis XVI style, a rather austere and symmetrical style, characterized by classicistic decorations, such as the wooden dormer windows and the triangular pediment. In the 19th century, the then owners established a cotton factory on the site, which, thanks to sensible management and timely modernization, grew into a successful company during the Industrial Revolution. In the beginning of the 20th century, the buildings were sold and converted into a craft school that soon proved to be of great importance for the development of the city’s textile industry. In 2008 the last students moved away from these historic buildings. The entire complex has since been sold and will be developed into a new residential project with respect for the historic buildings. These works are currently in full swing.


PETE’S ACADEMY

PETE’S ACADEMY

I am usually not a big fan of graffiti, but sometimes it’s good to make an exception. Pete One is a well known name in Belgian urban explorer circles. His works are found in several abandoned places in the western part of Belgium and the north of France. I already posted “Pete’s Hotel” and “Petite Echelle” on earlier occasions. This one, Pete’s Academy, is a former elementary school that contains some typical Pete One artworks. As per usual he found his inspiration in American pop culture, with among others images of Kurt Cobain and Chris Cornell and also one well known resident of Elm Street… 


PETE’S ACADEMY

PETE’S ACADEMY

I am usually not a big fan of graffiti, but sometimes it’s good to make an exception. Pete One is a well known name in Belgian urban explorer circles. His works are found in several abandoned places in the western part of Belgium and the north of France. I already posted “Pete’s Hotel” and “Petite Echelle” on earlier occasions. This one, Pete’s Academy, is a former elementary school that contains some typical Pete One artworks. As per usual he found his inspiration in American pop culture, with among others images of Kurt Cobain and Chris Cornell and also one well known resident of Elm Street… 


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