The Weirdest Factories on Earth
It is easy to imagine a traditional factory, with smoke billowing out of a chimney and heavy pieces rolling off a production line. Yet, some of the world’s most interesting factories are nothing like you would imagine them to be.
Part of this is down to recent advances in technology and new ways of thinking, while others are older examples of extreme creativity being used to design these buildings.
The Transparent Factory in Germany
Volkswagen has a factory in Dresden, Germany that is called "Gläserne Manufaktur." This name translates along the lines of “factory made out of glass”, and it is true. The factory is, indeed, made out of glass.
Its construction was completed in 2001 and it is where many of the firm’s luxury models are finished off. What is especially interesting about it is that the transparent design means that the production process isn’t hidden from view. Every ladder, machine and plant platform can be easily seen.
The design is also extremely visitor-friendly, with none of the jarring industrial noises and billowing smoke that you might expect in a car production plant. As many as 250 people can visit here each day, and the company often has special events and exhibitions lined up to entertain them.
The Japanese Factories Where Humans and Robots Work Together
Will robots eventually take over the manufacturing industry? This has been a subject of intense debate for some time and if you want to see one of the possible answers then the best idea is to go to Japan.
A number of cutting-edge firms here have created production lines where humans and robots work together in harmony, with each one carrying out specific tasks. It seems to work well and suggests that the future may involve this sort of co-operation rather than robots taking over all human factory jobs.
The Brazilian Factory in the Rainforest with Pools on the Roof
When designing the Mahle Metal Leve Tech Center in Sao Paolo, Brazil, the architects were faced with some tough conditions. The factory makes metal car parts and it is located inside a rainforest. This meant that they had to create something that handled the extreme climate and also blended into the natural setting.
The result is an environmentally friendly building that uses natural lighting. It also has large reflective pools of water situated on the roof. These are designed to keep the air humid and also lower the interior temperature to a reasonable level.
The Old Factory with a House on the Roof
The Penfield Manufacturing Company's factory in Syracuse, New York closed in 2006. Passers-by have long been fascinated by the little red Victorian house perched on its roof. It was a long-running mystery, as the factory was built over a century ago but no reporter ever got close enough to go inside.
Thankfully, the new owner cleared up the mystery by showing the world that it is nothing more than the shell of a house, designed to house motors and keep them cool. Apparently, the house was created as an advertising gimmick and it certainly attracted plenty of attention over the years.