Industrial Building

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Industrial Building


a building designed to house industrial operations and provide the necessary conditions for workers and the operation of industrial equipment.

Distinctly “industrial” buildings first appeared during the industrial revolution, when a need arose for large buildings to house machinery and large numbers of workers. The first industrial buildings, rectangular in plan and supported by brick or stone walls and wooden roofs, were like those at the Strutt and Need factory in Belper, Derbyshire, Great Britain (1771). Strictly functional designs prevailed; long, unplastered walls were often divided only by pilasters and decorated with bands of ornamental masonry. Decorative elements of various architectural styles were sometimes used for the exteriors of industrial buildings; for example, classicistic motifs are found in the architecture of factories in the Urals built in the late 18th century and the first half of the 19th. This tradition was maintained in the construction of many industrial buildings up to the early 20th century.

As construction technology developed and new building materials (metal, reinforced concrete) appeared, framed structures evolved. Frame construction made it possible to depart from traditional designs and to formulate efficient layouts to meet the requirements of production technology. When cast-iron column-and-beam skeletons came into use in the late 18th century, it became possible to construct less massive walls, increase the number of stories, and enlarge light openings. This had an immediate and marked effect on the external appearance of industrial buildings, such as the Bennon Badge and Marshall factory in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, Great Britain (1796). The appearance of metal-truss roofs in the early 19th century and their subsequent improvement permitted the construction of greater spans with fewer columns, distributed so as not to interfere with the placement of the equipment within; this is seen in the Verkhniaia Salda Plant in the Urals (first half of the 19th century) and the 80-m-wide covered slip at the Putilov Plant in St. Petersburg (1913).

The first attempts at artistic design of new structures date to the second half of the 19th century. One example is the Menier Chocolate Works in Noisiel, France (1871–72, architect G. Sonier and engineer E. Muller), in which the metal frame exposed on the façade played a definite decorative role in the treatment of the brick wall. The use of reinforced concrete in construction from the late 19th century greatly influenced the architecture of industrial buildings. This can be seen, for example, in the textile factory in Tourcoing, Nord Department, France (1895, engineer P. Hennebique).

Industrial buildings have gradually become an important part of the architecture of the 20th century. Among the best industrial buildings of the early 20th century are the A. E. G. Turbine Factory in Berlin (1909, architect P. Behrens) and the Fagus factory in Alfeld (1911, architect W. Gropius). These buildings are distinguished by pronounced patterns of columns, skeletal structures, large spans of their floors, and the new methods of dividing large wall surfaces by strips of glass in metal frames; they exercised significant influence on 20th-century architecture as a whole.

In the second half of the 1920’s and the early 1930’s, the buildings and designs of Soviet architects played an important role in the development of the architecture of industrial buildings. The buildings clearly reflected the spirit and romance of the first five-year plans. Examples include the V. I. Lenin Dneproges Hydroelectric Power Plant (1927–32, architects V. A. Vesnin, N. Ia. Kolli, and G. M. Orlov), a factory in Ivanteevka, Moscow Oblast (1927–28, architects G. P. Gol’ts and M. P. Parusnikov), and the Krasnaia Talka textile factory (1928–29, architects B. V. Gladkov and I. S. Nikolaev). Between 1930 and 1970, new structural systems were introduced that made it possible to cover large spans without the use of supports; these systems utilized new construction methods and finishing materials.

The modern revolution in science and technology, with its constant progress in the construction of industrial buildings and improved construction technology, has resulted in an increase in the number of enterprises that do not pollute the environment. As a result, a new type of urban development, known as the industrial-residential area, has emerged. Contrasting in scale, appearance, and silhouette with standard-design housing, industrial buildings become important architectural highlights in urban development. This is true, for example, of the carpet factory in Brest, Byelorussian SSR, designed by I. I. Bovt, L. T. Mitskevich, and N. I. Shpigel’man and completed in 1964. Because industrial buildings are so prominent, aesthetic requirements for their appearance are increased.

The architectural design of industrial buildings depends mostly on how pronounced the standard features and characteristic lines of the structures are. Characteristic features include large and long facades; large, unbroken blank walls and glass surfaces, corresponding to a single, undivided internal space; and repeated faces of parallel spans. Other features are peaked, stepped, or curvilinear roofs; distinctive stairwells; and various engineering structures, such as flues and ventilation ducts, pipelines, and exposed equipment. The appearance of industrial buildings depends in great part on the artistic treatment of the materials and structures used, the shape of structures, the system used to divide walls into prefabricated elements, the surface finish, and the color of structural and finishing materials. This is especially true when prefabrication methods of construction are used. Glare-reducers, sun deflectors, decorative lattices, and other elements for providing shade greatly affect the appearance of industrial buildings in southern regions.

Aesthetically, the quality of industrial buildings can be improved by distinctive interior design, sensible proportioning and division of enclosed areas, and harmonious choice of structural elements. The quality can also be improved by orderly placement of basic equipment in assigned areas; systematic arrangement of intraplant transport facilities, passages, and driveways; interior color coordination; and consistent implementation of measures related to technical aesthetics.

Industrial buildings have an enormous—and often negative—impact on natural and architectural landscapes; and industrial regions often become alienated from the natural environment. One task of industrial architecture is thus maximum preservation of the natural landscape and harmonious introduction of new industrial buildings into the landscape.

Socioeconomic conditions and the technological level of industrial production and construction technology are crucial in designing industrial buildings. In the USSR and the other socialist countries, the nature of the social structure has given rise to a new type of industrial building, one that embodies the achievements of social, scientific, and technological progress. Development and improvement of the architectural design and structural design of industrial buildings are based on scientific studies determining the major trends for modern industrial construction. First, there is a tendency to create general-purpose industrial buildings in order to ensure optimal flexibility in the use of production areas when technologies change. Second, there is a tendency to standardize spatial organization and structural layouts for industrial buildings so as to permit the fullest use of the construction industry’s production capacity. Third, there is a tendency toward the maximum integration of shops and whole factories into enlarged buildings.

General-purpose industrial buildings are created by using expanded networks of columns (in terms of spans and spacing) and a single height for enclosed areas within each building. Prefabricated partitions and shelving for major equipment make it possible to modernize technological processes with minimum building reconstruction.

The standardization of spatial organization and structural layouts for industrial buildings permits a substantial reduction in the number of standard sizes for components and structural members. It also creates the conditions for their large-scale prefabrication and use in construction work. In the USSR, interindustry standardization has been achieved for the major construction specifications of industrial buildings, including dimensions of column networks, story heights, and dimensions of the ties between structural elements and modular separable axes. The dimensions of column networks for one-story industrial buildings are in multiples of 6 m. Spans in multistory industrial buildings are 3 m, and columns are placed at 6-m intervals. The height of stories in industrial buildings is a multiple of 0.6 m.

The integration of industrial buildings is one of the most efficient means of reducing the estimated costs of constructing them. When buildings are constructed as one block instead of individual units, the greatest reduction in capital expenditures results if the following can be eliminated: the need to separate shops by main walls, the need to equalize the height of adjacent areas in order to standardize structural members, the need to construct supplementary intrashop driveways, and the need to increase the area of zones served by heavy-duty cranes.

Industrial buildings are classified according to certain basic characteristics. The most important of these is the number of stories: one, two, or more. Based on the handling equipment used, buildings are classified as either crane-equipped (with electric overhead cranes or with electric or manual suspension cranes) or as non-crane-equipped. Based on the type of illumination, buildings are said to have natural illumination (side and overhead), permanent artificial illumination (without windows or skylights), or combined illumination (both natural and artificial). According to the type of air-exchange system used, buildings are said to have total natural ventilation, mechanical ventilation, or air conditioning. Based on temperature control in production areas, buildings are classified as heated or nonheated. As for capital outlays, industrial buildings are divided into four classes, depending on their purpose and importance for the national economy.

One-story industrial buildings are the most common type to be found at industrial enterprises and constitute 75–80 percent of total industrial construction today. They usually house industrial works with heavy-duty production and handling equipment; works involved in the production of large and bulky items; or works in which excess heat, smoke, dust, and gases are released during operations. One-story industrial buildings create favorable conditions for the efficient organization of technological processes and the modernization of equipment. They allow the bases of heavy equipment and units with large dynamic loads to be placed directly on the ground and they also provide uniform illumination and natural ventilation of facilities by means of lighting and ventilation fixtures in the roof. Compared to multistory buildings, however, one-story buildings require larger areas and therefore larger expenditures to prepare building sites.

In large-scale construction, industrial buildings are mostly one-story, crane-equipped, multispan, and rectangular in plan, with skylights that provide overhead natural lighting and ventilation by means of aeration devices or mechanical systems. Such industrial buildings are characteristic of enterprises in ferrous metallurgy, machine building, metalworking, and the construction-materials industry. When production processes involve considerable release of heat or harmful gases, the roof outline of industrial buildings is determined by aerodynamic design to optimize the conditions for removal of heated or polluted air. Removal is accomplished by means of thermal or wind pressure through vents and shafts in the roof.

When production processes require certain prescribed and stabilized conditions of temperature, humidity, and air purity, one-story multispan industrial buildings are built with suspended ceilings. The ceilings separate the floor where engineering equipment and supply lines are located (in the space between the trusses) from the main area of the building, which can then be safely isolated from the environmental effects. Such buildings usually lack skylights and are equipped with artificial lighting, mechanical ventilation, and air conditioning. They are used in the manufacture of radio and electronic equipment, instruments, and precision tools; they are also used in the chemical industry to manufacture synthetic fibers as well as in the textile industry.

The following design parameters are characteristic of large one-story buildings: 12–36-m spans, 6–12-m column spacings, 5–12-m ceiling heights in non-crane-equipped buildings, and 10–12-m ceiling heights in crane-equipped buildings. Enlarged column networks are used in certain cases to provide a more efficient use of the manufacturing area and better operational conditions for equipment. When production conditions require large spans and high ceilings, one-story industrial buildings may have spans as great as 100 m; such buildings are used at enterprises that build ships, airplanes, and transport machinery. In the chemical and sugar-refining industries, it is advantageous to construct one-story industrial buildings that have their equipment in shelves; these buildings are called industrial pavilions.

Multistory buildings are constructed mainly for plants that have to organize vertical (gravity-flow) production processes. They are also built for plants that use relatively lightweight and small-scale equipment, including plants that build precision machinery and instruments, plants in light industry, and plants in the electronics, radio-engineering, food-processing, and printing industries. Multistory industrial buildings are usually illuminated naturally by light that is admitted through side inlets; wide multistory buildings have combined illumination systems.

In large-scale construction, most multistory industrial buildings have three to six floors and ceiling loads of 5–10 kN/m2. When land area is limited, industrial buildings may have ten or more stories. Modern multistory buildings usually have column networks of 6 m × 6 m, 9 m × 6 m, or 12 m × 6 m, and there is a tendency to use even more extended networks. The total width of multistory industrial buildings is usually 36–48 m. In multistory buildings designed for processes with strict requirements for air purity and temperature and humidity stability, technical floors are constructed for engineering equipment and supply lines; the supply lines may be located within the trusses of intermediate floors. There is a tendency to make greater use of multistory industrial buildings in industrial construction because of the need to economize on urban sites and lands suitable for agricultural use.

The most common industrial buildings today are wide two-story multispan industrial buildings with expanded column networks and natural overhead lighting. In such buildings, the major production operations are located mostly on the second floor, with storage and space for heavy equipment on the first floor. Variants of two-story industrial buildings include buildings with a lower technical floor, which are used in foundry and in rolling plants, and buildings with an intermediate technical floor, which are used for production processes with strict requirements for a stable internal microclimate.

No matter how many stories they have, modern industrial buildings generally have framed structures, with a reinforced-concrete, steel, or combined skeleton. The choice of skeleton depends on operating conditions, considerations related to saving on major construction materials, and the extent of investment in the building.

One-story industrial buildings generally have skeletons in the shape of cross frames, with columns embedded in the foundation and rafter beams or trusses hinged to the columns. The longitudinal stability of the framework is ensured by a system of rigid ties between the columns. In one-story industrial buildings, this system consists of foundation, tie, and crane beams and roofing elements (girders and decking) in addition to frames. The reinforced-concrete frames of one-story industrial buildings are usually precast, but parts of them may be cast in situ. The protective structures of the roofs of such industrial buildings are made of precast concrete slabs or as thin-walled reinforced-concrete shells and corrugations that combine pre-casting and casting in situ.

The columns, trusses, and girders used in the steel skeletons of one-story industrial buildings are made of rolled sections (channel beams, I-beams, and angle brackets) or sheet steel and open thin-walled and tubular bent sections. The roofs of metal-frame industrial buildings generally take the form of light decking made of sectional sheet steel or asbestos panels along steel girders. In industrial buildings with combined skeletons, the columns are made of reinforced concrete, the rafters are made of steel, and the roofs are made of reinforced-concrete slabs. Increasingly, metal structural elements are being used for the roofs of industrial buildings; the elements exist in the form of steel crossbeam space structures with a light decking of sheet materials. The use of industrial prefabricated wood structural elements in industrial buildings is also growing.

Reinforced-concrete frames are the type most often used in the construction of multistory industrial buildings. These frames either accommodate horizontal forces by means of rigid frame joints or consist of a bridging system that transfers the horizontal forces to diaphragms, stairwell walls, and elevator shafts. The framework of a multistory industrial building is generally made of precast units or is partially cast in situ, with or without bridging joists. Joist floors consist of joists resting on projecting or hidden column corbels and smooth pierced or ribbed slabs supported by joist flanges. Beamless flooring is usually used in industrial buildings in which the production process requires smooth ceilings, as in the food-processing industry, warehouses, and cold-storage warehouses. In the beam-less method, the flat slabs of the intermediate floor are supported by column heads or rest directly on columns, with rigid cross reinforcement within the flooring to serve as column heads. Beamless flooring structures of industrial buildings are made largely of concrete cast in situ; in some cases, the lift-slab method is used.

For the upper floors of two-story industrial buildings with column networks that are extended relative to the first floor, the designs of one-story industrial buildings are generally used. Floors are made with beam structures that have steel or reinforced-concrete spandrel beams, bars, and reinforced-concrete decking.

The wall structures of industrial buildings are either self-supporting or enclosure types (framed). The major types of wall structures used for heated industrial buildings are large panels made of light-weight or cellular concrete and enclosures made of thin sheet steel, aluminum, asbestos cement, and other sheet materials with efficient insulation. Wall structures of unheated industrial buildings and shops that release excess heat are usually made of reinforced-concrete panels, with lighter variants made of corrugated sheets of asbestos cement, sectioned sheet steel, or fiberglass.

In the USSR, industrial buildings are generally constructed with standardized prefabricated elements, which are made in factories that produce reinforced-concrete structural members or specialized metal structures. In the future, widespread standardization of design may serve as the basis for a transition to total-prefabricated construction of industrial buildings from structures and elements manufactured in factory-construction combines. Modern construction is characterized by a tendency to minimize the weight of structural members in order to reduce consumption of materials and the cost of construction and installation. In line with this, the reinforced-concrete structural members used in industrial buildings are being improved through the use of high-strength concrete and concrete with light-weight aggregates. Metal structures are being improved through the use of high-strength steel and aluminum alloys and thin-walled rolled and bent sections. Improvement of metal structures is also related to the introduction of prestressed metal structures and the construction of light-weight industrial-building systems that make use of thin sheet-covered surfaces.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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