With his building, Peter Behrens defined a large part of the inna city of Linz. The building was also very important for the employees. In the last century the “Tschickbude” [factory named by the locals] was the pride of the region. 2009 the city of Linz purchased the 80.000 m2 area from Austria Tabacco. They paid 20,4 million euro. Austria Tabacco already belonged to Japan Tabacco International untill 2009. The Japan Tabacco shut down the production in 2009. At the beginning in the 1930s there were around 1000 people employed. At the end the number shrunk to 250 employees.
photo ::book tabak fabrik linz / kunst architektur arbeitswelt / publisher anton pustet 2010
The origin of the tobacco factory in Linz dates back to an old wool&carpet factory. The baroque building was build by Johann Michael Prunner and parts of it were converted to a tabacco production facility in 1850. It was located at the south of the city of Linz and near the danube.
“Why did this building have such perfect requirements for a tobacco factory?”
The wool&carpet factory was in financial difficulty and therefore it was not able to correspond to the highly competitive market of the textile industry with mechanical equipment. Due to this the “Hofkammer” Linz decided to start producing tabacco in the wool&carpet factory. The area was good orientated and located because of the perfect transport connection. The habor for the shipping traffic was next door and the train traffic too. At first not the whole complex was available for the tabacco manufacture - just the eastern section and the self-contained building part plus the colour-kitchen. The rest of the building was for military administration. On 26.Juni 1850 the manufacture started producing tabacco. But just after 5 years the demand was so high that the manufacture needed mechanical support and also more space.“What to do now?”
As a first step the tabacco production started expanding in the wool&carpet factory. A lot of secondary rooms were adapted. Also the administration area and the part for the residential use were adapted for the production area. The first big change was the expantion by adapting the “Brückenstadlmagazin”. This building was an administration station for the road construction management. Around the end of the century the consume of cigarettes was so high that the city Linz needed a new government-operated system to extend the sortiment of cigaretts. The new government-operated system demanded new conditions. A simple redesign of the wool&carpet fabric was not enough.
It was necessary to plan and build a completely new factory. The south part of the wool&carpet factory area was purchased from the city Linz and offerd a huge space for a new building. One of the key points was the transport route between the factory, the railway station and the purchased- transit point for shipments. The solution was a connection by rails and three hubs on the factory area.
1928 Peter Behrens and Alexander Popp started planning the new factory. The opening was in 1935. But between 1930 and 1932 the economic crisis affected the production seriously and the company was forced to introduce short-time work. The tightening of budgets caused by the crisis resulted in a reduction of the construction activity. In 1934 the Minister of Finance Karl Buresch saved the project by providing the finacial aid. Despite the support of the Minister of Finance the big planned administration building could not be implemented. The extension of the factory happend without any restrictions of the ongoing production of tabacco. The new tabacco factory was the first large scaled steel skeleton in Austria. The building covers 30.000 m2 [square metres] of grundfloor and 80.000 m2 [square metres] of the net floor space. The tabacco factory opened its doors in november 1935.
“Why the decision for a textile factory?”
My decision was on the one hand based on the historical background. The site of the present tabacco factory has been the location for a wool&carpet factory. On the other hand, a big textil production facility is missing in austria. There are a few small factories in Vorarlberg, but for a large scale production of a whole sortiment you need more square metres. The area covers 30.000 m2 [square metres]. It offers a huge space for a lot of functions. If you speak with austrian designers, they will tell you that austrians prefer high quality but low prices and that is not possible with handmade and limited production. A lot of austrian designers have their tailors in Hungary. It is next door and the price is the half of an austrian tailor. My idea is to create a fashion town with a university of art&fashion, where the people start to learn all about the fashion industry. Starting with the theory of the materials and the history behind the clothing-cut. They should also practise learning by doing- so the students should work [internship] in the factory and in the design studios. The motivation of them should be to produce and sell their designs in the factory. The factory itself is planned as a very open environment, with big galleries and balconies and an open door policy. The design studios are connected with the production area to establish a close relationship between design and production.
The two big ramps are the eyecatchers of the building and work as absorption points. They attract people from two sides- from the public space and from the semipublic space. The next significant point is the front face, which is split in 3 atmospheres.
Atmospheres[No°1] is the movable face with included sale walls. Atmospheres[No°2] is the box-expansion which houses the must haves [emergency stairs, elevators, wetrooms, ...]. Atmospheres[No°3] is the summer-expansion, by opening the front face to the No°3 the atmosphere[No°1] is getting bigger.
On the first floor we have the fashion tv and a magazine archive plus a huge lounge area on the ramp with sale points. The reception and wardrobe are on the west side of the building. A [catwalk] ramp is connecting the first floor with the second floor. On the second floor we have the workshop area for the visitors. People can take part in workshops and see what now actually is going on in the manufacture. A rentable photostudio is planned on the east side. The 3rd floor is the eat&drink area with a big restaurant. On the 4th floor there is a model agency. The significant point here is that the ramp works like a catwalk for the agency - they can observe visitors who are crossing the ramp. The 5th floor is the [digital floor] whit rentable photostudios and pop up stores. The 6th floor is the filmstudio- where the competitions and other events from the startup center take place. On the 7th floor is the vip balcony area with a small bar&lounge. At the same floor are rooms for utilities and technical equipment.