Evolving styles of industrial buildings and factories

28th August 2014

Modern factories and industrial buildings are the result of a timeline beginning in the 18th Century when the Industrial Revolution changed the economy and the landscape of the country.

The origins of industrial buildings

The need for industrial buildings arose in the first instance because of the change in how textiles were made. Originally the spinning and weaving of cotton and wool was carried out in artisan’s homes to provide cloth. The mechanisation of the process meant that this work could be carried out in one place and inevitably led to the development of large buildings to contain the machinery and the people to operate it. The location of these industrial buildings was determined by the location of the power supply for the machines and the transport infrastructure to move the finished goods to market.

The growth of industry as we understand it today was fuelled by the drive and innovation of inventors and entrepreneurs, and as the development of sectors like iron and steel, machine tools, coal mining and glass making for example grew, so the landscape of the country inevitably changed.

Industrial building development

Early factories and industrial buildings were sited in urban areas for easy access to the large number of workers needed. The other reason for the location of these buildings was for their proximity to transport routes and the materials needed to produce the finished goods. The presence and location of the early factories created an urban environment around them as houses for the workers employed in the factories were built.

As time went by industrial buildings became larger and larger to take advantage of economies of scale and many of these edifices are still with us, although what they are used for will certainly have changed. The changes in the economy have meant there is no longer much of a demand for large scale industrial buildings but, although they may be a bit smaller, buildings are still required.

Modern industrial buildings

Building manufacturing space and industrial buildings is much faster than it used to be with more options than just traditional bricks and mortar. Many industrial buildings are now engineered using a clear span steel or metal frame with roof and wall cladding systems to provide the required level of insulation needed.

Aluminium framed industrial buildings allow production or warehousing space to be created in a matter of days as they don’t require any foundations prior to building. These aluminium structures also create the opportunity for buildings to be easily relocated to an alternative site or hired for a short period only and dismantled at the end of the term. Aluminium is a very lightweight metal, making it easy and quick to transport and build from, but also highly resistant to corrosion giving it longevity in terms of quality and appearance.

Some businesses opt to out-source their manufacturing and utilise the industrial building space of a specialist off-site manufacturer. For short, one-off or trial projects this could prove fruitful.

If factories could be classed as an area where things are made using tools and materials then the earliest factory could be dated back to early modern humans. Since then many industrial buildings and factories have become a futuristic hub of automation, innovation and technology ensuring the face of factories does indeed keep changing.

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