The town of Luckenwalde, Germany established a name for itself as a key manufacturer of hats.
In 1921, the two biggest hat-making ateliers merged (Herrman and Steinberg). It was decided a large new factory in Luckenwalde would be built on Industrial Road. The contract was awarded to the then relatively unknown architect Erich Mendelsohn, who was friends with Gustav Herrmann. On an area of 10,000 square meters, four production halls, a boiler, turbine house, a dyeing hall and two gatehouses were designed and built. The genius of Mendelsohn was particularly evident in the construction of the dyeing hall, shaped with a modern, shaft-like hood allowing ventilation.
The dyeing hall funneled the toxic fumes out its chute, it was considered a breakthrough design. The tower also resembled a hat, eventually becoming a trademark of Luckenwalde. The factory and its construction were considered cutting-edge, using new and modern materials - steel, concrete, glass and wood. On the industrial estate were two parallel production courses for both hair and wool hats to be made. The dyeing and power station were two strands of the work and were therefore in a symmetrical axis to the system.
The History of the Hat Factory
Gustav Herrmann left Germany with his family in 1933. A year later, the hat factory was sold to the North German Maschinenbau AG and they demolished the distinctive roof of the dyeing hall. Until 1945, it was used to manufacture aircraft guns and anti-aircraft weapons. After the war, the Russian army used it to repair their tanks. The boiler and turbine house was then used as workshops and offices.
After reunification, the Schweinfurt company FAG Kugelfischer took the factory in Luckenwalde, but in 1992 it had to close due to high losses. The huge complex then stood empty.
Since 2000, the factory has had a future: the site was bought by a Berlin entrepreneurial family, Ayad, with the intention to set up a sorting system for textiles. The hall is to be used as a dyeing museum and reinstate the Hat roof.
In 2001 the original roof design of the dyeing tower was installed to stop decay of the building. The Ayad family also enlisted the work of the German Foundation for Monument Protection. The roofs, which cover an area of approximately 8,000 m² still require extensive work, particularly with the skylights.
In addition, the owners have renovated an area of 300 m² to its former glory. On 14th September 2003, with the Academy of Arts, a permanent exhibition opened in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Erich Mendelsohn. The exhibition commemorates the great architect and the history of the factory.
Currently in 2013, the factory lays empty, available to be used for exhibitions.