The dairy processing plant in the Thuringian town of Arnstadt is a landmark of architectural modernism. Completed in 1928 and known locally as Milchhof Arnstadt, its design is a prime example of the functionalist ideas and social aspirations that epitomised the Bauhaus. The building by architect Martin Schwarz is currently undergoing a process of renovation and reconstruction, whose first phase is to be completed by the summer of 2019. It is hoped that the restored dairy will act as a catalyst to help revive the derelict industrial area surrounding it.
The modern milk processing and production facility opened in December 1928 as a cooperative serving 80 dairy farmers. In his architectural design, Martin Schwarz carefully considered the functional sequence from delivery of the milk through its industrial processing in order to guarantee perfectly hygienic milk products. At the same time, the architecture also focused on social needs: in addition to the production spaces, the dairy also had day rooms, bedrooms and washrooms for its employees.
The spaces are all combined into cubic volumes. The simple façade of clinker brink emphasises the building’s horizontal lines. This impression is reinforced by the loading docks with their glass canopies, cast stone banding above and below the windows, and the projecting stairwell tower set asymmetrically on the west façade. It is further expressed by an elongated loggia along the east façade and by the horizontal pattern of projecting and recessed brickwork between the windows of the upper floor. The building’s sole ornamentation is the company’s name in large metal letters across the main façade, and the play of colours of the clinker bricks.
Production took place on the ground level in spacious, brightly-lit rooms. Large window openings ensured ample daylight and permitted views into the various functional areas. Large steel skylights brought daylight into the milk and butter processing rooms further inside the building. Reinforced concrete floor slabs, concrete stairs with simple railings of flat steel bars, steel sliding doors, and tiled walls and floors underscore the production facility’s functionality. The administrative and staff rooms as well as the upper-floor apartment for the operations manager had floors of red magnesite screed or beechwood parquet.
The building fabric was damaged by alterations made during the GDR era, then fell into decay after its use as a dairy ceased in 1990. Thanks to committed local citizens, the site has been filled again with life since 2014. The new mix of uses includes spaces for exhibitions, events, living and working. [KL/DK]
Contact and opening hours
The Arnstadt Dairy can currently only be visited after registering by phone.
Directions by local public transport:Nächstgelegener Bahnhof der Deutschen Bahn: Arnstadt Hbf
Book: Bauhaus 100 Sites of Modernism
Extraordinary sites associated with the Bauhaus and modernism can be found throughout Germany—pioneering architecture that has enduringly shaped our understanding of life and work, learning and living. This travel guide brings the historical and architectural traces of over 100 examples of Neues Bauen building to life, making tangible the impact of the historical Bauhaus beyond the school, its sites and its time.
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