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Färberei- und HE-Gebäude, Verseidag 1930
Vereinigte Seidenwebereien AG, or Verseidag, the silk weavers association, was established by Hermann Lange and Josef Esters in 1920 by merging several silk mills in the states of Rhineland and Thuringia with a view to securing a stronger market position. Over the next few years the company became the largest manufacturer of necktie fabrics and silks.


 












Verseidag commissioned two works by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. At the end of 1930 he was called upon to plan an office and warehouse building with shed, and in 1937 he was commissioned to design the office and catalogue showroom for this strongly-growing company, a project that had probably started in 1930. The so-called Verseidag Färberei and HE building was used when completed in August 1931 to house the company’s own new dye works – up to this point dyeing and finishing of products was done by external firms – as well as a warehouse for menswear lining materials (HE).

There are still some gaps in the previous history to this job. Sources indicate that the location and volume of the building project had already been decided by the company’s technical department before Mies took up the project at the end of 1930.
The project correspondence that has survived also shows, however, that Mies had been responsible for construction and design since January 1931. The final execution of construction work was carried out jointly with the technical department of Verseidag.
The building was realised in two construction stages in 1931 and 1935. One office complex with two (four) floors is flanked by a hall consisting of four (eight) sheds.

Mies executed the streamlined cubistic building with white rendered facade and regular window structure. The longitudinal side is structured only by the rainwater pipes at a 3-2-1-2-3 rhythm. One particular highlight is the design for the main staircase, which was entirely clad in Bockhorn clinker. This material is then found again in the building’s plinth and in the so-called “ramp”.

Other buildings were constructed on the Verseidag site up to 1937, which repeat the form language of the HE building. To what extent Mies had an influence on their design cannot be conclusively established. The construction of the “clock tower”, a narrow extension with a tower-like head piece beside the HE building, generated some “serious criticism” from Mies, according to one worker at the technical department. On the other hand, a detailed commentary by the architect on the plans for the “film printing works” on Industriestraße has survived.

Christiane Lange, 2011


© Kristien Daem, Gent
for the photographs Verseidag Färberei und HE-Gebäude