Industrial buildings defined the European riverside landscapes to explore water canals as a way to outflow goods or raw materials and also as an energy force for industrial production.
What would be the responsibility of a company over the river nowadays?

30. Factory building of Harmonia Milling Company, Porto. 1947-1997. Teófilo Rego Archive, Casa da Imagem – Manuel Leão Foundation, Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal.

Industrial buildings left large footprints in natural landscapes through its extensive perimeter of occupation, use of heavy materials and monumental smoking chimneys.
With a growing concern with sustainability and architecture’s impact on the natural environment, how could we describe the structural materials and designs of an industrial building today?

31. The first factory for metal working instruments in Bulgaria during the socialist period. Ca 1950-5. Interactive Museum of Industry, Gabrovo, Bulgaria.

Industrial buildings are immovable property endowed with internal coherence that bears witness to the industrial activity to which it relates, whether they keep integrated or not in the context for which they were created. The development of construction technology and the appearance of new construction materials (such as bricks, metal or reinforced concrete) have progressively improved the construction of industrial buildings. The presence of chimneys in landscapes and cities are the new icons of the industrial revolution and therefore the new “monuments” in our landscapes.

Nowadays, many economic groups choose to build their industrial buildings with more sustainable and “environmentally friendly” materials. As a result, a new industrial landscape has emerged that contrasts with the old industrial architectural model, of extensive depredation and sprawl. These new architectural buildings contribute greatly to territorial cohesion and local development. Industry had to adapt to the new basic needs of human communities and planetarian welfare.

Paradoxically, the technological evolution that brings sustainability leads to shrinking industrial buildings and to make workers redundant. The new challenges of Industry 4.0 relate to the automation of processes, making part of the workers, machines and buildings redundant, it has an impact on industrial buildings and industrial workers. The automation process demands the digitalisation of work and production, thus creating automated process management. As an example, when a factory has technology prior to the Digital Revolution, operating a valve associated with a boiler demands interpretation of a worker and space for different machines and components. Nowadays, computers and machines are progressively substituting manpower, nonetheless a worker guarantees this process.

Two of the wider impacts of the automation processes are the shrinking need for architectural space and the collective redundancies of low trained workers. By reducing the presence of the worker as a standardising agent of the various industrial settlements, and the need for complex machines, companies have another challenge: to ensure the articulation of the machines and other elements involved in the automation process. As we see, by becoming more efficient, industry has the need for smaller and more compact industrial buildings and for fewer low trained workers.