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The Transparent Factory in Dresden

Company has invested Euro 186.62 million in automobile factory Fusion of industrial car production and craft workshop


Some three months prior to the world premiere of the Phaeton in Geneva, the Transparent Factory in Dresden, designed especially for production of the new luxury-class vehicle, was inaugurated in 2001 on December 11. In erecting a factory right at the heart of Dresden, blending it homogeneously into the cityscape, Volkswagen has become the first manufacturer to implement a production concept that combines the processes of classic industrial-scale automotive production with manual craft tasks.

Another unique aspect of this factory is that the individual processes of building a new car can be followed live by the customer. Volkswagen has invested a total of Euro 186.62 million in the Dresden Transparent Factory. Up to 800 workers will produce a maximum of 150 of Volkswagen's new luxury class vehicles each day at the plant in Saxony's capital city.

It is forecast that as many as another 3000 jobs will be created in the factory's vicinity, as suppliers and service providers set up base nearby. Once production is running at full capacity, it is anticipated that the tax revenues of the city of Dresden will receive a boost of some Euro 20 million; current forecasts predict that Volkswagen's arrival in the city known as the "Florence of the Elbe" will generate a net product of around Euro 0.5 billion a year.

The activities of Europe's largest car manufacturer in Dresden are extensive: along with the construction of this factory close to the city centre, a new logistics system has been created. Specially developed logistics tram cars running on Dresden's tram network transport prefabricated parts just-in-time from the Friedrichstadt Logistics Centre on the edge of the city to the Transparent Factory. This minimises the burden of emissions on the city itself.

The Dresden Transparent Factory is a perfected service centre Volkswagen has likewise adopted a new approach for the Event Area integrated into the factory. High-tech is used in an informative and entertaining way to help visitors and customers find out more about Volkswagen, the brand's new luxury-class models and the general topic of individual mobility. Customers coming to Dresden to collect their new car fresh from the production line will enjoy VIP treatment in a separate section of the Event Area.

The actual handover of their new car in the VIP Lounge is designed to be a memorable occasion. The Event Area, including the catering establishments, covers a total floor area of around 15,000 square metres. The outdoor facilities, covering an area of some 50,000 square metres, harmonise well with the urban setting and the nearby Botanical Gardens; around Euro 6 million were spent on the factory's surroundings. The L-shaped Transparent Factory covers an 8.3 hectare site on Dresden's Strassburger Platz, just 100 metres from the Botanical Gardens.

The new luxury-class Volkswagen named "Phaeton" will be built behind 27,500 square metres of glazed façades, in a pleasantly designed production area encompassing 55,000 square metres of floor area on three levels. From the city centre side, the production area appears as an L-shaped building with a fully glazed front, with each wing measuring 140 metres long by 20 metres high. Pedestrians and residents will notice virtually no noise from inside the factory, even when close by.

The planners have paid particular attention to environmental protection: 350 trees have been planted at a cost of Euro 56,000; special sodium discharge lamps for the outdoor areas use a yellow range of the colour spectrum which will not disturb insects from the nearby Botanical Gardens; the depth of the building complex has been designed so as to maintain the equilibrium of the groundwater hydrology; the sealed area of the site has been reduced from the previous 6.7 hectares to 4.8 hectares; as all components apart from the bodyshells are transported by cargo tram, there will be no significant increase in truck traffic in the city centre.

Gläserne Manufaktur

The transparent Factory of Volkswagen in Dresden ("Die Gläserne Manufaktur") is an impressing example of modern architecture. photo by Christoph Münch


Strassburger Platz - linking the past with the future By the 19th century, the site of the new Transparent Factory in Dresden was already densely developed. Until its destruction in the Second World War, the municipal exhibition hall was to be found on Strassburger Platz; the famous Globe House, which was demolished during the Third Reich, was also here. It served as a venue for international art, culture, gardening and architectural exhibitions.

The "Vision Globe" in the new factory's Event Area, an audio-visual infotainment centre, acts as a link with the past, echoing the former Globe House architecturally. The landmark of the Transparent Factory is a glass tower almost 40 metres high, in which the finished vehicles are stored ready for collection. It is from here that the new cars leave the Transparent Factory together with their owners, across the Piazza and the collection bridge.

The factory's interior is as appealing as its exterior architecture. The large glazed areas and 24,000 square metres of parquetry (even in the assembly area) create a light, relaxed atmosphere which reflects the innovative underlying philosophy of manufacture by meticulously executed assembly processes, in many cases by hand, as a complement to industrial production processes.


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