Segments in this Video

Salt Factory of Louis XV (01:10)


Doric columns and an artificial grotto give Arc-et-Senans' local monument a mysterious, temple-like aspect to a building that at the end of the 18th century was a salt factory.

Neoclassical Architect Claude-Nicolas Ledoux (01:38)

Ledoux, author of "Architecture Considered in Relation to Art, Morals, and Legislation," began work on the Royal Saltworks in 1775.

Industrial Innovation (01:12)

Salt was a state monopoly, but with depletion of resources at the Franche-Comté salt mine, Ledoux channeled brine from Salins to a salt factory built near the Chaux forest.

Self-Sufficiency (00:34)

The new salt factory would have an administration building, two workshops, and two pavilions for tax clerks. Housing and other services would be built on the same plan.

Industrial City (02:01)

The factory was in a semicircle with buildings separated to avoid fires, and allow air circulation. A boundary wall enclosed the area for wood storage and gardens, and protected the factory.

Entrance Grotto (02:04)

Behind the entrance portico with 8 columns is a grotto of sculptured stones as a reference to the salt mines.

Administrative Surveillance (00:60)

The buildings around the empty space inside the semicircle face the administration building with its oculus, like a giant eye.

Decline and Re-Purpose (01:42)

The salt factory declined and closed in 1926. The buildings became a gypsy concentration camp in WWII, but are now a cultural center.

Salt Factory Architecture (01:07)

Salt was obtained by evaporation over fires in a high-ceilinged workshop without workers. Smoke and steam escaped via dormer windows.

Decoration With Limited Means (02:05)

With limited means, Ledoux gave a sense of monumental size to the buildings. He used rustic decorations repeated around windows and urns pouring salt projecting from the walls.

Pavilions for the Tax Agents (01:16)

The small pavilion at the corner of the semicircle has a hollowed out niche in the facade, contrasting stone and brick.

Innovative Columns of the Director's Pavilion (02:48)

Ledoux replaced his Doric columns at the entrance with a new order of columns for the director's pavilion, stacks of circles and squares.

Giant Staircase in the Temple (01:57)

The Director's Pavilion is in a line with the grotto. In the hollow interior, workers gathered for church on a giant stairway.

Director's Stables (00:58)

The stables are on the same axis as the grotto and the temple, and open to a final door that was supposed to lead to an urban development.

Unfinished Plans (00:37)

Ledoux drew plans for the city of Chaux, but in 1789, the revolution stopped construction. Ledoux was imprisoned for a year and built nothing more before his death in 1806.

Rediscovery (01:17)

In the 19th century, Ledoux's work was incomprehensible but was rediscovered in the 20th century just as the Director's Portico was demolished.

Ledoux's Ideal City (01:14)

In his plan for the city, Ledoux carved areas in animal shapes, according to Vitruvius. Pillars over the river are disguised as ships.

Credits: Royal Saltworks of Arc-Et-Senans: Architectures—Achievements in Modern Architecture (00:41)

Credits: Royal Saltworks of Arc-Et-Senans: Architectures—Achievements in Modern Architecture

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Royal Saltworks of Arc-Et-Senans: Architectures—Achievements in Modern Architecture

Part of the Series : Architectures—Achievements in Modern Architecture
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At the end of the 18th century, Claude Nicolas Ledoux built a monumental new salt factory for the King of France. It was an aesthetic revolution, an innovative industrial site and the structuring core for an ideal city that never came into being. When resources for the salt mine at Franche-Comté were dwindling, Ledoux channeled the brine down to a river valley adjacent to the Chaux forest where his innovative and self-contained salt factory could produce salt for the royal monopoly. Ledoux based his functional design on philosophy detailed in his book "Architecture considered in relation to art, morals, and legislation." His rational geometry, hierarchical organization and rustic decoration, emphasizing light and shadow, regained appreciation after WWII, and the preserved area is now a cultural center.

Length: 26 minutes

Item#: BVL65350

ISBN: 978-1-60057-661-4

Copyright date: ©2003

Closed Captioned

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