Back - List of Pavilions

Northern Forges - Expo Paris 1889

Northern Forges at the Exhibition Expo Paris 1889
Architect(s) : Granet

It was a rather difficult problem to organise an exhibition that was not too monotonous with the products of ten or twelve factories manufacturing the same materials.

This problem was very fortunately solved by the Comité des forges du Nord, which installed, on avenue de la Bourdonnais, opposite the central dome of the Palais des Beaux-Arts, in a pavilion measuring 30 by 15 metres, the exhibitions of the factories which had joined the union and entrusted this committee with the defence of their interests.

These factories, forges, blast furnaces, steelworks, etc., are those of Denain and Anzin, Maubeuge, Providence, Vezin-Aulnaye, Espérance, Ferrière-la-Grande, Montataire, Saint-Amand, the Dumont factories and the steelworks of the North and East.

Each of them contributed not only its quota to the collective exhibition, but also its share of materials to the construction of the pavilion, which, according to the plans of Mr. Granet, brings together all the products and by-products of iron, cast iron and steel that can be used in construction.

It is certain that the external appearance had to be sacrificed somewhat to the demands of the programme that the architect had imposed on himself. Nevertheless, he arrived at a rather happy whole, to which a large portal in the forecourt gives an almost monumental appearance. This portico, whose upside-down V-shaped ridge extends far beyond the roof of the pavilion, is supported externally by two strong square pillars. Inside, two other pillars, these round and very elegant, support a very graceful semicircular arch, which is connected to the V-shaped ridge by an ascending and descending colonnade, which is certainly the most successful part of the construction.

On both sides of this portico, the pavilion, which is very rigid and severe, has large windows, separated by flat pillars in the same style as the portico pillars, but smaller.

All these pillars are decorated with artistic cast-iron motifs which, if they do not brighten up the monument considerably, give examples of what cast iron can provide for the ornamentation of façades.

These same ornaments are repeated on the tubular iron eave which supports the oak panel and conceals the meeting points of the angles and posts, also made of tubular iron, which form the framework of the pavilion.

Not even the masonry itself is produced by the associated factories. It is made entirely of bricks and artificial stones, which the factories of Denain and Anzin manufacture with the limestone slag from the blast furnaces of the steelworks.

Inside, the ceiling is made of steel sheet and the beams separating these caissons are simply steel railway sleepers, which for the past twenty years French metallurgists have wanted to see replaced by wooden sleepers.

Strong chains separate the various installations which, as can be seen, did not require much from foreign industries, since, apart from the windows, everything or almost everything comes from the associated factories.

The roof is made of metal. It was made with metal sleepers from Montataire, which provide an excellent roof, very economical and very light, which is not to be despised.

As for the Exhibition itself, suffice it to say that everything that can be obtained from iron, cast iron and steel can be found there, in a remarkably clear classification.

And God knows that today these metals have found a variety of uses.

©Livre d'Or de l'Exposition - Henry Anry.