Dyckerhoff & Widmann (Dywidag)

Doctoral thesis dealing with early concrete construction in Germany, supported by a scholarship for gifted students of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung 2007−09
Project period: 2007−10

Deutsche Version

The building company Dyckerhoff & Widmann –
Early concrete construction in Germany 1865–1918

The establishment of concrete in the German building industry is often ascribed to the architects of the period of Modernism. What is frequently forgotten, however, is that companies as Dyckerhoff & Widmann (formerly Cementwaarenfabrik Lang & Cie., Karlsruhe, later Dywidag) already laid the crucial bases for the application of the new building material since the 1860s. So far researchers though have shown little interest in concrete building companies. Even important companies are only mentioned in passing; in most cases biographical information concerning central protagonists is rarely available.

With reference to the company Dyckerhoff & Widmann the doctoral thesis will show which role the companies played for the establishment of concrete in Germany and how they strongly influenced the architectural development. The thesis will approach this question on several levels. A central point will be the analysis of the innovations in concrete technology and construction techniques initiated by the company-owned laboratories and planning departments. In this context biographical information of central protagonists shall be investigated. Who were the „inventors“ and what enabled them to create the innovations which construction engineers and architects later adopted? Another important point will be the study of the structural and organizational innovations of the young companies. How and when did the owners of the company Dyckerhoff & Widmann, especially Eugen Dyckerhoff (1844-1924) and Gottlieb Widmann (1817-1894), assign industrial methods to the building industry traditionally dominated by craftsmen? Moreover, particular attention shall be given to the active association and press work of the young concrete industry, which influenced the image of the new material specifically with exhibitions and publications.

The company Dyckerhoff & Widmann gradually established concrete in Germany. Within a few decades it developed from a small factory for concrete components to a nationwide operating building company. The thesis will reconstruct the single steps of this development presenting central buildings and objects as examples. An extensive catalogue of buildings shall provide an overview of the complete works of the company during the investigation period. Furthermore, the catalogue will form an important starting point for future research on single objects which have hardly been considered up to now.

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More on this topic:

Book (in German): Knut Stegmann, Das Bauunternehmen Dyckerhoff & Widmann − Zu den Anfaengen des Betonbaus in Deutschland 1865−1918, Tuebingen/Berlin: Ernst Wasmuth 2014.

Article: Knut Stegmann, Globalizing building technique – A case study on the “Centennial Hall” in Wroclaw, in: Bryan Dewalt and Nina Moellers (eds.), Objects in Motion: Globalizing Technology, Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, forthcoming (Artefacts: Studies in the History of Science and Technology, 10).

Article: Knut Stegmann, Experimental Cultures in Early Concrete Construction, in: Brian Bowen et al. (eds.), Proceedings of the Fifth International Congress on Construction History, Chicago: Construction History Society of America 2015, vol. 3, pp. 387–394. (free PDF)

Article: Knut Stegmann, Introducing concrete: German concrete firms at exhibitions before 1914, in: Engineering History and Heritage vol. 165 (2012), issue 3, pp. 127–136 (abstract und full text at ICE Virtual Library).

Article: Knut Stegmann, Early Concrete Constructions in Germany – A Review with Special Regard to the Building Company Dyckerhoff & Widmann, in: Karl-Eugen Kurrer, Werner Lorenz and Volker Wetzk (eds.), Proceedings of the Third International Congress on Construction History, Berlin: Neunplus1 2009, vol. 3, pp. 1371–1378 (free PDF).

Article (in German): Knut Stegmann, Zu den deutschen Anfängen des Bauens mit Beton. Der Stampfbetonpionier Eugen Dyckerhoff (1844–1924), in: Beton- und Stahlbetonbau vol. 106 (2011), issue 6, pp. 415–424 (abstract and full text at Wiley).

Article (in German):  Knut Stegmann, “Dyckerhoff & Widmann (Dywidag)”, in: Stadt Wiesbaden (ed.), Stadtlexikon Wiesbaden (online version), Wiesbaden: 2014 (free full text).

Article (in German:) Knut Stegmann, Die Dywidag-Versuchsschale in Wiesbaden-Biebrich von 1931. Ein Beitrag zur Frühgeschichte des Stahlbeton-Schalenbaus in Deutschland, in: Beton- und Stahlbetonbau 111 (2016), issue 8, pp. 532–538. (free PDF).

Article (in German): Knut Stegmann: Globalizing Building Technique – The Centennial Hall in Wrocław, in: Nina Möllers and Bryan Dewalt (eds.), Objects in Motion: Globalizing Technology, Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press 2016 (= Artefacts. Studies in the History of Science and Technology, 10), pp. 2–21.

Article (in German): Knut Stegmann, Die Wiesbadener Dywidag-Versuchsschale von 1931, in: Industriekultur 22 (2016), issue 3, pp. 10–11.

Article (in German): Knut Stegmann, »Eine Zukunft für die Dywidag-Kuppel!« – Zur Geschichte und den Bemühungen um eine Neuaufstellung der Biebricher Versuchsschale von 1931, in: Denkmalpflege & Kulturgeschichte (2016), issue 4, pp. 10–16 (with M. von Engelberg).