Gazing on other people doing their job and work is a popular tourism passtime. Building and constructions workers often find themselves in the middle of a show, where both children and adults following the fascinating growth of built structures. Some builder make “windows” which allow (and regulate) the gazing.
The Dresden Volkswagen plant has gone one step further. Its so-called “Transparent Factory” opened in 2002. The building is made of glass. It is however, also transparent in its production philosophy. The company wants to show what car manufacturing is about, and not the least the luxury cars catch some attention. The factory’s walls are made almost completely of glass, and some of the activities can be observed from outside. Inside, its floors are covered entirely in Canadian maple. Its visitor-friendly layout was designed to accommodate up to 250 tourists per day. There are no chimneys, no loud noises, and no toxic byproducts.
The transparent factory handles final assembly only. Operations such as stamping and welding and the painting of the steel bodies take place in another part of the country.
Of course this is about selling cars and enhancing the image of the product. But it is also a matter of corporate social and environmental responsibility. And an opportunity to educate tourists in the engineering excellence of Germany.