The Most Famous Chimneys of All Time
by Dave Lamb – firstname.lastname@example.org
While chimneys may not be the first structure to come to mind when thinking of the most interesting or unique architecture in the world, these distinctive chimneys will change your perspective. Most chimneys only need to work well and safely, but these unique structures go beyond the parameters of a normal working chimney and instead serve as outstanding pieces of architecture as well.
Of the most notable chimneys in the world, the one designed by Rudolf Steiner, a renowned artist, philosopher, educator and Goethe archivist at the turn of the twentieth century in Switzerland, has a building with the most imposing chimney on top. This one-of-a-kind chimney was finished in 1914 and its unique design still draws attention today. The chimney dominates the building that houses the boiler room for the 15 building complex that makes up The Goetheanum. Called Das Heizhaus, the building is part of a series of buildings that make up the center of the School of Spiritual Science and the Anthroposophical Society in Donarch, Switzerland. Steiner is a spiritual leader and founder of the largest world wide independent school movement, the Waldorf Education system, among many other accomplishments. His philosophy can be seen in his architecture. The boiler room follows the beliefs of Rudolf Steiner that form follows function. Here also his foremost emphasis of integrating nature into his work is made manifest. This trait is seen in the chimney dominated boiler room where the design of leaves seem to be growing out of the chimney walls.
Most Intricately Designed Chimneys
Another artist, Antoni Gaudi, took special care to pay particular attention to the chimneys in the homes he worked on. His designs are known to incorporate magnificent and complex tile work in unique combination of Modernism, Art Nouveou, and his own style. Don’t bother looking it up, although his work appears “gaudy” to many it is not the source of the word! His work is sometimes referred to as “God’s Architecture” and each of his creations today are well known UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Always ahead of his time, Gaudi took care to design each home down to every last detail, even taking time to come up with unique chimney designs for each of his works. Because of the time and care Gaudi took to creatively rethink the look of each chimney he created, three of his works make it into the list of the most notable chimneys in the world. These great architecture works are Casa Mila, Casa Batllo, and Palau Guell.
The Spanish Catalan architect, Gaudi is famous for his tile work and creative art deco designs. One of the unique chimneys Gaudi created is at Casa Mila, an apartment building originally built for a wealthy couple. The chimneys on top of this building are known as espanta bruixes, which means “witch scarers” in Italian. The entire building has a peculiar look to it and even at the time it was built, it was a controversial design, but now the building is highly regarded in the area and visited by tourists and revered by many around the world. The set of ventilation towers on top of the roof of the building look like guards keeping a lookout from the top of the complex.
Along the same lines, on a building restored by Antoni Gaudi, the artist and legend created a colorful variety of chimneys for Casa Batllo. Locally known as the “House of Bones”, Casa Batllo was just like every other Gaudi creation where every part of the building looks distinctly like only his designs do. This includes the lack of straight lines and use of colorful ceramic tiles incorporated into every area of the home. Even the decorative curvy chimneys cheerfully lined the rooftop completely covered in colorful tiles.
The final Gaudi creation with intricately designed chimneys is Palau Guell. The biggest draw of this Gaudi design is the centrally located living room where guests were first received. The entire home is based around this central room. This home, one of the largest Gaudi commissioned projects was ordered by a friend of the designers to have the building created. The chimneys on this home look like objects out of candy land. Each chimney top looks like a piece of cotton candy or fancy lollipop, complete with swirls and bright colors. The home was finished in 1888 and after a recent renovation is now once again open to the public.
We see evidence of earlier chimneys, but perhaps the oldest chimneys still standing are in the massive kitchen building of the 12th-century abbey of Fontevrault, where Henry II of England, his wife, Eleanor of Aquitame, and their son Richard the Lion Heart are buried. The abbey’s five huge wood-burning fireplaces, used for cooking and smoking meat and fish for a monastic community of several hundred persons, are ingeniously connected to 20 pencil-shaped stone chimneys that blend harmoniously with the structure’s Romanesque architecture.
Thornbury castle, located in Thronbury, England is a Tudor style building built in 1511 for the 3rd Duke of Buckingham. The ornate chimneys for the castle were added three years later in 1514. Besides the decorative chimneys, this castle’s claim to fame is that at one point it was confiscated by King Henry VIII who lived there for a short period of time with Anne Boleyn. The castle’s intricately designed chimneys were made from brick that was carved and molded to create the symmetrical designs. Thronbury castle is also known as one of the oldest and most historic homes in England.
Most Chimneys in One Place
The Chateau of Chambord, which Francis I started in 1519, has 365 chimneys, each different, each decked out with sculpted shields, wreaths, columns, animals or nymphs. The building, which was never completed, was constructed by King François I in part to be near to his mistress the Comtesse de Thoury. The Chambord is the largest château in the Loire Valley; it was built to serve as a hunting lodge for François I. The château also features 440 rooms and 84 staircases.
The Tallest Chimney
Currently the record goes to the Ekibastuz GRES-2 Power Station with a 1337 ft tall coal-fueled power generating station that was built in 1987 in Ekibastuz, Kazakhstan. The US currently has a 1217 ft. chimney at another coal burning power station in Homer City, Pennsylvania which falls short of the tallest in the world but the US will be taking back that distinction soon in Arizona with a unique Solar Chimney.
The Largest and Greenest Chimney
A soon-to-be accomplishment in the chimney industry is the building of not only the largest chimney in the world, but also the second largest structure in the entire world. Set to soar to 2625 ft the tower will be twice the size of the Empire State Building and only about 100 feet less than the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest structure) recently completed in Dubai. This “chimney” will be over a half mile high will take solar heated air and draft it up the chimney which will in turn generate power by use of wind turbines inside the structure! This will be the cleanest chimney in the world as well since there is nothing burning, but since it is used to draft air up and into the atmosphere we do consider it a chimney stack none-the-less. Not your average chimney for sure, and no there is no fireplace attached. This feat will be accomplished by an Australian company that will finish building the enormous chimney in 2015. The ground will be broken in Arizona and the project will accumulate a projected cost of $750 million, but once completed it will provide enough energy to supply 200,000 homes in the area with power. The chimney will use the latest technology in solar energy and will be one of the first structures of its type ever built. So, the largest “chimney” in the world will have no smoke! That is good because I don’t think our crews would be up for cleaning this one.
While you may think the amount on creativity one may have with a chimney may be limited, unbelievable developments have been made from the early carved brick to the decorative Gaudi chimneys and now into the future where one enormous chimney will be the center of an environmental initiative!