Modern slaughterhouses: Buildings of control and reform

Yi Wen Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book or Report/Conference proceedingConference Proceedingpeer-review


This paper traces the ideas, built and unbuilt projects of public slaughterhouses that had effectively reformed traditional private shambles and led to the creation of a new building type. The emergence of the modern slaughterhouse was entangled with the enlightenment rationality to exercise control and reform, which is manifested in the spatial configurations of the then newly developed institutional building types, such as prisons, asylums and slaughterhouses. This paper delineates the two contextual factors that contributed to the rise of modern slaughterhouses: the invention of the production line and slaughter machinery and the subsequent development of modernist proposals for public abattoirs. It then examines the spatial configuration of slaughterhouses and the development of ideas from a two-dimensional production line to a three-dimensional configuration that used gravity to engineer mass animal slaughter. Various ideas for a modern prototype for efficient, hygienic and humane animal slaughter were successively developed along with the early 20th century nascent modernist movement and facilitated by cross-national exchange. The paper concludes with a call for a responsive attitude toward the reuse of slaughterhouse, which serves new social functions for contemporary users to reflect upon the uncomfortable social and physical spaces that exist within societies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication16th International Docomomo Conference Tokyo Japan 2020+1 Proceedings - Inheritable Resilience
Subtitle of host publicationSharing Values of Global Modernities
EditorsAna Tostoes, Yoshiyuki Yamana
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9784904700785
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event16th International Docomomo Conference Tokyo Japan 2020+1 - Tokyo, Japan
Duration: 29 Aug 20212 Sept 2021

Publication series

NameInheritable Resilience: Sharing Values of Global Modernities - 16th International Docomomo Conference Tokyo Japan 2020+1 Proceedings


Conference16th International Docomomo Conference Tokyo Japan 2020+1


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