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Saltworks of Arc et Senans

Besancon, France, Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans central building facade

The famous royal salt works from Arc-et-Senans, at Besancon, France, were designed in the eighteenth century and was a very important salt mining.

Building history

On September 20, 1771 was Claude-Nicolas Ledoux appointed Commissioner for the salt works in Lorraine and Franche-Comte. Under this function Ledoux inspected the various salt works, which enabled him to get an idea of just how effective a plant should look like-b-.
In 1773 Ledoux asked King Louis XVI to build a salt work (les Salines) at Arc-et-Senans. This place was chosen for its proximity to the vast royal forest Chaux. The timber had been necessary because of evaporation. The first stone was laid on April 15, 1775, but the actual end of the construction is not much known.

Ledoux equipped it with sufficient design buildings for at least 6,000,000 pounds of salt per year to produce. Besides the buildings for the workers, had to the crown also to build a house for the director and his family, a reception room, a clerk and a prison.
Ledoux first design was rejected. In his second plan, he draw the pavilions and he made sure that they were separated for skipping fires, which the oven can result there from.

Design and Architecture

The salt breeding buildings were put for security reasons by Ledoux in separate buildings and distributed in the form of a semicircle. This half circle had a diameter of 370 meters. In this figure was placed, both the machines and houses.
In the design you can find influences of the garden architecture, such as the rational and geometric layout of buildings. Like all other saltworks she was, because the salt smuggling, protected by a boundary wall. On the outside that wall was reinforced by a moat. The area between the wall and the buildings from the semicircle was used for growing food.


The complex consists of eleven of the saltworks in neoclassical style buildings. From the central square you can see five buildings forming a circle. They consist of three parts: a central, raised area with two storey pyramid, and two arched wings consists in two separated buildings, the director's house and the building of the guard, which is also the only entrance to the complex.
The increasing competition from sea salt by the construction of railways, the factory didn`t lasted long and was not profitable and in 1895 it was closed. In 1982 the salt breeding buildings were placed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO.