Transparent Factory is the English name of an automobile production plant owned by German carmaker Volkswagen, designed by architect Gunter Henn, and opened in 2002. The original German name is Gläserne Manufaktur (factory made of glass, literally vitreous manufactory). Both the German and English names are a word play on the double meaning of transparent and glassy, referring to both optical transparency and transparency of the production process.
The main purpose of the factory is the assembly of Volkswagen's luxury sedan, the Phaeton. Spare capacity was also used to construct Bentley Continental Flying Spur vehicles destined for the European market until 2006, when all work was transferred to Bentley's plant in Crewe, England.
The Transparent Factory is situated in the city center of Dresden, the 800-year-old baroque city known for its arts and craftsmanship. It stands at the former location of the convention center. The factory's walls are made almost completely of glass. 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 smokestacks, no loud noises, and no toxic byproducts. Volkswagen has planted 350 trees in the grounds.<ref name=Car200208>Template:Cite journal</ref>
The transparent factory handles final assembly only. Operations such as stamping and welding and the painting of the steel bodies take place in Zwickau. Painted bodies arrive at the factory by truck. The other 1200 parts and 34 preassembled components are shipped to a remote logistics center and are transferred from there to the factory by CarGoTrams that run on Dresden's public transport tracks.
In addition to its function as a working automobile factory, the Gläserne Manufaktur also provides visitors with a series of educational attractions pertaining to the VW "Phaeton" vehicles undergoing on-site final finish production. The visitor attractions, designed by award winning experience designer Bob Rogers (designer) and the design team BRC Imagination Arts,<ref name="Volkswagen Gläserne Manufaktur">Template:Cite web</ref> include Vision World, a multimedia "global theater" that allows visitors to take the pulse of the planet in real time; the Virtual Test drive, featuring a real VW Phaeton combined with motion base technology and computer generated scenery; a computer-based Car Configurator that enables visitors to design the VW Phaeton of their dreams; an interactive Techwall explaining the workings of the Phaeton’s "infotainment" system; a Virtual Production Tour; and a media-enhanced Delivery Experience for customers taking possession of new vehicles.
The German TV channel ZDF occasionally produces a philosophical panel discussion in the Transparent Factory, "Das philosophische Quartett" (The Philosophical Quartet).
To keep birds from flying into the glass, an outdoor speaker system emulates bird language marking the territory as "taken".
CarGoTram used to deliver parts to the Transparent Factory
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Car tower of the Volkswagen Transparent Factory in Dresden
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location of the Transparent Factory in the park Großer Garten