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European Building Design

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

European Building Design

Article excerpt

THE CONSTRUCTION OF new newspaper plants in Europe has been driven by a desire to install the latest technology -- particularly to produce color -- and to shift production to the edge of cities to make distribution easier.

The former East Germany has seen a boom in plant construction, as western German publishers have bought up newspapers in the east and brought their production facilities up to date. In some cases, this has meant replacing letterpresses.

Boris Fuchs, research director and deputy managing director of IFRA, the Darmstadt-based international association for newspaper and media technology, said that 15 regional newspapers in eastern Germany "have already built or are in the process of building" new printing plants and adding equipment.

Britain has seen a spate of pressroom construction, particularly among regional newspapers. Eastern Counties Newspapers in Norwich, England, is constructing a new press building at a cost of [pound]23 million ($36 million). Preliminary work began around 1990, and a decision to go ahead was made about two years ago. Printing is scheduled to begin at the new building around the middle of next year.

Ken Hustler, project director at Eastern Counties Newspapers, said the decision to build the plant was influenced by the desire to replace a press that is more than 20 years old with one that has the latest technology and increased color capacity. The new press will allow the company to double its normal daily color output of four broadsheet and eight tabloid pages. The press will also operate at a maximum of 70,000 copies an hour, twice the present top speed.

Norwich's total print run of more than a million copies a week includes the 90,000-circulation morning Eastern Daily Press, the 50,000-circulation Evening News and 20 weekly titles, both free and paid. The company expects that the high-quality color produced by the press will help bring in contract work. Such a prospect is particularly attractive to British regional newspapers, which are still feeling the effects of recession.

The new press building will be three and a half miles away from the present plant in the center of Norwich, a city of 128,000 people. The papers will continue to be edited in Norwich, which will transmit pages digitally to the new plant.

A long-term option, Hustler said, will be the transfer of all operations to the new site.

The plant will cover 70,000 square feet on a nine-acre site in a business park that has another, commercial, tenant. Good road access for distribution, Hustler said, makes the location "particularly attractive."

The local authorities, he added, "wanted the development to go ahead. They were encouraging and very helpful." But they were "not yes men."

Given the height of the building -- 64 feet, to accommodate a four-high press configuration -- the authorities pushed for, and got, landscaping.

This, Hustler said, "involved a certain amount of discussion between ourselves and the planners and the architects." The project, he said, produced no unpleasant surprises. "Perhaps it was because we spent two years before we actually made the firm decision to go ahead, researching things so thoroughly."

Project architect David Ford said the press configuration caused some engineering problems, "bearing in mind it was being fixed to a slab which was about 5. …

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