In Slovakia, we use the word "Industriál" (noun) as a term covering mainly modern industrial architecture (production buildings), but also the various technical works, including their technological equipment, beginning with the transition from manufactory production to industrial production (in Slovakia as late as the second half of the 19th century). The historical layer represented by the modern Industriál is not only a proof of the economic and technical development of the country during the industrial revolutions, but also a cultural and social phenomenon. It has co-shaped the urban environment and has also, particularly in some regions, significantly changed the rural landscape. Its importance has only been fully acknowledged when it all started to fade away – through active demolition, or its demise through dilapidation. The significance of Industriál as a cultural heritage has thus come into the foreground.
Before 1989, modern industrial heritage fell under the label of 'technical monuments'. Research in this field was reduced to older history and folk technical construction. Not only because the monuments of modern industry were still too young to fulfil the heritage value defined at the beginning of the 20th century by Alois Riegl as "alterswert" ('value of age'), but also from an ideological point of view. During the post-war decades of Czechoslovakia's authoritarian political regime, we uncritically accepted the narrative of Slovakia as a traditionally rural country. Moreover, we cast capitalist industrialists in the role of exploiters. But it was they who co-created the foundations of modern social politics. Yet in research we have still marginalised the industrial heritage.
Modern Industriál is still officially covered by the term ‘technical monument’ in the Slovak heritage discourse, but the methods of its research and assessment are evolving and adapting to the international discourse. Also, in the history and theory of modern architecture, in the last two decades this topic has been pursued much more strongly. It is indisputable that Industriál has played an important role in the development of modern architecture in Slovakia in terms of the use of innovative structures and materials, but also in the use of formal means of architectural expression in terms of the reduction of ornament, or in the rethinking of new functional units - industrial complexes. The interpenetration of these influences in architecture was part of the crystallization of modern principles in architectural design. After all, it is no coincidence that the production halls of the Coburg factory in Trnava (Werner Theiss and Siegfried Jaksch, 1920–1921) are considered to be the very first buildings of modern architecture in Slovakia. In connection with the hydroelectric station in Dolné Kočkovce (Jindřich Merganc, Václav Houdek, 1935), we are accustomed to emphasise the unique poetics of this otherwise utterly functional technical work. Equally characteristic is the emphasis on the application of industrial elements in the building of the headquarters of the Slovak Art Association in Bratislava (Alois Balán, Jiří Grossmann, 1925), a breakthrough building of modernism in Slovakia.
The "Industriál" collection was created as a joint project of the Department of Architecture at the Institute of History of the Slovak Academy of Sciences and the association Čierne diery, combining buildings of this type from the Register of Modern Architecture and the portfolio of Čierne diery. Since 2014, the association has worked to popularize architecture, which, despite a partial improvement in the situation, is still overlooked in Slovakia. Industrial buildings, known from the art prints and books published by Čierne diery, but also the database of photographs outside them, will gradually expand the Register.
The specific character of Industriál has resulted in the fact that we can also find works that are outside the time frame of the 20th century, built before 1900, or buildings whose formal aspect does not reflect the time of their creation, submitting to their own unique function, such as the unique herb drying plant in Hanušovce nad Topľou from the 1930s.