Start talking about an abandoned car factory and most people will glaze over pretty quickly. However, when talking about Fiat’s Lingotto plant in Turin, all you need to do is mention that ‘it’s the one with the test track on the roof’ and you’ll pretty quickly have almost anyone’s attention. Test track or not the Lingotto plant was a truly revolutionary piece of architecture, so much that Le Corbusier labeled it “one of the most impressive sights in industry” and “a guideline for town planning”. Oh, and the fact that it was used in the original Italian Job movie (along with most of Turin, mind you), means it was a must see attraction on a recent visit to Italy’s motor city.
Lingotto still dominates the skyline of Turin – 5 levels high and half a kilometer long (a full kilometer if you count additional buildings either side), the plant was constructed over five years beginning in 1916 as somewhat of a response by Fiat tsar Giovanni Agnelli to Henry Ford’s revolutionary production line in Michigan. This photograph was taken at some point in 1928.
The design was by the young and unknown architect Matte Trucco around a rather ingenious solution to a lack of space – raw materials entered from the foundries and press shops at the bottom, and the production line wound its way up the five floors using clever ramps at each end. The finished product was test driven on the roof, before being brought back down via another ramp and loaded onto waiting trucks to be whisked away to the lucky new owner. Continue reading