Lingotto

Interview & Photography by: Mart Engelen

Gianni Agnelli, Lingotto-Turin, Italy 1997
 

Gianni Agnelli, Lingotto-Turin, Italy 1997

Photo by Helmut Newton


 

Engineer Matté Trucco began designing the Lingotto building in 1915, drawing inspiration from North American industrial architecture and employing the same methods used by Hennebique for the reinforced-concrete structures at the Ford factories. The building is in the Nizza Millefonti district, nestled between the Via Nizza and a branch of the Turin railway link. With a volume of one million cubic metres, a length of 500 metres and a height of five storeys, the Lingotto building was the first example of modular reinforced concrete construction based on the repetition of three constituent elements, columns, beams and floor sections, and was the largest car factory in the world at the time. The workshops for manufacturing the vehicles were composed of two longitudinal elements of over 500 metres in length linked by five multi-level transverse elements accommodating facilities for the personnel. Two spiral ramps were added between 1924 and 1926 connecting the ground floor directly to the test track, which was located on the building’s roof.
 
The track consisted of two straights of over 400 metres in length connected by parabolic curves that could be taken at 90 km/h. The Office Block, built in 1926, was dedicated to management, administration, canteen and other services. For its time, the Lingotto building was avant-garde, influential and impressive. Le Corbusier called it “One of the most impressive sights in industry and a guideline for town planning”. Eighty different models of car, including the FIAT Topolino, Torpedo, Balilla and many others, were produced during its lifetime. The factory became outmoded in the 1970s and the decision to finally close it was made in 1982. The closure of the plant led to much public debate about its future and how to recover from industrial decline in general. In 1985, Genoese architect Renzo Piano became responsible for the restructuring. His Renzo Piano Building Workshop’s project had two objectives: to revive the factory by transforming it into a multi-purpose centre and to maintain its architectural identity.
 
Over the years, the various areas of the Lingotto have been converted and now encompass the Lingotto Fiere exhibition centre (1992), the Lingotto Conference Centre (1995) and the Giovanni Agnelli Auditorium (1994), two hotels the NH Lingotto and NH Lingotto Tech (formerly the Le Meridien) (1995), a service centre, offices, shopping area with bars and restaurants (2002) and a heliport. The management headquarters of FIAT returned to the Office Block in 1997. The Giovanni and Marella Agnelli Art Gallery was inaugurated in 2002.

 
- Copyright 2014 Mart Engelen
 
 
 

The Lingotto rooftop test track, 1925
 

The Lingotto rooftop test track, 1925

 
 

Lingotto 2013
 

Lingotto 2013

 
 

Lingotto factory, Turin 2013
 

Lingotto factory, Turin 2013