October 06 2011

Lingotto Fiat: Creative Reuse of Futurist Industrial Structures

While many influential architecture firms, like Bjarke Ingels Group, are attempting to bridge the gap between avant-garde and practical, nearly one hundred years ago, the retro-futuristic Lingotto Fiat Factory in Turin, Italy set the precedent with its combination of innovative form with sensible organization. The Lingotto Fiat Factory is regarded as the first built example of Futurist architecture. This early 20th century movement, influenced by the machine age, rejects historic building precedents and is defined by long horizontal lines suggesting speed and movement.

In 1912, the Fiat company commissioned architect Matte Trucco to design what would become the largest auto factory in the world. Completed in 1923, The Lingotto Fiat complex was his only well-known work. The most striking features of the building are both the enormous size and the elliptical racetrack on the roof; 16,000,000 square feet of floor space were contained within five floors of the complex. Raw materials entered on the ground floor and, during the manufacturing process, cars spiraled up the five floors of the building on giant ramps held up by a rib work of concrete supports on either end of each level. Finished cars exited the building to the rooftop track where they were test driven. Pioneering architect le Corbusier praised the building for its innovative design and he used the unique roof layout as inspiration for his design of Unité d’Habitation.

Eventually, the structure outgrew its usefulness and, in 1982, Fiat made the decision to move it facilities elsewhere. Almost immediately, area residents moved to make the building a landmark and designs for its future use were proposed. Famed Italian architect Renzo Piano won the bid with an urban design for a commercial, and entertainment hub. The building was renovated but its most distinctive feature, the racetrack, was maintained and can still be seen from the top floor. Global Site Plans often features green design and The Lingotto Fiat, in its current incarnation, shows creative reuse of an industrial space and is a dramatic example of form meeting function.

Do you think other outmoded industrial spaces can be revamped, or was this iconoclast structure unique?

Jordan Meerdink

Jordan Meerdink, a former GSP blogger, is a graduate of the The Ohio State University. He holds a B.S. in Architecture with a minor in studio art. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Jordan inherited an early interest in mechanics and construction from his grandfather, a developer who was one of the early practitioners of prefabricated housing, and his father who is a retired store owner and highly capable D.I.Yer. Currently living in New York City, he continues to produce art and furniture with a focus on smart, ecologically responsible design. Jordan has a special concern for design that serves people outside the traditional clientele of architects, with an interest in architecture that deviates from the beaten path, ranging from Baroque churches to dismantled bomb shelters.

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 6th, 2011 at 9:48 am and is filed under Architecture, Content, Engineering, Environmental Design, History/Preservation, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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