Yet another incredible architecture: Lingotto rooftop

Last week in Torino, Italy, I spent some time in the Lingotto building which was a huge FIAT car factory built from 1916 and opened in 1923. A place Le Corbusier called it "one of the most impressive sights in industry", and "a guideline for town planning". It's now a complex, with concert halls, theatre, a convention centre, shopping arcades and the hotel where I was staying.

Lingotto rooftop test track

The most impressive part if of course the rooftop track for testing cars. I ain't a car enthusiast by any means but that piece of architecture is very intriguing to observe. Especially, if you consider how it has been pointed out as an "example for the future". According to Jonathan Glancey in Architectural Review:

"The Futurists claimed that 'Fiat Lingotto was the first built invention of Futurism', although Matte-Trucco (1869-1934) was a level-headed, if adventurous, structural engineer, much indebted to Albert Kahn, and very much not a Futurist. His famous reinforced-concrete factory boasting a test-bed race-track on the roof, and now remodelled as a civic, commercial and arts centre, by Renzo Piano (AR November 1996), was designed very much in line with Giovanni Agnelli's curt instruction: 'You will not be allowed to enter the Biennale Exhibition. You must have no aesthetic concerns. That's how you must work for industry.' Matte-Trucco did not question his FIAT boss. The result, in any case, was a masterpiece, a building that was all but mythical before it was completed."

Lingotto rooftop test track

Wandering around the track is still a curious experience, especially when the weather's very hot. The ground looks like a skateboarding grip and the curves are quite steep as attested by how Mr. Greenfield is taking care not to slip:

Lingotto rooftop test track

Moreover, the structure is not only about a flat rooftop... there is also the path to get the car on the very roof: Lingotto rooftop test track

Why do I blog this? Like the Atomium, la Grande motte, this piece is inspiring to me as it exemplifies the avantgarde of the industrial era... the very presence of a tremendously big testbed as part of the architecture of the factory. Surely an interesting remnant from a past future, relevant to keep in mind when doing foresight research. Both in terms of urban and design research.