Iconic Fiat factory transformed into huge rooftop garden
The iconic Lingotto factory in Turin, Italy, is a building that's beloved by architecture fans and petrol-heads alike. Previously home to Fiat's manufacturing and testing facilities, including a test track on its roof, it has now begun a new chapter hosting a huge rooftop garden.
Designed by architect Giacomo Matté-Trucco, the Lingotto factory originally opened in 1923. The gorgeous modernist building measures 500 m (1,640 ft) in length and reaches a height of 28 m (91 ft). While in use, it had an interesting interior layout that involved car parts entering on the ground floor and a finished car emerging at the top, ready to be put through its paces on the looping rooftop test track, which measures 1 km (0.62 miles).
Once car production came to an end on the site in 1982, there was a lot of discussion about what to do with the hulking structure. Thankfully, it dodged demolition and instead received a refresh courtesy of Renzo Piano, who transformed it into a mixed-use office and retail building and added the distinctive glass ball meeting space seen in the photo above, which Piano recently replicated with his Oscars building.
The rooftop garden project is the latest major addition to the evolving site and is named La Pista 500. It was commissioned by Fiat and designed by Benedetto Camerana, of Camerana & Partners. Drawing inspiration from New York City's High Line, it involved planting 40,000 plants, bushes and shrubs around the test track.
Elsewhere there are relaxation areas, pedestrian walks, an athletics track, a fitness area, a play area, plus a yoga and meditation area. Artworks and exhibitions are also being hosted in the space. It's actually hailed as Europe's largest hanging garden by Camerana, though Paris' Nature Urbaine is a little larger – albeit the French project is a working rooftop farm and not strictly a garden.
Obviously, all that greenery will need a lot of water, with 20,094 m (almost 66,000 ft) of irrigation pipes required to keep it all watered. However, the architects did take some steps to mitigate the water usage, choosing local and drought-resistant plants, as well as water-saving cultivation techniques.
"The garden develops as a contemporary linear park with 28 large islands covering just over 7,000 sq m [75,000 sq ft] of the 27,000 sq m [290,600 sq ft] available," explained Benedetto Camerana. "It hosts more than 40,000 plants belonging to 300 species and varieties chosen with an ecological criterion, so there are only plants from the Piedmontese and neighboring areas, also distributed according to seasonal color variations. For their cultivation, new conception techniques have been adopted that have drastically reduced the consumption of water and fertilizers, a choice dictated by sustainability criteria."
Alongside the rooftop garden, a Fiat 500-themed cafe and museum area has also recently opened in the Lingotto building. This space features an eye-catching wooden interior design created by Studio Lamatilde, including a wooden model of a Fiat 500 and an exhibition on the car's history, plus views of the test track and garden.
Additionally, in a nice touch, if you'd like to unleash your inner Michael Caine and re-enact that Italian Job car chase scene yourself, there's also an opportunity for visitors to test drive Fiat's electric 500, plus other electric vehicles, on the famous test track.