Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) has taken a novel approach to designing a new factory and HQ for Italian tomato firm Mutti. The project features a visitor's center with walls made from glass tomato sauce jars – tomatotecture, if you will – as well as a terrace allowing the public to watch the tomatoes being processed.
Located near Parma, northern Italy, the plan for the Mutti factory is for it to become a destination for tourists and locals.
"We were inspired by Pablo Neruda's poem 'Oda al Tomate', which is also one of Mutti's slogans," explains Carlo Ratti, founding partner of CRA. "La calle se llenó de tomates ('The street was filled with tomatoes) is a way to show how the factory can open up and project outwards. We imagined the Mutti plant to be like an open-air theater: both open to the public, and to the surrounding landscape."
The project will re-envision the site on which the Mutti factory has been located for the last 100 years and include landscaping and new office space. Most notably though, the transparent walls of the new visitor's center will comprise thousands of glass tomato sauce jars and measure 400 ft (120 m)-long and 23 ft (7 m)-high. It's not clear whether the red logo lettering will be made from full jars, but that would be a nice touch.
It will be lit at night and include a restaurant surrounded by an orchard, an auditorium for events, and a control room showing different stages of tomato processing.
Atop the visitor's center, a public terrace will allow people to watch fresh tomatoes being processed. They will be poured down into wash basins in their millions, allowing visitors to admire the sight of tomatoes falling down in an "endless red cascade," as the firm puts it.
We reached out for more information on the glass jar walls and a company representative indicated that as the project is still in its early stages, it's still working out the best method to implement the design.
Construction is expected to begin next year, with completion slated for 2023.
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