Lingotto is a district of Turin, Italy, and the location of the Lingotto building in Via Nizza. This building once housed an automobile factory built by Fiat. Construction started in 1916 and the building opened in 1923. The design by young architect Matté Trucco was unusual in that it had five floors, with raw materials going in at the ground floor, and cars built on a line that went up through the building. Finished cars emerged at rooftop level, where there was a rooftop test track. It was the largest car factory in the world at that time. For its time, the Lingotto building was avante-garde, influential and impressive. Le Corbusier called it "one of the most impressive sights in industry", and "a guideline for town planning". 80 different models of car were produced there in its lifetime, including the Fiat Topolino of 1936.
The factory became outmoded in the 1970s and the decision was made to finally close it in 1982. The closure of the plant led to much public debate about its future, and how to recover from industrial decline in general. An architectural competition was held, which was eventually awarded to Renzo Piano, who envisioned an exciting public space for the city. The old factory was rebuilt into a modern complex, with concert halls, theatre, a convention centre, shopping arcades and a hotel. The eastern portion of the building is the headquarter of the Automotive Engineering faculty of the Polytechnic University of Turin. The work was completed in 1989. The track was retained, and can still be visited today on the top floor of the shopping mall and hotel.
The only similar rooftop test track was in Nessonvaux, Trooz, Belgium. From 1928 to 1958, Imperia had a track over 1 km long which was built partially on top of the factory.
“…this vast, five-storey, reinforced concrete industrial loft is still in use. The five floors are ordered sequentially to provide for (1) maintenance and motor testing (2) engine machining and body assembly, (3) gear box and differential steering, (4) spraying, upholstering, suspension and differential steering, (5) lorry production and (6) testing. This last takes place in the open air, on the roof where a banked reinforced concrete racetrack has been provided, on an area measuring 1680 feet by 260 feet. At the ends the banking to this track rises some 15 feet in 55 feet and this activation of the roof, together with its highly sculptural form was to inspire Le Corbusier’s conception of the roofscape for his Unité apartment block built at Marseilles in 1952.”
“…this is a pioneering work in the application of reinforced concrete construction to an industrial plant. It was designed significantly enough by a naval engineer. Accommodating some 6,000 workers in 16,000,000 square foot of floor space, it was an undertaking of unprecedented size. From a structural point of view, however, the most remarkable innovation was the helicoidal car ramps at either end of the block which were braced by an extremely elegant system of reinforced concrete ribs, a system which in retrospect recalls the theoretical projects of de Baudot and seems to anticipate the later realizations of Pier Luigi Nervi, such as his Gatti Wool factory built at Rome in 1953.”
— in Modern Architecture written by Kenneth Frampton and Yukio Futagawa
The Lingotto building is featured extensively in the Alberto Lattuada film Mafioso (1962). The original Lingotto rooftop test track features briefly in the getaway sequence in the film The Italian Job (1969). Lingotto is the site of the Oval Lingotto, the speed skating venue for the 2006 Winter Olympics. The building is also featured in the fourth episode of the 20th season of The Amazing Race, originally aired in the US on March 11, 2012.