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The industrial imprint : Officine Grandi Motori : recovery the area on the traces of its past

Nison Santanera

The industrial imprint : Officine Grandi Motori : recovery the area on the traces of its past.

Rel. Silvia Malcovati, Christian Rapp, Haike Appelt. Politecnico di Torino, Corso di laurea magistrale in Architettura Costruzione Città, 2015



The work subject of the present thesis is the result of a year-lasting collaboration between the Polytechnic University of Turin and Eindhoven Technical University’s Chair of Rational Architecture, guided by Professor Silvia Malcovati as Italian Supervisor and Professor Christian Rapp together with Haike Apelt as Dutch Supervisors.

The exchange Project focused on the city of Turin and bears the name “Gran Torino Graduation Studio”

The work was focused on the city of Turin and involved sixteen students of both universities. Starting from a typo-morphological analysis on the architectures of the city, from its Roman past until the most recent times, it concluded with sixteen individual designs developed from each single students research question, in which the outcomes of the first analysis were also taken into account.

The researches carried out in the first semester of work led to the publication of Gran Torino Atlas, which provides a complete overview on the city development, together with those architectural changes that accompanied it along the centuries. The first months of work was mainly dedicated to the above mentioned publication: each of the teams, made up of an Italian student and a Dutch one, dealt with one among the different chapters that the Atlas consists of.

Within the Program the Italian students were given the chance to spend five months in Eindhoven working on their individual thesis, collaborating with Dutch students and learning from the Dutch method.

With these premises, each of the single individual path proceeded.

As far as it concerns my topic of interest, carried out and analyzed over the past twelve months, I decided to focus on a crucial phase of Turin’s history, that is the rise and development of the industrial era between the 19th and 20th centuries.

This was the field analyzed within the chapter that I worked on in the first semester, together with my Dutch mate, which led us to address our interest in a specific part of the city, the North of Turin, particularly remarkable at the dawn of the industrial future.

What made this area in Turin especially attractive for setting factories was mainly the peculiar morphological characteristics of the area, together with the presence of efficient infrastructures. In addition to that, it should be mentioned the initiatives carried out by Turin’s Municipality, with economical subsidies to encourage a recovery of un-healthy central areas, together with a relocation of factories further from it towards the border.

The logic behind the draft of the whole Atlas was that of proceeding step by step from a topic of interest to the analysis of architectures which best represented it. In my specific case, dealing with the Industrial era, I could not but keep into account the FIAT case, an aspect which brought to the choice of three different case studies: the first seat in Corso Dante, the second Officine Grandi Motori, finally the last step, correspondent to Fiat’s Mirafiori.

Each of the case studies corresponds to a specific moment in the development of Fiat history. The one with interested me the most was the OGM, because on the

one hand it is the only one, among them, which still waits for new changes to occur, and on the other it is located in the North of the city, an area which, as it will be later said more in depth, is of special remark when dealing with early factories.

All these reasons would have let me to focus more and more on it and to finally choose this area for my individual design in the second semester.

That of the industrial dismissal is not only a matter of environmental consequences, nor merely economical either. It is especially in recent times that a new sensitivity arose, new values have been acknowledged to these structures witness of the past. However, there is still one aspect about the issue which would deserve to be kept into account, and it is about the effect that these voids have on the urban shape today.

The urban influence of these remains ought better not to be underestimated. We are expected to change our approach towards these kind of situations: it is not only a matter of individuating worthy structures and preserve them, but instead to reconnect them within a urban network of relationships. Not simply “peripheries”, then, rather instead points in the city still able to affect their surrounding and to interrelate with one another. Architects would better care about the uniqueness of these places and strive to recover a kind of continuity in the transformation of the city, giving back to these structures a urban role.

The industrial era in Turin experienced a kind of “rise and Fall” process, after which the Municipality had to face with the need to re-think many of these former factories. Some of them where completely thrown down and substituted by new structures and function, on the other hand some seem to have been almost forgotten and “left in a corner”, while others have been labelled as “in transformation” and are simply waiting for new intervention to give them a new future.

It has been since 1995, when the PRG (Municipal Urban Law) by Gregotti e Cagnardi was finally approved, that Turin witnessed the envisagement of a series of brand new “possibilities” for many areas remained forgotten for too much time. This solution can be translated in reality through complete substitution of former fabrics and function, as well as in a more discrete way, somehow preserving memory of the past.

The possibility to individuate new function for these buildings, seen as a kind of “empty holders”, free from their original function, allowed to experiments new ways of organizing the space in these contexts.

The preliminary step in this kind of situations must be, first of all, to undertand the place to adequate the urban structures to today need as better as possible.

When I had to conceive my own proposal for the OGM area, from the very beginning I wanted it to be coherent and reasonable in accordance with the surrounding, keeping therefore into account the past when designing the future of an area. My aim was to find a method which allowed to think of a proposal related with the history and the shape of the place.

Such an ambition was not easy to turn into practice. It was also through the reading of many publications that my ideas slowly took their shape, and I cannot but mention what can be considered the major point of reference that I kept into account on the draft of my work. “L’impronta industriale. Analisi della forma urbana e progetto di trasformazione delle aree produttive dismesse” by deals exactly with the relationship between big industrial areas and the structure of contemporary cities, at the same time underlining the role of those structures in future scenarios for the city.

Its author, moves from an acknowledgements of contemporary situation, the same one already depicted in previous lines, in which interventions of this kind seems to be carried out randomly and without being linked with one another nor with the rest of the city. What the book provides is especially a lesson, a methodology, according to which any new gesture on the city has to start from preliminary studies and to take into account its identity.

A valid way, as the author herself recognizes, is to deal with this kind of topic recurring to a typological method, with the aim of envisaging proper solutions to this kind of urban issues, to reconnect this “broken pieces” of Turin with the rest of the city in a way which is not alien to its identity.

The typological method, indeed, potentially provides the architect with the tools to conceive proposals for the city which “speak the same language of the past”. Moreover, it allows to better comprehend the space on the light of its history and its ancient morphological configuration assumed over the decades.

The awareness on the importance of this strategic witnesses of the industrial past ought not to leave the designer indifferent when called to intervene in areas of this kind.

Another aspect that would better not remain ignored, regards functions. Again, as already observed, we need interventions of wider views, beyond the scale of the single building. Industrial structures are not to be seen as a system of structures unlinked from one another, rather instead as components in a network of polarities whose value is mainly up to what happens inside of their built borders.

sign with a special care for the memory of the place, trying to fix the ancient consolidated image of it, to preserve structures as much as possible and therefore to respect the “imprint” that the past left here, adapting it to contemporary needs where circumstances required it.

In order to do that, as it will be shown later more in depth, I found no better inputs of those ones provided by the lessons on typology.

The present works opens with a framework on the Industrial Turin of the glorious years. It later proceeds, in the second chapter, dealing with the typological method that I intend to take as guidance and therefore linking all these theoretical concepts to the case of the industrial Turin. As a last point, without ever forgetting the lesson and the technical tools provided in the page of the above mentioned “Impronta industriale”, the fourth chapter finally concludes all this path of researches and analysis with my design proposal for the OGM area, whose main goal is that of giving back the city this strategic area and keep it alive.

Relators: Silvia Malcovati, Christian Rapp, Haike Appelt
Publication type: Printed
Subjects: A Architettura > AF Buildings and equipment for leisure, social activities, sport
A Architettura > AH Buildings and equipment for the home
U Urbanistica > UK Pianificazione urbana
Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea magistrale in Architettura Costruzione Città
Classe di laurea: UNSPECIFIED
Aziende collaboratrici: UNSPECIFIED
URI: http://webthesis.biblio.polito.it/id/eprint/4315


1 The industrial city

1.1 Turin, late 19th - 20th Century

1.2 The Urbanization of Turin 1899-1922

1.3 The Densification of Turin Industry

1.4 The Industrial Dismissal

2 How to approach dismissed industrial areas

2.1 Typological research

2.2 Different typological approaches from the past

3 Typological approach in Turin

3.1 Urban development in north of Turin

3.2 Three main typologies in the area

4 From Typological approach to design

4.1. Guidelines

4.2 The new proposal design


Image References




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