Turin is one of Europe’s principal centres of automobile engineering, and Fiat’s Lingotto works was its flagship factory. The founder of the Fiat company, Giovanni Agnelli (1866-1945) visited Detroit in 1912, where he reputedly was impressed by the management theories of Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915), and the production methods and concrete-framed factories of the Ford corporation, although some car factories of concrete construction, such as the Savigliano workshops in Corso Mortara, had been built in Turin before the visit.
The Lingotto factory was the last in a series of steel and reinforced concrete buildings designed by Fiat’s director of production, Giacomo Matte-Trucco (1864-1934). It is 507 m long and 24 m wide, with a test track, that was also used by managers for overseeing production, 2.4 km long and 21.3 m above the ground. Motor car production progressed upwards from the ground floor through five storeys. Lingotto expresses the long-lasting belief in Italy in multi-storey car assembly plants, the Italian enthusiasm for concrete construction, and a futuristic conception of industry.
Parts of the factory passed into other uses in the 1980s and production ceased entirely in the early 1990s. The architect Renzo Piano won a competition in 1994 for the rehabilitation of the building which now serves many purposes, accommodating Turin’s Meridien Hotel, a trade exhibition hall, a cinema, a concert hall, a conference centre, the automobile engineering faculty of the University of Turin and an art gallery, the Pinacoteca Giovanni e Mariella Agnelli. The test circuit on the roof is now a jogging track.