The photographer headed to Turin to explore FIAT’s iconic – though abandoned – testing track for this exclusive photo story
Designed by Matte Trucco and opened in 1923, Lingotto is an ex-car factory situated in the suburbs of Turin. Originally home to Italian car manufacturer FIAT, its unusual design is dominated by a spiral track at the centre of the building that saw cars travel upwards as they made their way through the various stages of production. This process culminated with the cars emerging onto the roof for their final examination – a lap or two of a car testing track that stretches round the building’s entire circumference, with steep banked 180 degree turns at either end. The factory eventually closed its doors in 1982 and the test track hasn’t been used since.
I visited Lingotto this summer; it felt strange leaving the neo-classical architecture of Turin’s centre to visit what is now a concrete shopping centre in the periphery of the city. After navigating my way down the endless hallways lined with mannequins clad in the latest designer rip-offs, I found myself on the fifth floor. Access to the roof is via an art gallery that displays the work collected by the Agnelli family, the owners of FIAT. It was playing host to a fantastic exhibition celebrating Jean Prouve, a French furniture designer and architect, along with a tiny – but equally great – permanent collection which includes works by Matisse, Picasso, Modigliani, and Manet. Not a bad cultural aperitif.
Being British, I’d been led to expect a lot of red tape and jobs-worthy guards when entering a space known for its lack of use and, therefore, slight dilapidation. And so it was with pleasant surprise that I found no strict enforcement of ‘limited access to the public’, which I’m so used to. I was waved through by a single cheerful gatekeeper who encouraged me to wander around the entire space, totally uninhibited.
It was a joy to interact with such a vast and interesting piece of architecture, and this was amplified tenfold by the fact that I was alone, free to explore without the hindrance of health and safety measures, nor the mental distraction of other people pointing cameras. These photographs are a document of this solitary exploration, a simple one kilometre walk around the most astounding rooftop I’ve ever experienced – although part of me does wish it had been at 70mph in a brand new FIAT!