Design, Sustainability posts


Wonders and Blunders


Lingotto Building, Turin, Italy. First designed by Matte Trucco in 1916–1923, refurbishment by Renzo Piano 1983–2002.

Aime 2000, La Plagne, Savoie, France. Design by Michel Bezancon 1968–1969.

The Lingotto building in Turin (the former Fiat Factory) is both a structural tour de force as well as a fantastic example of how to keep and re-use our existing built environment. Originally designed by the engineer Matté Trucco in 1923 the building unabashedly reveals its’ structural bones in places like the organic spiral ramps which lead to the rooftop testing track (made famous in the Italian Job).


Layered on top of this rationalist (and sometimes brutal) aesthetic are the filigree Renzo Piano insertions giving the perfect foil to the original building, adding the extra level of functionality needed for its current use as a concert hall / art gallery / shopping centre / university department. This shows how a great building can outlive its’ original use and be completely re-invented, given a carefully considered renovation process.


In terms of architectural mistakes I would chose ‘Aime 2000’ in the La Plagne ski resort, designed by Michel Bezancon in 1969, because it demonstrates how heroic Modernism lost its’ way. Built as part of the French ‘Plan Neige’ strategy, the building has the most noble of intentions as a ‘Snowship’ to bring mountain leisure pursuits to the masses.


However the reality of the complex as a stuffy and cramped interior, with mean public spaces that have been sacrificed for the sake of the building diagram, make you question the architect’s attitude towards the ‘masses’. It feels as if they forgot what it might be like to occupy the building and this completely unpicks what could have been a very generous architectural statement.

Article appeared in Building Magazine

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