The Lingotto (28.700 sq. 500 m. long and 5 storeys high) was built up as comprehensive FIAT factory, largest car-maker in Italy, established on July 11th 1899. It was also a significant place of civil resistance against the Nazi occupation.
“Civil resistance, a spontaneous process by a civil society through unarmed means”
– Jacques Semelin
Engineer Matté Trucco built between 1916 and 1922 this futurist concrete structure hinging on a pillar meshwork, with helical ramps at both ends leading to a roof test track added in 1925 by Le Corbusier, who mentioned the Lingotto as ‘one of the most impressive shows that industry has ever staged’. It has an important record: it introduced into Italy, through its massive elongated structure, Taylor’s work distribution method based on the assembly chain.
During WW2, the factory workers came up with an array of important civil resistance actions, such as the strikes, at their climax in March 1943 with over 100.000 workers, even prior to the German occupation, which marked the fading consent to the regime; then again in March 1944 and finally on April 18th 1945, the huge pre-insurrectionary walkout.
The New York Times wrote on March 9th 1944: ‘as to mass demonstrations, nothing of sort has ever happened in Nazi-occupied Europe that can be likened to the uprising of Italian and Torino workers’.
The involved plants included: Mirafiori, Lingotto, FIAT Materiale Ferroviario, Grandi Motori, Viberti, Lancia, Riv, Ceat, Cimat, Venchi Unica, Manifattura Tabacchi, Microtecnica. Among so many exemplary cases, at least FIAT Materiale Ferroviario – known as Materferro in Torino – is worth mentioning; a portion of its facade on Corso Rosselli is kept standing to testify to the previous important factory, written off in 1975; a contemporary art monument by Enzo Biffi Gentili, bearing the March 1943 strike dates and the inscription ‘STRIKE!’ was inaugurated there on Jan. 27th 2006 – Memorial Day – in memory of those workers’ heroic deed.
Lingotto’s build-over was designed by architect Renzo Piano (1983-2002); nowadays it is a multi-purpose center including the Giovanni Agnelli Auditorium (1994), the Agnelli Picture Gallery (2002), the compound for fairs (i.e. the Salone del Libro – Book Exhibition) and congresses, the 8Gallery mall, the Pathè Lingotto multi-room cinema, and two hotels. Also worth remarking are the so-called Bolla (Bubble) and the pedestrian gangway’s Olympic Arch (2006).