Located in Settimo Torinese, a small town just outside Turin in northeast Italy, the Torino Outlet Village is an outlet with a difference. Dedicated to top-end fashion brands, its exclusive marketing approach is reflected in the refined elegance and attention to detail of every aspect of the outlet’s architecture.
This sleek refinement has been achieved with a restrained use of architectural elements and an equally limited color palette. The result is an extremely stylish backdrop for the range of luxury goods on offer, a sophisticated enclosure with none of the stentorious commercial features typical of the run-of-the-mill outlet. Although rationally laid out and easily readable for visitors, its consumer-friendly plan retains all the understated elegance of the exclusive top brand store in a fashionable neighborhood of any major city.
Horizontal and vertical lines are the basic elements of the architectural program. As well as providing a user-friendly plan, the design is perfectly in keeping with the outlet’s location parallel to a nearby motorway. Some 290 m long and in part concealed by undulating landscaped grounds, the complex appears as a protected enclave shielding its contents and occupants from the outside world. The fortress-like façade is softened by a regular series of projecting columns.
Inside, the spatial distribution combines interiors and exteriors in multiple ways especially by means of open plazas onto which converge long porticoes with regularly spaced columns. The subtle difference in color between the columns supporting the 3 m overhang and the back wall is another elegant touch. The store windows give on to sheltered porticoes, a reassuringly traditional high street feature creating an atmosphere conducive to a leisurely promenade. All spatial components – the longitudinal and transverse tree-lined courts, the protected porticoes and interiors of the 90 stores making up the outlet – blend to form a pleasurable continuum insulated from the outside world.
Highly expressive use has been made throughout of materials requiring well-honed craft skills. “Antique” sandstone flooring creates an elegant horizontal continuity over the whole complex. Lime plaster - applied with the traditional technique – gives a warm, yet varied, velvet texture to the horizontal surfaces, a further touch of refined sophistication. The slight irregularities lead to subtle changes in tone as the light varies during the day, similar to the changes in the hues of a painting.
Ancient materials and age-old craft skills combine with an innovative use of modern materials like prefabricated concrete, external thermal insulation, and a ‘hydraulic ring’ HVAC system with heat pumps and heat sinks.
Verticality is the outlet’s other notable feature. Alternatively described as an obelisk, spire or tower, the two tapered columns inclined so as to meet at their peak present an arresting sight. Standing 85 meters high, these two pearl-colored metal frame prisms form a landmark structure par excellence. A deliberately outspoken signpost, luminous both by day and night, this ancient form soars with sensory confidence over its structural opposite: the entrance to a luxury goods outlet, a contemporary urban feature created to serve the nearby metropolitan city of Turin. Here, two conceptual opposites come together to form an elegant whole in a refined project whose sparing yet highly expressive use of a few select architectural elements has given rise to a structure of our times.