Turin has always been a European leader in the automotive industry. Its cathedral was Lingotto, the historic headquarters of a big Italian automobile manufacturer, which operated from 1923 to the early 1980s. In 1994 the complex reopened to the public as a large multifunctional structure, thanks to a recovery project by Renzo Piano offering work spaces, hospitality, events commercial and cultural activities. Within the complex, La Pista500 stands out as the pinnacle of this process. The project boldly returns to Piano’s concept of incorporating nature inside the former industry building, which he pioneered in one of the inner courtyards. Through this project, Benedetto Camerana brings a great graft of nature into the city, which completes the transformation of a symbolic building of the automotive industry: it's an important example of Green Architecture built on a highly symbolic and representative building of Turin and its history. Where Fiat cars were once tested, today it's an inclusive garden, which offers all citizens and tourists a space to discover to walk and observe the city from above, a green lung that embodies the contemporary strategy of the ESG ( Environmental - Social - Governance). The project promotes contemporary environmental principles in the areas of ecology, energy conservation, social responsibility. La Pista500 is a hanging garden landing on the rooftrack, 28 meters high on ground floor, as if carried by the wind, and colours the space at the centre of the test track with the nuances of the seasons. La Pista500 extends for 27,000 square meters on the roof of Lingotto, with natural installations covering over 7,000 square metres, divided into twenty-eight green “islands”. The garden is designed to interfere as less as possible with the existing structure. A running track extends for 1 kilometer around the rooftop and is clearly recognizable thanks to the light blue paint that recalls the existing industrial pipes. The memory of the test track for Fiat vehicles from the 1920s and 1930s lives on in the name of the project and in the kilometre loop with the two iconic parabolic curves, which becomes a track for electric propulsion vehicles, as well as for bicycles and scooters, near the running track. Lighting and infographics on Turin’s landscape and monuments further enrich this place. Nature takes up residence among the exposed blue industrial pipes, just as it did on New York’s High Line. Over 300 indigenous types take root in and around the ring, selected based on ecological criteria. These gardens of lush greenery and wild flowers blossom in large planters forming a naturalistic patchwork of colour, with seasonal variations. The choice of planting so many perennial herbaceous plants is due to their fast grow and yield: in addition to a great sustainability, they can create movements of different heights and spectacular changes in every season, also improving the energy and climatic performance of the entire building. La Pista500 installs on an asphalt roof that captures sunbeams all day long. The use of nature in such building improves the energy and environmental performances of the complex from the point of view of thermal insulation. The use of vegetation on the roof helps to absorb the heat coming from the city, avoiding the excessive use of cooling systems, and avoids the excessive use of energy. La Pista500 helps to counter the warmer microclimate inside the urban area, expecially in Lingotto where railways and former industrial sites occupy a large amount of land. To implement the absorption of carbon dioxide, from a botanical point of view, the choice fell on plants that are best at this job, such as Arbutus Unedo, Cotinus coggygria, (commonly known as smoke tree), Sambucus nigra. The vegetation helps also in the disposal of rainwater, which is absorbed by the vegetal materials and soil. Furthermore, to indulge this special environment, the plants chosen to be part of the green areas are almost all native to Piemonte and Liguria in order to withstand high summer temperatures with a very low water requirement. The plants can also live in a shallow soil and resist to the wind. A special technology used to grow the plants, which concerns their seed and transplant time, helps avoiding pesticides. The new vision proposes a system of thematic areas conceived in a contemporary key. The themes that alternate and wind along the track are five, all linked to spontaneity and seasonality: hazelnut grove, dyeing plants, herbaceous and shrubs, meditation areas, the edible and aromatic essences, useful for the rebirth of native plants but also for teaching. The big amount of plants living today on the rooftop of Lingotto is able to welcome a new fauna of birds, insects and small mammals, where they can find a new piece of nature inside the built environment of Turin. Among all other functions, the Pinacoteca Agnelli shares with La Pista500 the spaces for art. From May 26, 2022, La Pista500 will officially open to the public hosting the integration to La Pinacoteca Agnelli’s permanent collection. Visitors will be able to appreciate new contemporary artworks along La Pista500 in connection to the new Pinacoteca program. The historical symbol of Italian industrial progress is now updated with new functions in constant evolution, which become central in the architectural vision and liveability of urban spaces. This perspective places at the center the possibility, now real, of expanding the city space by including a green lung that recalls a new biodiversity that will improve the livability of the Lingotto district and shortes the distances between nature and built urban areas. Thus was born a linear park, a "manifesto" that welcomes citizens and interprets the renewal of the automotive world.
Benedetto Camerana (1963) architect, landscape architect, PhD in History of Architecture and Urban Planning. In 1997 he started the Camerana&Partners studio in Turin, with which he carried out a design research focused on the integration between architecture and landscape, in the direction of a "green architecture" with a clear environmental matrix, also with the experimental use of innovative technologies and natural systems of energy saving. A list of most important projects: the tecnocity Environment Park (Torino 1997); XX Winter Olympic Games Torino 2006 Olympic Village, a project granted with Golden Medal in Italian Architecture 2004-2006; Juventus Museum (Torino, 2012); Historical Museum Alfa Romeo (Arese, 2015); private residence in Torre Littoria Reale Immobili (Torino 2020); the most tallest hanging garden in Europe La Pista500 Lingotto (Torino 2021); masterplan for Nitto ATP Finals at Torino 2021-2025.