Europe’s largest roof garden on top of lingotto, Turin
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Europe’s largest roof garden on top of lingotto

The former fiat test track becomes turin’s new high line

Benedetto Camerana (Camerana&Partners)

Europe’s largest roof garden on top of lingotto, Turin
Edited By Editorial Staff -

Well-known New York art critic Michael Kimmelman once said that the most important architecture from the last decade isn’t a building but the New York High Line. I thought something similar when I first saw the roof of the Lingotto building in Turin, which has been transformed into the biggest rooftop garden in Europe. Its prospects for success also seem as good as the New York landmark’s. The area, called Pista 500, was designed by architect Benedetto Camerana on the site of the iconic test track on top of the former industrial complex. The rooftop garden now has over 40 thousand plants from 300 species and different varieties, making it entirely similar to the High Line – a linear park created on a disused section of the West Side Line railroad.

 

The park carried on the wind

Benedetto Camerana describes his idea as a park that was carried on the wind and set down on the asphalt rooftop. He stresses how important it is for contemporary cities to bridge the gap between nature and the built environment, both symbolically and physically. The park transforms private property into a public space, where people can gather, meditate, and just enjoy the spectacular views of the city and surrounding Alpine peaks. The concept reflects all the principles of green architecture, while including innovative solutions in the fields of ecology, energy saving, and social responsibility.

The appeal of what’s been done here reflects the current trend of letting nature reclaim places abandoned by humans to create what Gilles Clément calls the Third Landscape. In this case, a piece of industrial archeology has been converted into a hothouse for sustainability and inclusion.

 

Incorporating nature into reinforced concrete

Turin has long been a center for innovation and technology. Its symbol, besides the Mole Antonelliana building, is the Lingotto, the former headquarters of FIAT, which operated here from 1923 to the early 1980s. In 1994, the former factory reopened to the public as a large, mixed-use complex, with the redevelopment project the work of Renzo Piano. The new Lingotto hosts workspaces, hospitality facilities, retail spaces, events, and cultural activities, assuming once again a prominent position in the regeneration of former industrial areas.

Within the development, the Pista 500 stands out as the apex of this process. The project boldly returns to Piano’s original concept of incorporating nature into reinforced concrete. And, just like the New York High Line, nature has already laid claim to the exposed blue industrial pipes, attracting dragonflies, hummingbirds, and butterflies and creating the desired biodiversity.

 

Hazelnut trees, dye plants, and edible species

The project comprises 290 thousand square feet (27,000 m2) of the roof track, with plantings covering over six thousand square meters, divided into twenty-eight green islands. These lush gardens of greenery and wild flowers bloom in large planters, forming a natural patchwork of colors that change with the seasons. Over 300 native species grow both inside and outside the track, selected according to ecological criteria. Most are perennials that grow quickly without a lot of water. Hazelnut trees, dye plants, and edible species alternate with areas for fitness, meditation, and yoga. A blue resin running track winds its way through the different zones and garden paths.

The lighting, the work of iGuzzini, and infographics about Turin’s landmarks further enrich the place. The development is also home to the newly opened Casa 500, an exhibition space dedicated to the Fiat 500, the most beloved FIAT icon, and part of the Pinacoteca Agnelli museum.

Architects: Benedetto Camerana – Camerana&Partners

Location: Turin, Italy

Year: 2021

©marcoschiavone, courtesy Benedetto Camerana

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