Turin presents an ideal venue for international architects. Turin’s important role in the history of European Baroque architecture has brought the city to the forefront of international popularity between architects. Its interest lays not only in the physically built examples of the work of such architects as Guarino Guarini, Filippo Juvarra, Benedetto Alfieri or Bernardo Vittone, but more generally in the way the city seemed to have been designed and built as a coherent whole. From the late XVI century, Turin was the capital of a small European state and its baroque city centre was an artistic expression of political power and cultural traditions.
In 1861 Turin was designated as the capital of Italy. Even if it was capital of a newborn nation for a very short time, it was ready to play the role: former centre of the small but enlightened Savoia state, it had yet many institutional palaces, military areas, as well the right places for the new national parliament inside Carignano Palace. With the rising of XX century, searching for a new identity after the moving of the capital to Florence first and Rome then, Turin instead become the city of Fiat, the car company that for many years guided the transformation of the city.
The most interesting heritage from Fiat is the 500 m long building of Lingotto (1916-1922) and the enormous industrial plant of Mirafiori. After the Liberty period that left the buildings of Pietro Fenoglio, in the twenties the city was the real Italian laboratory of the Modern Movement with great rationalist buildings left by Giuseppe Pagano Pogatschnig (Palazzo Gualino, 1928-1930, with Gino Levi Montalcini) and the restyling of via Roma, and in which the eclectic personality of Carlo Mollino who would work after the war at his masterpieces such as the Teatro Regio and the Auditorium RAI, trained and formed.
After the second world war the reconstruction of the city, that was guiding together with Milan the “economic miracle” of Italy, followed a typical Italian style, a regionalism linked to the deep historical roots of the city that was called “neoliberty” and banned by Reyner Banham as the Italian retreat from international style. Architects of that period are Gabetti & Isola or Jaretti and Luzi.
The industrial clients prefers instead the creation of great works, characterized by unusual structural wonders, and they ask for great engineers such as Pier Luigi Nervi or Riccardo Morandi.
In the last decades, starting from the masterplan of Vittorio Gregotti (1995), Turin has become the laboratory-city of reconstruction of post-industrial heritage. The directions of change are multiple and are leaving important signs in its urban fabric: the great north-south axis, upgrading the surrounding areas (the 4 “Spine”) and the 2006 Winter Olympics Games are just some elements of this season of great change.
On the outskirts of Turin instead is the city of Ivrea. Adriano Olivetti left the legacy of an utopian urban project, a town built on the measures of man, made up of outstanding buildings signed by the most famous Italian architects of the fifties. Today it’s still possible to appreciate, not the dream, but the concrete program of a man that deeply believed in the social role of architecture.