Casa 500 and La Pista 500, based in the iconic area of Lingotto in Turin, have just opened, creating a green lung and cultural hub for citizens of the city. Attended by John Elkann, Chairman of Stellantis; Oliver François, Fiat CEO and Stellantis CMO; Ginevra Elkann, Chairwoman of the Pinacoteca Agnelli and Bono, co-founder of (RED). The major event also saw the unveiling of the New (500)RED, the first (RED) car and the result of the partnership with (RED).
Casa 500 – The past, present and future of three generations of the 500, through the culture of a country and the history of a city
Casa 500 is a new exhibition space forming part of the museum complex at the Pinacoteca Agnelli, chaired by Ginevra Elkann. An immersive journey covering over 700m2, it plays on memories, emotions and dreams to trace the culture and history of a country and a city, intertwined with the history of the 500. Much more than an automobile museum, Casa 500 also tells the future of the Fiat brand. The common thread is the metamorphosis of the Fiat 500 across its three generations, a model that has made history in the automotive industry and an icon of our times
Located on the 4th floor of the Pinacoteca Agnelli and directly overlooking the Lingotto test track, Casa 500 is an open exhibition space connected to the track on all four sides by its large windows. Use of recycled materials throughout the space can be easily noticed from recycled wood for the tables, platforms and doors; panels that absorb the volatile components of the air; reused furniture or products with plastics recovered from the sea, like the seats in Seaqual® yarn; to eco-friendly, antibacterial paints. The Casa 500 exhibition is set out around a highly symbolic central tree, also made of recycled wood. A tree that represents the continuity of history, between the roots – the past – and the future. At the foot of the tree, the silhouette of the legendary 1957 Fiat 500 and a New (500)RED, the latest addition to the New 500 line-up.
The exhibition is divided into eight themed areas. These begin with Legacy, an immersive space of photos and videos, where visitors are taken back to the start of the journey, in 1957.
Next comes Made of Italy, not a collection of objects but an affirmation of style. Twelve industrial products that, like the 500, have established themselves courtesy of their Italian design that has combined beauty with practicality. In this space, they are divided into three areas: Boom, Ego and Ethical. Boom looks back to the 1950s, celebrated by Fellini in his La dolce vita. The space tells of a country undergoing a complete transformation, in search of new opportunities and the resulting economic development is driven by Italian creativity. With a leap forward of more than half a century, to the Ego area and the first decade of the new millennium. Means of communication are now in the ether, in the advent of the internet, mobile phones, e-mail, and digital images. The need for personalisation is therefore strong, to affirm an individuality that remained latent. Ethical is focused on the current decade: a period of great technological innovations, but also of the rediscovery of primary values such as solidarity and respect for the environment.
The Social relevance section covers the compelling story of the 500 as told in the three preceding areas: Boom, the post-war economic boom that drove mass consumption; Ego, the second-generation 500, the big name of the new digital millennium courtesy of its endless customisation options; Ethical, the future from 2020 onwards, with the full-electric New 500 taking everyone into the next era of mobility.
For fans of the history of communication is the unmissable Poster Collection area, with posters and advertising illustrations of the first 500, an icon of the democratisation of cars in Italy. With many women at the wheel, the small car also becomes the symbol of women’s emancipation as well as a synonym for freedom and democratic mobility.
Three Generations is the section of comparison. Two invaluable time capsules from 1957 and 2007 that tell the visual story of the evolution of the 500 and its three incarnations. The walls include a display of a cross-section of the bodywork of a real 1957 model, alongside which are certain components of the 2007 generation of 500: wheel rims, front and rear headlights, steering wheel, dashboard with infotainment and mirror. Further along, the same components, but this time taken from the fully-electric New 500: innovation, functionality, design and technology, all in character with the 500.
Two multimedia screens make up the Digital Counter. An interactive section showing interviews, communication materials, events and awards, all of which made the Fiat 500 an international star.
Finally, we come into the Foreseeing the Future section. In this area we retrace the history of Lingotto, which has changed radically over its lifetime. Originally a car factory, in the 1990s, Lingotto became a multifunctional commercial centre, housing shops, restaurants and a cinema. Now a further transformation, a museum space focused on new sustainable mobility, open to the public and designed for the community.
There will also be an area for temporary exhibitions, and the first will be ‘Green Obsession’, curated by Stefano Boeri's architecture firm. Four models of vertical forests will be exhibited illustrating the concept of ‘Green Obsession’ as a philosophy - an innovative and sustainable way to live modern life.
Casa 500 was designed by the team at Lab71 architetti, led by Massimiliano Gotti Porcinari.
La Pista 500, Europe’s Highest Hanging Garden with over 40,000 plants
A succession of blooms and colours according to the seasons, plays of foliage, light and shadow, full and empty spaces, and aromas infused into the air. The sumptuous roof garden of La Pista 500 curates all this, where the cars built in the Lingotto factory were once tested.
The garden provides an injection of nature into the city, constructed on top of a building symbolic for Turin and its history, created as a getaway from the metropolis all around them.
But the La Pista 500 project also embarks on a new road of industrial archaeology, bringing in the latest environmental values: from ecology and energy saving to social responsibility.
The work of the architect Benedetto Camerana – assisted by botanist, Cristiana Ruspa – the project plays out along the entire 1.2km ring, but the location’s history is safeguarded and reworked: the track of yesteryear is now revived, exclusively for electric-powered vehicles, as well as bicycles and scooters.
Designed in themed areas just like Baroque gardens, this modern version proposes new spaces, each one different from the next: from meditation and yoga, a running track and fitness area, to infographics on the landscape and monuments of the city, and spaces for art shared with the Pinacoteca Agnelli. Currently on display in the latter is a preview of nine large-scale sculptures by some of the greatest sculptors of the 20th century, as a taster for the temporary exhibition ‘The Maeght Foundation: a studio in the open air’, at the Pinacoteca Agnelli from 15th October.
As well as these zones, five themed areas, divided in turn by native botanical species: ‘hazelnut grove’, ‘educational and dye plants’, ‘kitchen garden’, ‘herbaceous borders’ and ‘meditation’.
In a world rediscovering the value of nature, we must not leave behind what plants can do for people, starting from the ability to provide nourishment, or to assist in meditation as in the case of aromatic plants. Aromatic plants have been laid out specially by the Zegna Group, a partner of Fiat and a major manufacturing company that pays particular attention to protecting the environment.
The garden in detail
The garden plays out as a modern, linear park, with 28 large islands covering just over 7,000m2. It hosts more than 40,000 specimens of 300 species and varieties of plant, selected along ecological criteria: some are taken from the Piedmont region and its neighbouring areas, set out according to seasonal variations in colour. These are mostly herbaceous perennials, plants that grow very fast and at a high yield.
To cultivate them, new concept techniques have been adopted to drastically reduce water consumption and the use of fertilisers; this decision was also dictated by sustainability criteria. Only a few months later, the garden is already inhabited by numerous species of butterflies and beetles: a real injection of biodiversity.
The hazelnut grove is given a themed area of its very own. Piedmont is rich in hazelnuts, deciduous shrubs with purple-red foliage, which grow quite quickly in all soils, even if dry, poor and calcareous. This frugal, noble plant produces the renowned gianduia cream, based on chocolate and hazelnuts.
The educational area houses dyeing species. Once the only way to colour fabric, natural dyes are now making a comeback thanks to their ecological and creative properties. Each plant has its own relationship with the soil and light, resulting in original shades.
A gardening lesson from the kitchen garden: these species need well-drained soil with sand and crushed stone and only a little irrigation in summer. Once planted and the initial recovery period is complete, they become used to not being watered and grow increasingly more resistant to diseases and pests.
Among the herbaceous shrubs, the play of colours and volumes that follow in succession as the seasons change outshines even the blooms.
Meditation is not just a matter of visual fulfillment, but one of inner harmony. On top of the unexpected nuances formed by the branches and leaves, the scent of aromatics also induces relaxation and brings people and nature closer together.
John Elkann, Chairman of Stellantis, stated: “Turin now has a new museum, focused on a true Italian icon like the Fiat 500, and a new garden open to all, offering a unique experience to our city’s inhabitants and visitors. The investments made in electric at Mirafiori and in the green transformation at Lingotto are a sign of Stellantis' commitment: to confidently lead the change the automotive sector is undergoing, in order to offer everybody the benefits of sustainable and cutting-edge mobility”.
Olivier Francois, Fiat CEO and Stellantis CMO, stated: “Today, we begin a new chapter in the history of the Lingotto. It has always been a standard-bearer in Fiat’s history and it is right here that we’re planting the seeds of our future: Casa 500, the new museum dedicated to Fiat’s best-loved icon, and the new La Pista 500, the largest hanging garden in Europe. A new green space that is open to all. We’re also presenting the world premiere of the New (500)RED, the first (RED) car in the world.
Casa 500 isn’t just a conventional auto museum, it tells stories of culture and history, of Italy and Turin. And it’s also a journey that projects Fiat’s roots into the future. The 500 is not just technology, batteries, and shiny screens; it represents Italian design, the Dolce Vita, the Italian spirit. And that is exactly what we’ve put in our new museum.
La Pista 500 is the largest roof garden in Europe, the decision to put it on the roof of an early 20th century factory has a deeply symbolic value for us: a place that, a hundred years ago, was by definition a home of pollution, with a test track that was once secret and inaccessible, are now a garden that is opening to all the people of Turin. This underlines the fact that our goal is not only to market cars: our new journey is also about care and attention to climate, community, and culture.”
Ginevra Elkann stated: “The Lingotto is a magical place, a symbol of the industrialisation of Italy that has changed with the times to respond to new needs. Years ago, when manufacturing ended, Renzo Piano’s project gave it a new mission and opened it up to the people of Turin, including dedicated spaces created for the Giovanni and Marella Agnelli Art Collection: a special treasure chest created to share the Agnelli’s passion for art with the city. Today, in this new beginning, Lingotto reconnects with its original identity: it celebrates the past and projects that heritage into a new vision of the future. Through the Pinacoteca, Casa 500 and La Pista 500, the huge hanging garden designed to host visiting works of art, the Lingotto shares an inclusive, sustainable vision of the future and a rich dialogue with the worlds of art and the environment”.