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Creative Making

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People make things. They make them for all sorts of reasons – necessity, utility, convenience, even for profit. Where there is making, there will be a center, a place where there is more activity and more gathering of the engineering and fabrication expertise. And where there is a center, there is usually a cluster of creative people – ones who do not quite fit the mold, but often know their stuff very very well.

In the US,our centers for making have been Detroit, closely followed by southern California, with its car culture, ties to aviation and the military. The creative center here might be seen as the Skunk Works, a model of collective intelligence at its finest.

In Italy, making mostly takes place in the north – Milan, Modena, and in Torino. There, the home of Fiat and Lancia, one finds a fine history of engineering and fabrication. The workforce is highly skilled and the culture is one to make and make well.

So, given a bit of time off, that’s where I went. Ground zero for automotive industrialism in Italy. Several things were seen – in detail. First off, the major auto museum in Turin, the Biscaretti, has been closed for a few years for rebuilding. They staged a show at the wonderful Turin Exhibition Hall, designed in the 1950’s by Nervi. Racing Alfas, Maseratis, Lancias, a Lambda car and chassis, just too much to tell. And the building – its fantastic. Concrete used like lace, light and delicate. See: Turin Expo auto gallery

This was followed with a couple of visits to Lingotto, the wonderful factory building by Fiat, c. 1920. Imagine if someone unravelled the Pentagon, made it straight, doubled the height, and put a test track on the top. And then for dessert, Renzo Piano designed a couple of far out buildings on the roof, for its renovation into a shopping, hotel and conference center.

Again, the concrete helicoidal ramps at the end of the building were amazing. Unlike the typical American counterpart, these “flatten” in the middle, so its more like two half ramps, and a gentle slope in the middle. This simple approach, done to allow easier ramp access on the floor levels, makes the experience special, as every vantage point has a shifted perspective. The space is truly dynamic, capped off by a series of skylights.

Several days were taken up with Aurelia research – looking at old drawings, and running down facts and details. More on that later. Lets just say that if we are talking about design and detail, there’s nothing like looking at the real drawings for the Aurelia, full size, and in your hands.

top:     Lingotto roof

above: Lambda and structure

below: D24 and Sprint buck

Written by Geoff

August 2, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Aurelia

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