From street level, this huge arcade of shops, concert halls and entertainment outlets appears to have been built primarily to amuse the local community. In fact, the building was originally designed and built for the car manufacturer Fiat, as a factory that would employ thousands of workers from the city of Turin.
The factory's proximity to the railway was key—raw materials would arrive by rail to the lowest floors of the building to become the basis of the construction of automobiles. These raw materials would be fashioned into car components, which would then be transported to the second floor, where construction could begin. Cars would slowly begin to take shape as they were elevated up to the higher levels of the building until they reached the very top, where a complete car would emerge onto the roof, the most iconic feature of the building.
This beautifully linear process of car manufacturing ended with every vehicle being test driven around the track that was implemented into the top of the structure. Cars could literally be driven straight out of the factory and into Fiat showrooms.
Unknown to the patrons of the building and residents of Turin, the rooftop test track was featured in a British film, The Italian Job (1969) as part of the police chase at the end. The storyline of the film revolves around Charlie Croker (Michael Caine) assembling a team to rob $4 million of Chinese gold that has been sent to Italy as a deposit for a new car factory.
The roof and long spiral ramp that was used to bring cars down from the top of the building are completely open to the public. Of little interest to the local citizens, they make for very atmospheric photos for those looking for artistic inspiration. A wonder hidden in plain sight, you can even take a lift to the rooftop from the lifts in the center of the vast building without raising any eyebrows.