Cartiera Burgo (Burgo Paper Mill) - Atlas Obscura

Cartiera Burgo (Burgo Paper Mill)

The "floating factory" was a highlight in the career of the Italian architect known for his unusual use of reinforced concrete. 


In the 1960s, Italy was crossed by an economic boom. The paper businessman Luigi Burgo wanted a new factory to host a new, huge, paper machine. The factory needed to be able to expand as business increased. This was a great problem, he needed a 250-meter-long room with a 160-meter-long wall without a pillar (to allow the possible expansion).

Burgo called Pier Luigi Nervi to solve the problem. Nervi was an Italian architect who specialized in the Brutalist style. At that time he already built many stadiums, bridges, spot halls and the UNESCO headquarters in Italy. Nervi was in love with the architectural potential of enforced concrete and was already known as the “poet” or the “tailor” of enforced concrete.

Nervi decided to approach the challenge in a completely different way, building a bridge-like structure instead of a normal factory building. He built two sets of piers to hold up metal chains that allow the ceiling to “float” over the structure without pillars, but with walls made only of metal and glass.

Burgo’s new paper mill became an iconic structure. It was in use until 2013 when the all company shut down due to low newspaper sales. The factory was used again starting in 2015 after it was taken over by another company.

Know Before You Go

The factory cannot be visited, but it is possible to see it from outside at any hour from the external truck park.

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