FIAT, Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino, have produced notable modern infrastructure with innovative rings roads both at the scale of architecture, Lingotto, and landscape, Nardo Ring.
FIAT opened Lingotto in 1923 and the design (Matté Trucco) was unusual in that the production assembly line spiralled up the five floors such that raw materials entered at ground floor and completed cars emerged at rooftop level where there was a test track. At the time of opening in 1923, Lingotto the largest car factory in the world at that time. For its time, the Lingotto building was avant-garde, influential and impressive—Le Corbusier called it “one of the most impressive sights in industry”, and “a guideline for town planning”. 80 different models of car were produced there in its lifetime, including the Fiat Topolino of 1936.
By the time Lingotto closed in 1982 (today Lingotto is a Hotel), FIAT had produced an even greater feat of test track engineering but this time in the South of Italy in the town of Nardò in Puglia which was completed in 1975.
The circular track has a 12.5 kilometre circumference and has four 4m lanes for cars and motorcycles totaling 16 metres in width and has a separate inner ring for trucks at a width of 9 metres. In the cars/motorcycle ring the lanes are banked at such a degree that a driver in the outer most lane doesn’t need to turn the wheel while driving at speeds of up to 240 kmph. In essence, at the so-called neutral speed which is different for the four lanes, one can drive as if in a straight lane. However extremely fast cars still require the steering wheel to be turned when going faster than the maximum neutral speed. In the process of fighting a turn as needed when going faster than the neutral speed quite a bit of potential top speed is lost and hence a fast car will go faster in a straight line than what is possible on the Nardó Ring. Even at the neutral speed, in a banked turn a car runs a bit heavier than it would in a straight line, since the downforce created by the banking increases the rolling resistance on the tyres.
The neutral speed for the four car/motorcycle lanes are respectively:
However the Nardo ring configured as an ‘endless runway‘ would mean this rolling resistance would help in braking a landing plane. TBC
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Prior to establishing WHAT_architecture, I had the privilege to work for three renown practices whose founding partners were: women. Louisa Hutton (Sauerbruch Hutton), Alison Brooks (Alison Brooks Architects) and Francine Houbine (Mecanoo). Being Maori in London, perhaps I am naturally susceptible to a legacy of women who ‘operate’ at a level beyond, or below, politics and power, and whose organisational creativity is based on something more urgent: the familial. Here I think of: Esther Jessop who established Ngati Ranana. It takes a strong man to stand by a strong woman.
Our Peckham project raises the question of what architectural value(s) can be assigned to the structural expression of exposed contiguous piling: aesthetically, commercially? Piling is not very sexy and is typically hidden behind a layer of applied cement but does it have to be like this? This is not the architecture language of hi-tech but deep-tech! Piling after all looks like a foundation colonnade. The pile depth can be a condition of the lateral load requirements of the site: a house to the North, roads to the South and West, a garden to East.
The slightly odd form of our proposal for Peckham is derived from its context: we call it a leaning mansard. It’s a mansard in deference to the adjoining property yet rather than lose headroom, our mansard leans towards the mature trees on the boundary. This has produced a technical issue whereby the brick work will also lean, rendering the entire facade as an over-scaled corbel. Whilst our structural engineers are worried about the induced lateral stresses created by the brick ties pulling on the CLT walls, I wondered if the corbel facade was to be self supporting, how far could lean? Welcome to the Mathematics of the Ideal Villa.
Data Genetics asks: how far can you overhang blocks? The rules of this game are: 1. No glue! Blocks have to be placed and supported entirely by their own weights. 2. Only one block per level. We’re making a skewed tower. 3. All blocks are of the same shape, weight, and are of uniform density. The answer relates to defining the Centre of Mass and keeping this within the line of the foundation to avoid overturning…
The Game of Architecture asks what could architectural practice learn from, games1? What could, for example, architecture learn from something as seemingly remote as the sport of Formula 1? Having watched the climax to the F1 season which is the Abu Dhabi 2016 GP, I pondered whether:
During the race I heard the commentator refer to a technical sporting term which I didn’t understand but was intrigued: the undercut. Having Googled the term I marvelled at the clarity of explanation and thought we must play architecture with more game playing metric precision.
What we learnt from talking design during the Pacific Opera Hut.
Radio Blablablarchitecture promotes talking building. To design is to talk and to talk is to design. Yet the history of architecture has failed to recognised the value of speech as a legitimate means of architectural representation.
The podcast below was made in-house by the team at WHAT_architecture. It is a little uneven, the humour a bit clunky. However the podcast does manage to capture ‘in sound’ the spirit of Radio Blablablarchitecture. So: how do architects talk? Let’s hear some. Does it make sense or is architecture, like any language something which needs to be learnt before it can be spoken. Evidence of architects talking in various occasions, be it interviews, archi-lectures, conversations, presentations to clients are presented and commented upon. What does talking have to offer compared to the other mediums of architectural expression: drawing, writing and building?
WHAT_architecture values its students, interns and trainees! Such that with the 276amt_Amtico Design Charette we allowed the students to conceptualise, produce and present the project. In the accompanying video produced by our structural engineering student Caline Masrehjian (Concordia University Montreal), you can see Šárka Guľašiová (Czech Technical University) and Ania Scibior (University of Technology Lublin) present to Amtico, the world’s largest luxury vinyl flooring producer.
Their efforts can be seen here on Amtico’s website: click here!