Turin Transforms a Decaying Neighborhood into an Innovation District

  • The Barriera di Milano neighborhood of Turin, Italy holds the ruins of factories where cars and their parts were once made.
  • Gradually, these empty hulks are being turned into loft-style housing, university buildings, and office spaces.
  • The latest redevelopment in the growing innovation district is the former headquarters of a company known as Incet, which made electric cables and was active until 1968.
  • After acquiring the campus of giant white buildings, Turin officials briefly used it as a parking lot for confiscated vehicles before letting it sit dormant for decades.
  • Now, the city is renovating the buildings into a hub of what officials here call “open innovation”—and perhaps, a spark plug for a new post-industrial economy.
  • With the advent of globalization and the deindustrialization of developed economies, post-industrial cities are leading the city revitalization movement (See Detroit).
Ex-Incet under renovation, with the Turin skyline as a backdrop. Photo by Social Innovation Citizen.
Ex-Incet under renovation, with the Turin skyline as a backdrop. Photo by Social Innovation Citizen.
  • It’s hard to describe what the former factory complex, now known as Ex-Incet, is on its way to becoming.
  • That’s because it’s intended to be a little bit of everything:
    • There will be space for community meetings, religious gatherings, musical performances.
    • Officespace for NGOs, social enterprises, and local government.
    • Students will be welcome to study here, innovators from other cities and countries will be invited to visit.
    • The first two tenants of the complex couldn’t be more different: a police station and an art gallery.
  • The Ex-Incet redevelopment will be complete by the end of the year, testing the idea that local government can restore economic growth simply by facilitating the actions and interactions of others.
  • One of the most crucial pieces of this redevelopment puzzle is called Open Incet.
  • Launched in late 2015, it’s an innovation center that works to connect the people and ideas swirling around this place with national and global networks of people they might collaborate with.

“Open Incet is part of the urban innovation ecosystem. It’s a place where we are opening meeting points to solve social and economic challenges that individual stakeholders would not be able to solve on their own.”

-Fabio Sgaragli, Incet manager.

After: The restored Incet factory complex will be home to a wide mix of tenants and uses. Photo by Open Incet.
After: The restored Incet factory complex will be home to a wide mix of tenants and uses. Photo by Open Incet.

Author: Nicholas Efthimiadis

Seattle grown. Avid skier and occasional ski racer. Passionate about all things urban (particularly transportation & housing). University of Washington 2016 graduate: BA in Economics and a minor in Urban Design and Planning. Extensive experience in fictitious cartography and sand-city molding.