The candidacy of Ivrea in the UNESCO World Heritage List
The idea of putting forward the nomination of “Ivrea Industrial City of the 20th Century” to the UNESCO World Heritage was born in 2008, as an initiative of the Municipality of Ivrea and the Adriano Olivetti Foundation.
From that moment on, the project came to life and saw an important first step in May 2012 when the proposal was included in the UNESCO National Proposed List (Tentative List). Since then, the Municipality of Ivrea, the Ministry of Heritage and Cultural and Tourism activities, together with the Adriano Olivetti Foundation, the Guelpa Foundation and the active participation of the Piedmont Region and the Province of Turin (which would become a Metropolitan City), worked on preparing the Nomination File and began the complex task of preparing the Management Plan. This identifies the fundamental objectives of protection, conservation and the passing on to the future generations of the candidate area, as requested by UNESCO, and involves all the active subjects on the territory.
The key words of the “Ivrea Industrial City of the XX Century” candidacy for World Heritage are pride, history and belonging. Words that convey the possibility of preserving and passing of on to future generations an exceptional history, with the hope of its renewal.
Ivrea, a unique and exceptional Industrial city model
During the twentieth century, Ivrea created an alternative and unique industrial city model. This was based on a social and productive system inspired by the community. In fact, the concept of “community” contains in itself human, environmental and architectural values that have made Ivrea the twentieth century’s industrial city par excellence. A model of work and of life that ensures the harmonious coexistence of the economic-productive and the social spaces.
In the period spanning from 1930 up until the death of Adriano Olivetti in 1960, Ivrea became the heart of the most advanced reflections in the industrial and socio-economic, architectural and urban areas.
Olivettian thought manifests itself in the extraordinary quality of an exceptional set of buildings for industry and social services, which follow an alternative development model compared to the traditional one.
Social policies are the cornerstone of modern architectural works (which translate those concepts into reality) and urban plans that redesign the city and its territorial context.
The candidacy for the UNESCO World Heritage List consists of all these achievements.
The nomination of “Ivrea Industrial City of the XX Century” aims to recognize a tradition of genius, industriousness and savoir-faire of the entire Western world. However, it is also an application that differs from other similar ones on the World Heritage List, attributable to three groups: company towns (such as Crespi D ‘Adda); industrial communities (Salins les Bains and New Lanark), and industrial landscapes (Derwent Valley Mills).
Ivrea is an alternative answer of exceptional quality to the questions posed by the rapid evolution of the industrialization processes. It is a project in which innovative social policies are the prerequisites of modern architecture, translating these concepts into artefacts and urban plans that redesign the city and its territorial context.
“Ivrea Industrial City of the XX Century” is not a company town because it is not built ex novo, as a univocal city-factory system. Instead, it is inserted within the urban fabric and incorporates it over a period of 30 years.
Additionally, it cannot even be compared to the utopian and philanthropic industrial communities because it is the concrete and non-utopian realization of a real economic and social project that allows for an exemplary industrial development throughout the second half of the twentieth century.
Finally, it cannot even be considered as an industrial landscape as it is the result of the coexistence processes of the city’s industrialization and agricultural production that also engage an original project of industrial decentralization in the surrounding territory
Urban architectures – buildings, installations, homes, services, routes and meeting places – have been designed in a harmonious and functional way and are an outstanding example of the quality of the suggested solution and the way it is implemented. The model of “Industrial City of the XX Century” has its heart in the axis of Corso Jervis, where significant urban and territorial transformations take place and involve architects and urban planners with a broad design of the city.
It starts from the original Officine Olivetti of 1896 and progresses to the extensions and connections that arose between 1939 and 1962, the buildings that housed the Study and Experience Centre and Thermoelectric Plant, the canteen, social services and kindergarten, the houses of Borgo Olivetti and the Castellamonte District, the two Office Buildings, and the Residential Unit of Ivrea Centro.
The Nominated Property
The area nominated for enrolment consists of an urban and architectural ensemble characterized by 27 assets, ranging from buildings to architectural complexes, all designed by the most famous Italian architects and urban planners of the twentieth century. They have the requisites of authenticity and integrity, having substantially preserved both the architectural features of the various original projects and the external spaces, which are an integral part of the originality of the projects themselves. The buildings have remained unchanged in shape, structure and materials.
The ownership of this architectural heritage is almost exclusively private. It is an area sufficiently extensive to allow a reading of the industrial city of Ivrea. Even today, the persistence of its functions gives us an understanding of the projects and achievements that over time have substantiated this social and cultural (other than an industrial and urban) model. It is completely unique.