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Nervi's Palace of Labour hit by arsonists

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Turin’s Palazzo del Lavoro, designed by Pier Luigi Nervi, has suffered serious fire damage after a suspected arson attack

The fire last week saw firefighters tackle the blaze, which according to reports in the Italian press was caused after wooden barriers blocking an entrance to the abandoned building were set alight.

Turin’s fire chief Alberton Gregnanini told reporters that a similar fire had been started a few months ago but had been caught before it spread.

The Palazzo del Lavoro (Palace of Labour) was designed by Nervi and his son Antonio and was built between 1959 and 1961 in the Nizza Millefonti area to the south of Turin.

It provided a 47,000m² pavilion for the Turin Exhibition, held to celebrate the centenary of the unification of Italy, and afterwards was converted to a technical school. It has been abandoned since 2009.

The building’s roof is divided into 16 ‘umbrellas’, supported by sunbursts of steel beams fixed to 65 foot high columns.

Its external walls, clad in glass, wrapped round the perimeter of the building and incorporated large 70-foot-high vertical mullions.

Dennis Sharp, writing in Twentieth Century Architecture: a Visual History, said: ‘Viewed as a symbol of integration between structural and architectural invention and presented in the most important national and international publications, the Palazzo del Lavoro has fascinated entire generations.’

It is understood that the structure of the building has not been permanently damaged by the fire, and the Superintendent of
Architectural Heritage of Piedmont, has sent an injunction to the building’s owners, reminding them to comply with a listing made in 2011.

A plan by the City of Turin to regenerate the area around the building, including the conversion of the Palazzo into a shopping centre, has been held up for a number of years due to planning complications.

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