Acciaio Sale e Tabacchi La storia industriale della zona "Alfa" di Tortona (Steel, Salt and Tobacco: The industrial history of Tortona’s "Alfa" zone) exhibition

Pier Luigi Nervi,

Gianluca Giordano,

Tortona, Italy,


An exhibition of photographs and documents pays homage to the industrial zone in Tortona known as the Alfa Zone and the salt warehouses designed by Pier Luigi Nervi. Gianluca Giordano’s photographs capture the attraction of this beautiful specimen of industrial architecture and archaeology which is not open to the public, but perhaps ought to be.

Acciaio Sale e Tabacchi La storia industriale della zona

The exhibition Acciaio Sale e Tabacchi- La storia industriale della zona "Alfa" di Tortona (Steel, Salt and Tobacco: The industrial history of Tortona’s "Alfa" zone), opening on February 22 in Palazzo Guidobono in Tortona, draws public attention to a theme of great interest in numerous places in Italy, industrial architecture and archaeology. Italy’s architectural heritage worthy of preservation and protection includes not only historic buildings and monuments but a number of industrial zones which have become an integral part of the history and culture of their local communities.
One example is the town of Ivrea, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site as “20th Century Industrial City” in the summer of 2018.
Revitalisation of industrial areas is a theme that is becoming very important, especially now that production processes are changing and there is an urgent need to convert industrial areas to make them an important, active part of a new cultural and economic cycle in their communities and ensure that they are not abandoned. The industrial history of the Tortona area is linked with the work of a prominent Italian designer, Pier Luigi Nervi. The Italian engineer, who died forty years ago, designed the salt warehouses built in the fifties: two identical industrial buildings of considerable size, measuring one hundred metres long, twenty metres wide and about fifteen metres high. The two constructions were used until the early 2000s and then gradually abandoned. The two warehouses are now the most important, representative elements of the "Alfa" Zone, as Tortona industrial zone is called. Alfa stands for the name of the company Anonima Ligure Forniture Acciaio which, along with the Dellepiane cotton mill, set up in the area early in the 20th century, triggering industrial and urban transformation of the area beyond the railway.

The name of the salt warehouses designed by Pier Luigi Nervi was adopted by a committee of concerned citizens and professionals promoting initiatives aimed at preserving and revitalising the area’s architectural heritage.
The exhibition of photographs and documents represents various stages in the history of the industrial area through the companies and products it has seen over the years, without neglecting the history of the site: World War II bombing and expansion with tobacco warehouses and salt processing plants opened by the Monopolio di Stato. The exhibition includes documents of the day, 3D models of the buildings, and plenty of photographs. The industrial area is not open to visitors, but Gianluca Giordano’s photographs and a video made by Massimiliano Dorigo with the aid of a drone give us an idea of the fascination of this beautiful example of industrial architecture and archaeology.

(Agnese Bifulco)

Title: Acciaio Sale e Tabacchi / La storia industriale della zona "Alfa" di Tortona
Dates: 22 February – 31 March 2019
Location: Palazzo Guidobono, Tortona (AL) Italy

Concept: City of Tortona
Curator: Arch. Roberto Gabatelli
General coordination: Francesco Gilardone and Luisa Iotti
Installation: Amilcare Fossati
Photos: Gianluca Giordano
Video: Massimiliano Dorigo

Photo prints: Editrice Sette Giorni of Tortona (AL)
Information panels: Multigrafica ADV Srl of Lucera (FG)
Thanks to: CDP Immobiliare Srl
Pentagramma Piemonte SpA
Comitato Capannoni del Sale
ACME Architecture Canciani Massiglio Engineering
Istituto Luce historical archives
Communication Study Centre and Archives of Parma University
Pier Luigi Nervi Research
Logistica Italia SpA