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The Great Innovation Workshops – the Republic

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They were the large workshop where trains were repaired, they became the heart of innovation in Turin, a sort of H-shaped spaceship the size of fifty-two tennis courts in which startuppers and artists, students and international critics coexist. On the one hand the lords of hi-tech, on the other those of culture, in the middle the area dedicated to food: an almost plastic representation of the new vocation of the city, which remains linked to industry, but must look to the future. The OGRs, restored by the CRT four years ago after a thousand days of work and a hundred million investments, which in the black months of the Covid emergency were quickly transformed into a field hospital, have been partners of Italian Tech Week since its inception. Before they hosted events, today they become their headquarters and reference point, “a natural home” they explain from the foundation. In addition to the charm of 35 thousand square meters of history and technology and the economic support for the initiative in the days of ITW, the OGRs also get involved as content builders by “signing” the in-depth study on blockchain by Intesa (IBM Group) and the Italia4Blockchain National Association.


It is an almost obligatory path for those who, through the Tech division, have set up a “supply chain” where applied research, startups and scaleups, SMEs, financial fellow travelers and large companies meet, from Techstars to Microsoft, from the ISI Foundation to Endeavor. In fact, a return to origins for what, according to the general secretary of CRT Massimo Lapucci, was “the first large factory in the city, a spearhead in a district that was then decentralized and industrial”.

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It was 1895, but after the glories came a slow decline. Until the turning point. “We decided to combine the original identity of the workshop with a renewed mission at the service of the community – is Lapucci’s mantra -. That is, from the “Great Repairs” of locomotives and railway wagons to the “Great Repairs” of ideas “. More than a century later, the heart of digital Turin beats in that area. The so-called “innovation mile” is an ecosystem that gravitates around the Polytechnic and extends towards the Dora station, with the large European research center of Punch Group working on hybrid and hydrogen cars, the Intesa San Paolo skyscraper designed by Renzo Piano, the Enviroment Park dedicated to sustainable development, the Edison laboratories in via Borsellino.

The Ogrs are a hinge between the local and the international dimension, but above all a place of “history and memory” explained before the inauguration of the president of Crt Giovanni Quaglia, transformed into a space for exhibitions, music and installations. Over the years, William Kentridge, Giorgio Moroder, Pixies, the Kraftwerk, the New Order, Susan Hiller, Liam Gillick, Michael Nyman, The Chemical Brothers, John Cale have passed from the Cult area while alongside – in the sleeve dedicated to Tech, with 12 thousand square meters dedicated and 499 workstations – we worked on the business of tomorrow. The goal is to catalyze half a billion euros in investments and 1,000 new accelerated startups over the next twenty years. Space for those who have ideas, and petrol to make them run, mixing bytes and steel.

There is something that combines the ancient and the contemporary even in the spaces dedicated to Food, around the long social table. Where at the beginning of the 1900s the workers had lunch together, and families with children gathered in the days before Christmas, today there is Snodo, the “taste machine” open from 8 to 24. And then, all around, the Court East, overlooking Corso Castelfidardo, with open-air works of art and the insertion of both artistic elements into the texture of the pavement, such as, for example, the metal profiles to symbolize the old railway rails, and urban furniture.

And the West Court, on via Borsellino, with a garden characterized by the ancient water tower and a stage, designed for events, shows, exhibitions, catering and aperitifs. OGRs, despite confinement and smart working, have brought us the lesson of the United States: gross domestic product gallops in areas where innovation has found a home, a concrete place in which to grow and become contaminated with cities, from Seattle to San Francisco. Here that place in Turin has an ancient heart and an iron soul.


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