international design firm carlo ratti has won the international competition to design leading tomato company mutti’s headquarters in parma. the master plan aims to open up the factory to the public, and features a new visitor center whose walls are made up of tomato-sauce glass jars. on the top of this building, a public terrace allows visitors to overlook thousands of fresh tomatoes – 300,000 tons each year, up to 5,500 tons per day – being processed in real time.


the rooftop terrace overlooks thousands of fresh tomatoes being processed in real time

 

 

the 2.5 million square-foot (250,000 square-meter) master plan designed by carlo ratti overhauls a series of production facilities, at the same time setting up improved environments for workers, employees and visitors alike. the project rethinks the factory’s relationship with the surrounding landscape, aiming to become a destination in montechiarugolo, near parma, at the core of italy’s ‘food valley’. the factory projects outwards into the countryside, through a couple of 400ft long (120m long), 23ft high (7 m high) semi-transparent walls, each of them built with thousands of tomato-sauce glass jars. 


the semi-transparent walls are built using thousands of tomato-sauce glass jars

 

 

this structure, marked by the mutti logo and digitally lit at night, will become the factory’s most recognizable element. the enclosed visitor center will host a series of public functions, and will feature a restaurant surrounded by an orchard, an auditorium for events, and a control room where people can follow the food processing stages as they happen in the factory in real time.


5,500 tons of tomatoes are processed every day at the mutti factory

 

 

on the top of the visitor center, people can access a public terrace, from which they can view the first stage of food processing. freshly harvested vegetables are poured down in tons into the wash basins, allowing visitors to admire the sight of millions of tomatoes falling down in an endless ‘red cascade’.

 

 

‘we were inspired by pablo neruda’s poem ‘oda al tomate’, which is also one of mutti’s slogans. ‘la calle se llenó de tomates’ (‘the street was filled with tomatoes’) is a way to show how the factory can open up and project outwards’, explains carlo ratti, founding partner of CRA and director of the senseable city lab at MIT. ‘we imagined the mutti plant to be like an open-air theater: both open to the public, and to the surrounding landscape.’


the project by CRA imagines new spaces for work, including office spaces immersed in a lemon house

 

 

landscape has also been at the core of the master plan. at the renovated factory, the landscape enters inside the industrial plant. a new 240,000 sqf (24,000 sqm) biodiversity park will be established to surround the entire area, blurring the boundary between nature and industry. furthermore, the project by CRA imagines new spaces for work, including office spaces immersed in a lemon house. ‘our company is located in the very heart of the food valley and has a strong relationship with its territory, which we love and respect’, adds francesco mutti, CEO of mutti S.p.a. and president of the competition’s jury. ‘that’s why our ambition is to create a model in which both the individuals, the territory and the supply chain live in harmony with our business.’


a new 240,000 sqf (24,000 sqm) biodiversity park will be established to surround the entire area

 

 

project info:

 

location: parma, italy
client: mutti
consultancy on plant engineering and structural design: ai engineering
consultancy on industrial units: marco visconti architect
CRA team: carlo ratti, giovanni de niederhausern, andrea cassi (project leader), andrea galli, valentina grasso, serena giardina, mariachiara mondini, chiara morandini, francesco strocchio, michele versaci, eric dell’orco, matteo silverio, eugenio bini
renderings: CRA (gary di silvio, gianluca zimbardi) and arch018

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

    PRODUCT LIBRARY

    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    architecture news