In an effort to eliminate inventory, reduce the time and expense of transportation, duty and tariffs, and to get into closer contact with consumers a new model of manufacturing and retailing has been developing: the merger of the factory and the retail brand shop.
Until today, the architectural response has been to adapt the museum typology to this phenomenon; examples include Coop Himmelblau’s BMW Welt, UN Studio’s Mercedes-Benz Museum, the Stuttgart Porsche Museum and Audi Mobile Museum Ingolstadt. These buildings tell the story of the companies and their products through spatial promenades ending in shops, inventory and test tracks adjacent to corporate headquarters. This studio will begin with the typology of the factory and instead of exhibitions of corporate legacy it will bring the dynamism of final assembly, testing, training and tuning to be experienced by visitors.
The studio will have a chance to interact with the senior leadership of the Piaggio Group and to visit the Vespa Factory in Pontedera and Moto Guzzi factory in Mandello for background and inspiration. In addition we will study the integration of a test track and vertical manufacturing at the Lingotto Fiat Factory in Turin as well as contemporary small production factories in the ‘Motor Valley’ of Modena. Mobility products such as these will make up the content for the factory shop and although site will not be of primary concern for the studio the location for the factory shop will be one of four urban sites in either the EU, USA, South America or Asia and should reflect the mobility and urban culture of the region.
The studio will spend some time becoming familiar with contemporary fabrication and assembly processes. Industrial scale processes familiar to Yale Architecture students at model building scale will be examined at the scale of transportation manufacturing for their ability to transform the assembly process and introduce it into showroom and retail environments. In the same way that the gantry crane was introduced into the building structure of the 19th and 20th century factory so too can the universal robotic arm, 3D printing head and CNC mill be introduced into the factory store. The integration of these machines into the structure of the building and its experience by visitors will be the primary focus of the studio.