Impact Hub Torino (Turin, in English) is one of the newest in Impact Hub network. Hub Storyteller Ann Storr was in the neighbourhood and dropped to learn more about the Hub, how it was designed and experienced severe kitchen envy.
Turin, Piedemont, is in the north-west of Italy; when you fly in or out, you pass ober the Alps and *everyone* peers out of the windows. Turin has been an industrial city for centuries – the “T” in car makers “fiat” stands for Turin, and its factory is still going strong in the city. Remember the car chase at the end of the original ‘Italian Job’? Filmed at Fiat! As with many economies, industrial and manufacturing sectors declined massively in the late 1960s and 70s. As you walk around the City, there are a lot of abandoned factories, grass and leaves growing through walls and windows.
The Piedmontese locality (council) is concentrating on social innovation and entrepreneurship to help regenerate this part of the city. The Hub is located in a development called Incet, a collection of repurposed factories brought to new life. Businesses there include a café called Edit, which stands for “eat drink innovate together”. Which sounds like impact Hub Brixton all over. Turin is also the home of the Slow Food Movement (its conference was in full swing when I was there), so the city seems to value new projects with an interesting vision.
The Hub was founded by Marilù Sansone and Laura Cosa; Marliù had spent time in Hub Amsterdam, so she knew what she wanted to achieve: a light and airy space, with dedicated area for quiet work, places to talk and a wonderful kitchen to enable Hubbers to enjoy chatting, cooking and eating together. And, good god they have achieved this: light pours into the Hub through a glass ceiling and huge windows on either side of the space. “Natural light is so important to us, and we only use electric when it’s really dark” she told me. Heaven.
The hotdesking space is monastically quiet, with chat discouraged (2 muting booths and a phone room were installed to enable conversation). To Marylù, quiet space is imperative “visitors always tell us how they love the quiet”, because it’s so unusual. It’s not just quiet – it’s the calm of people concentrating.
A meeting room has the most beautiful conference table made from a patchwork of off-cuts from hexagonal co-working desks. “We spent the budget on the walls and windows” Marylù explained, “so we asked the carpenter to take the off-cuts from the desks to make this!”. The training desk is beautiful. The different shapes bring movement to the room because each section is made from between 3 and 6 pieces of wood. The natural lines of the wood and irregular shapes catch and reflect the light in the way a standard wood or lino covered desk couldn’t ever do. The grain of each panel would be moved to make best fit, further adding to the texture and feel of the piece. Also: irregular shapes make for natural gaps for cables, essential for freelancer meetings.
The kitchen is your place to chat. The small community of about 30 Hubbers share breakfast and lunch, sitting around a stunning concrete and wooden table. Cooking and good food is intrinsic to Italian culture, so the architects were tasked to create a space where natural interactions could happen. There’s a long counter with a sink big enough to wash armfuls of greens (or soak a burned roasting tin), a hob, an oven, and loads of space for chopping. The espresso machine uses artisanal coffee from a Piedmontese roaster, to further increase links with the local food community.
The community is new and growing; three businesses have offices for digital marketing and web development. It’s an exciting time and the Hub is hosting innovative sessions on social business and creativity. It was very interesting to see how the Impact Hub vision is different in Turin, and great to know that I could stop in and find a base, so far from home. So Hubbers, whenever you travel, don’t be shy – drop in at the local Hub and make the most out of this beautiful, global, network that we are part of.