From aeroplane factory to scientific laboratory
Once an aeroplane factory aimed at promoting Mussolini’s hometown as a modern centre, today the tunnels of the abandoned industrial complex have been transformed into a laboratory for the study of aerodynamic turbulence.
An aeroplane factory that never took off
The aeroplane factory Aeronautica Caproni set up in 1935 was part of Mussolini’s political project to modernise the region of his origins. Besides guaranteeing employment for Predappio’s inhabitants, the factory was a symbol of the power and infallibility of the Fascist regime.
However, the reality was not so glorious. The Caproni factory, operating in a context where there was no substantial mechanical tradition never produced fighter planes, but only low technology aircraft. The whole undertaking was a strategic disaster, also because of its remote position in a hilly landscape. The airfield, for instance, was never used, since it was too short for aircraft to land.
“M” as in Mussolini
The architectural complex appears somewhat heterogeneous, integrating already existing industrial buildings. The factory buildings are arranged in a disorderly manner, also due to the hilly landscape. Two blind arcades compose a huge letter “M”, a symbolic reference to the Fascist leader Mussolini.
Science at the end of the tunnel
The run down industrial complex, used after the war first to breed chickens and later to grow mushrooms, has been abandoned for decades. Today, the subterranean tunnels, originally built for airplane production in case of bombing, have found a new use. In 2008, one of the 130 meters long tunnels was transformed into a laboratory for the study of aerodynamic turbulence. The so-called CICLoPE project (Centre for International Cooperation in Long Pipe Experiments, University of Bologna) is about to “take off”.