An endless red waterfall of tomatoes will wow visitors at the new headquarters for Mutti – one of the world’s leading tomato brands that processes 300,000 tons of the fleshy vegetables every year. Carlo Ratti Associati just unveiled their competition-winning design for the new masterplan and factory in Italy that playfully taps into something they call “tomato architecture.” In addition to public viewing areas for the live processing of tomatoes — up to 5,500 tons per day — the visitor center’s walls will be made up of thousands of glass tomato sauce jars for dramatic effect.
Set near Parma in Italy’s “Food Valley,” Mutti’s new 2.5 million-square-foot headquarters will overhaul the company’s existing facilities and open up the factory to visitors. The most striking part of the design will be the semi-transparent tomato-sauce jar walls that stretch 400 feet wide and soar to 23 feet in height. The Mutti logo will mark the structure, which will be digitally lit at night. The new visitor center will include a restaurant surrounded by an orchard, an auditorium, control room showcasing the food processing stages, and a public rooftop terrace where people can watch the dramatic “red cascade” of millions of tomatoes poured into wash basins.
“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.” A 240,000-square-foot biodiversity park will also surround the renovated factory. Construction is slated to begin 2018 and will be completed in 2023.