I’m not in the habit of blogging other people’s photography, but this is somewhat special.
This is the La Serra complex, an architectural remnant from the 1970’s, complete with a cinema, hotel and large hall. It stands in the little Italian town of Ivrea, the home of Camillo Olivetti and his once-bustling computer company. It was built to serve as a social and cultural meeting place and urban upgrade for the quaint town.
The complex soon earned the nickname ‘typewriter’ thanks to it’s design mimicking one of Olivetti’s main products. Inside however, the 55 mini-apartments of the hotel are inspired by naval interior design to make them more compact: fold-away furniture, tiered rooms and hidden compartments.
My father’s business trips as an Olivetti employee were often followed with a retelling of what funny new corner was discovered, or how he couldn’t find the well-concealed en suite bathroom.
As a kid I dreamed about this hotel built like a ship.
While planning my upcoming travels to Europe and first Italy visit, the memory of the magical ship-hotel resurfaced and I went on an internet hunt to find it. Unfortunately various dead-looking ends were unanimous in saying that hotel La Serra was closed about 12 years ago and the complex is used only partly if at all.
This is generally sad and fascinating( as most abandoned, once thriving places are). More personally it made me realise that old flickers of hope are the most resilient. In reality it was only a small hotel that wanted to save on space and be original – but the kind of wonder and imagination we had as children about the unknown seems hard to fire up the older you get. Losing the possibility of fulfilling one of those dreams feels unfair, if only to the idea of yourself as an enchanted child.
Hey, maybe I’ll go to Ivrea anyway, in honour of child-like wonder, or perhaps one day find a ‘ship hotel’ elsewhere.
It’s never too late, or so they say.