What should you expect?
World-class events, Egyptian mummies, Arduino, magic lanterns, an entire medieval town, a skatepark, an open-source apartment and a vast industrial warehouse.
The Big Picture
What you have to do, is to imagine Toolbox Coworking less like just another “space where you cowork” and more like a full-speed, high-octane innovation engine. It’s a place that will give your ideas momentum, no matter what they are or what means you need to achieve them.
It’s homemade and open-source, handcrafted and about as authentic as you can get.
From world-class workshop and event-supported coworking, to creating and prototyping computer hardware, to sewing, to making furniture, light fixtures, art installations and more – all the tools are here, last but certainly not least, the supportive and hugely collaborative community that gives life to the space.
Even their kitchen is part of this philosophy, having been created entirely in the space’s fablab, and serving up delicious food every workday. After its namesake, this is a toolbox, whose tools make everything in the space possible – from the community to the cooking, it’s homemade and open-source, handcrafted and about as authentic as you can get.
What You’ll Learn from the Space
What you’ll learn here, is how a coworking space can be an innovation ecosystem for everything!
The large, home-grown community of Toolbox includes (but is not limited to): design, copywriters, marketers, photographers, communications specialists, journalists, lawyers, developers, graphic designers, artists, industrial designers, engineers and makers of many types who work across many media.
You won’t find experts in open-source atomic engineering, or in how to build a cyborg army but hey – who knows!
Toolbox combines many elements that most coworking spaces only specialise in. They have a huge open office space as well as an equally large sectioned private office floor, they have a fablab and fab kitchen (+ a skatepark!)
They are home to Arduino, the amazing open-source hardware developer, they host an open-source house called Casa Jasmina which is a pivotal statement in the maker movement, and they host enough huge events and collaborative conferences to rival the continent’s largest get-togethers.
It’s open-doors, open-source and open-minded: here, you’ll find a support network for anything you need, and we mean anything (maybe you won’t find experts in open-source atomic engineering or in how to build a cyborg army but hey – who knows!)
Where You’ll Find the Space
Toolbox is headquartered in a vast old factory and warehouse, in an old abandoned train yard surrounded by other vast old factories and warehouses.
Part of a larger abandoned train yard and industrial complex, these are the relics of Turin’s heyday as the “Detroit of Italy.” As the home-base for Fiat (whose acronym is actually “Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino”) and manufacturing capital for the European automobile empires, Turin’s economy and population deteriorated after the oil crisis of the 1970s.
Toolbox is the new way of doing things: socially, dynamically, and together.
But let’s fast forward: Aurelio Balestra, the founder and vision behind Toolbox, actually first worked for a company in the building that later abandoned the property. Where other people saw a dingy, rusted-out factory in an old industrial zone – he saw an opportunity to make something innovative and inspiring for a new economic age.
A space for taking the making of businesses and objects into the hands of people themselves, quite a strong statement in a large warehouse district emblematic of the “old” modes of production. The Toolbox is the new way of doing things: socially, dynamically, and together, and they set the standard for coworking in Turin – if not much further abroad.
To get to the space, you can take the tram #4 to-and-from the city centre, or the city’s metro to the “Dante” stop, from which Toolbox is a mere 5-minute walk. The surrounding triangle, sandwiched between train tracks, is home to Toolbox and other up-and-coming establishments, including a design school.
Where You’ll Be Working
The space itself is spread across two floors in its luminous, loft-windowed warehouse. The bottom floor is their “coworking” area, with over 200 desks, Fablab Torino, and a big fab kitchen with seats and workspace. Upstairs you’ll find Arduino’s workspace and many private offices, with around 200+ more places for private use.
Initiated as quite separate projects, it was the coworking part of the space that acted as a magnet to bring everything together. After the coworking area became popular, Fablab Torino setup shop in the space after a temporary setup elsewhere. A bike workshop was installed, the kitchen was self-constructed, and other events spaces were furnished and decorated as Toolbox expanded further into its industrial property.
Fablab Torino offers an impressive dimension to the workspace, with a full kit of maker materials and tools for everything from clothing fabrication to hardware engineering. Plus, with Arduino in-house, you can begin to understand how this is a global hub for the Maker Movement.
Tip! In such an active space, there’s a ton of buzz happening all the time. If you ever need anything, or have any questions on literally *anything,* just ask Aurelio. He’s the go-to guy for everything from events and activities, to engineering, to toilet problems.
Where You’ll Be Living
For city-centre accommodation, we’d recommend you look into a couple of things:
Only a 15 minute walk from Toolbox, you’ll find Residence Sacchi. A newly renovated building with comfortable studios and ample apartments, some rooms have kitchens and laundry machines, helpful if you plan to stay more than a few days. 5 minutes from the main train station, and blocks away from the historical centre, it’s perfect for getting around.
If you’re looking for something a little more relaxing, homely with a lovely terrace, look no further than La Terrazzo all Ghiacciaia. Located a bit further north in the neighbourhood of Aurora, it’s also walking distance from the city centre, the *largest* European open market just next door at Porta Palazzo, and the owner (Cecilia) makes delicious homemade marmalade!
And for something (much) further out (but we wanted to mention it because it’s awesome), lose yourself in the countryside while resting at Bella Baita. Located right in the alps in a tiny town called Serremarchetto, it’s a one hour drive from Turin and totally off the beaten path for tourists. Serving food all locally and organically sourced, you can eat and hike through beautiful deer-inhabited forests of the Alps, for only €60 for 2 people per night!
We also recommend you check out AirBnB for some nice options. Check out this crazy apartment with tons of paintings. See that photo below? Yeah, that’s the bathroom (yup, with a zebra skin barber chair…) Otherwise check out this luminous central property with big French windows, or this voluminous flat also right at the heart of Turin.
Tip! Ever wanted to stay in an open-source apartment? Because you can actually stay at the Casa Jasmina open-source apartment right in Toolbox! Through AirBnB (yes, welcome to the future). Alas, it’s currently only available for large fairs and festivals, and will be tricky to get a reservation, but keep an eye out!
The Events You Will Go To
So, speaking on behalf of the guys at Toolbox, we’ve gotta be honest. The events you find here are on a rockstar level. Even the space’s birthday parties become massive fests, where you could feel like you’re at a cool conference, not a ‘birthday cake shindig, lighting candles get-together with mates.’ From workshops to hangouts, festivals to exhibitions – they take events to a level of awesomeness.
There are two events they do every year that you have to know about.
First, they run the Freelance day. Dedicated to the most dynamic and independent work force in Italy, it’s a day geared to support freelancers across all industries and specialisations through the stages of early business development. They do this in a typical “Toolbox” fashion, by having 30 presentations and workshops in 12 hours.
It’s funny, because this rather “normal event” for Toolbox is on the scale of international and global conferences! They’ve got it filled out with Italian entrepreneurs from every corner of the country, and they do some fun activities and host a food truck (not to mention what’s cooked up in the fab kitchen!) With new talks beginning every half hour, you’re bound to learn a lot from this legendary hangout.
Oh, and on top of all this, did we mention it’s free? You can expect this kind of quality from Toolbox.
Second, they host the Turin branch of the global Mini Maker Faire. In case you don’t know it, this is “the greatest show (and tell) on earth” – where designers, scientists artists, engineers, garage tinkerers, crafters and just normal people show the world what they’re making.
For all ages, backgrounds and skillets, this event is cosponsored by Toolbox, Fablab Torino and Arduino in the space. This year, it served to be the landmark opening for Casa Jasmina – the world’s first fully open-source apartment, curated by infamous science fiction author Bruce Sterling. This event is a groundbreaking expression of the maker movement, at the heart of a space that’s all about this kind of open innovation.
These aside, they also once hosted an event where SIXTY MAYORS from all around Italy came together to do some collaborative cooking for a Smart City project. A good chance for politicians to learn from this league of innovators…!
What You Will Eat
Face it: you’re in Italy, so there’s a wealth of delicious food for you to enjoy. But you should start with a slightly unorthodox suggestion – the vending machine in Toolbox, in the chillout area. You’ll find something here that’s not particularly nutritious, but awesome in any case: an Arduino chip! Just like a KitKat, pay and you’ll get your very own open-source board to work away on
For something a little more nutritious, try the fab kitchen. Often, there are big groups cooking in the fab kitchen and you can catch some leftovers, or you can bring some food yourself and whip something up with friends! It’s a huge cooking area with room for at least eight to cook, so during lunch rush hour you’ll be able to find a space.
If you want to step out for a bit, try Alla Lettera in the city centre. With fresh focaccia, homemade pasta and a big selection of cheap and good pizzas for lunch, it’s a go-to local Italian joint – for and by Italians! You can also try Eatily, which is a chain of restaurants born from Turin that does typical Italian food, but does it well. There’s also a store where you can buy quality pasta and mozzarella, and more (for cooking back at Toolbox!)
Tip! The fab kitchen is made particularly useful as a shared kitchen. It’s not *just* a common kitchen, but it is designed for rapid use by many people with modular storage and an industrial dishwasher, you can be in and out in minutes, rather than waiting for someone else to do the dishes or finish chopping.
Most parties happen at Toolbox. From birthdays to workshops, events tend to spill over (intentionally or unintentionally!) into fun afterparties and hangouts around the space.
Otherwise, check out the neighbourhood at the end of Via Ageo. The triangular zone that Toolbox partially occupies is quiet and pretty abandoned, but the green Cesare park is just a few minutes walk and is worth it for a breath of fresh air. You can also try some of the bars near Via Solero just across the road.
But, to be honest, this is one of the few spaces where you’ll be inclined to not want to go anywhere! There’s so much activity and life here, that you won’t even feel the need to get out, especially if you’re just around for a few days. The more you tap in while you’re there, the more rewarding your experience (night & day) will be.
And in Turin, there’s some other cool stuff you definitely have to see.
Take a look at the Antonelliana Museum of Cinema. Situated in the city’s iconic Mole Antonelliana built in 1889, this synagogue-turned-public building was called by its architect a ‘vertical dream.’ With over 20,000 cinema devices, objects and paintings, you can witness pre-cinema motion picture devices like the fascinating magic lanterns!
Did you know Turin is famous for Egyptian mummies? Yes, that’s right – pop into the Museo Egizio for a tour of one of the world’s largest collections of Egyptian artefacts. With tons of sarcophagi, gold treasures and the oldest Egyptian Book of the Dead in the world, it’s a marvel to witness – plus the building is so beautiful it was filmed in the 1969 film, The Italian Job.
Walk around the mystical streets of Borgo Medievale – a reconstructed medieval town created in the 1800s. You’ll find period actors and signs and decorations along narrow alleys that pretty accurately represent life in a much older Turin – a world away from the postindustrialism of Toolbox
Finally – after a busy day of coworking (or medieval streetwalking, or archaeological exploration) have a nightcap at the Murazzi Torino, right on the river. It’s a fun and bustling alternative nightlife destination, full of bars and pubs in old ex-fisherman storerooms and warehouses. Start next to the large 19th century church, Gran Madre di Dio and along the water you’ll find plenty to explore.
The Practical Stuff
The Copass Crew