Industrial Archeology and Alessandro Rossi
Fabbrica Alta e Lanificio Francesco Rossi
Fabbrica Alta is the emblem of the Veneto’s industrial heritage.
The old Lanerossi industrial estate extends along 13 hectares to the north-west of the city, in where we find the stunning Francesco Rossi old wool mill facing Via Pasubio and the so-called Fabbrica Alta. The latter is an imposing factory joined at right angles with the old Rossi wool mill, of considerable monumental, social and urban value within the territorial context of the late 19th century. It is the emblem of the Veneto’s industrial heritage, it is for this reason that the famous publisher, Einaudi, chose it for the cover of his collection: Storia d'Italia Le Regioni dall'Unita a oggi (History of Italy, The Regions and the Unification to Date) dedicated to Veneto.
The Fabbrica Alta was designed in 1861 by Belgian architect Auguste Vivroux during his visit to Schio, according to the European multifloor model and was equipped with the most modern technology and machinery. Alessandro Rossi had important business and personal connections in Belgium and particularly in the city of Verviers. The building is 80m. long and 13m. wide, spread over five floors plus a basement and an attic; it has 330 windows, 52 dormers and a tall quadrangular chimney with an elegant pediment. Each floor has ample halls divided into three bays by 125 cast iron pillars, each of which dedicated to the different processing stages of production. The power supplying the machineries, prior to the advent of electricity, was produced by a steam engine imported from England; the material used for the construction was mainly local clay and stone. Particularly interesting here are the heads of the iron girders in the ceilings shaped like small rosettes, the original use of cotto tiles to frame the windows, the string-courses and the rhomboid motif on the garret frieze. Between 1966 and 1967 the building was cast off and the production activities were transferred to the new plants in the industrial area of Schio, while the administrative offices remained operative for a few decades. In 2013 the building became a public propriety. The Francesco Rossi Wool Mill was also rebuilt by Alessandro Rossi in 1849 on the area of his father’s original mill, located in front of the old Nicolò Tron Wool Mill (this demolished in 1878). The façade is built in the neo-classic style typical of Vicenza and has a sequence of rectangular windows, graded in height to give vertical momentum, that divide the four floors, once used for the different phases of the textile manufacturing process, and, from the end of the 20th century used as administrative offices. The grand entrance portal has an inscription with the name of the founder and the date of the mill’s foundation; we can see ten bas-reliefs on the window’s parapet, symbolizing the important entrepreneurial achievements of the Rossi family, such as merinos sheep, commercial goods and steamships. The centre of the building is still dominated by winged helmets and the caduceus, attributes of Mercury, god of trade and prosperity.