Turin’s Corraini Lingotto bookshop Image Credit: Supplied photo

Imagine a huge car factory, whose design follows the production process: assembly below and, on the roof, a 2.5km racetrack for testing the vehicles. For most of the 20th century, Turin’s Fiat plant was the city’s flagship building. It now hosts a shopping mall, the Giovanni and Marella Agnelli art gallery, and the Corraini bookshop.

As with the other five stores in this chain, it is a bookshop and a gallery specialising in art, design, photography and illustration. It shares a likeness with the Corraini bookshops in Mantua, Bologna and Milan, but Renzo Piano’s signature architecture makes it unique — and perhaps one of the brightest and most alluring bookshops in the world.

The mall’s third floor has a greenhouse-style space, with palm trees, which occupies the heart of the complex and shelves of children’s books from all over the world, exhibition catalogues from Italian museums, and temporary art shows. Up another floor, the gallery itself (which reopened this month after a refurbishment) shows a collection of paintings, featuring Canaletto and Matisse. Head up again, to the rooftop, and look out over Cesare Pavese and Primo Levi’s city far below — watch out for vertigo.