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May 24, 2010

On the banks of Lake Como, in the Lombardy region of Italy, rests the location of one of the most prestigious automobile events in the world, the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. Beginning in 1929, this showcase has existed for the industry's leading manufacturers to display cutting-edge design and engineering.This parade of classic vehicles, juxtaposed against concept cars of the future, is a fine example of tradition meeting innovation, as is the architectural backdrop: the stunning Villa Erba, built in 1898 and the onetime family home of legendary Italian director Luchino Visconti, is set against the dramatic Spazio Villa Erba, designed by architect Mario Bellini in 1990.

Spazio Villa Erba, the glass-and steel-structure designed by architect Mario Bellini, was inspired by the greenhouses of the centuries-old aristocratic villas on Lake Como. It hosts some of the rarest automobiles in the world as the home to Concorso d'Ele
Spazio Villa Erba, the glass-and steel-structure designed by architect Mario Bellini, was inspired by the greenhouses of the centuries-old aristocratic villas on Lake Como. It hosts some of the rarest automobiles in the world as the home to Concorso d'Eleganza.
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From the port it's an easy walk to Villa Erba and signs welcome guests and exhibitors to the 2010 Concorso. The town of Cernobbio, with its classic Italian architecture and lush vegetation, is the perfect location for a grand car show.
From the port it's an easy walk to Villa Erba and signs welcome guests and exhibitors to the 2010 Concorso. The town of Cernobbio, with its classic Italian architecture and lush vegetation, is the perfect location for a grand car show.
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Bellini's technical notes explain that the central pavilion is built with a steel frame hung from three reinforced concrete towers. The dome is surrounded on all sides by a reflecting pool, and as the notes describe, almost seems to float over an artifici
Bellini's technical notes explain that the central pavilion is built with a steel frame hung from three reinforced concrete towers. The dome is surrounded on all sides by a reflecting pool, and as the notes describe, almost seems to float over an artificial pond.
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Exhibition designers choose simple fabric strings to create and separate space for this exhibit, which minimizes waste after tear-down and allows both natural and artificial light to filter freely.
Exhibition designers choose simple fabric strings to create and separate space for this exhibit, which minimizes waste after tear-down and allows both natural and artificial light to filter freely.
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The glass-steel-and-cement dome, or Plenary Room, was minimally dressed for BMW's exhibition. The space blends perfectly with the main Villa and revolves around the central pavilion.
The glass-steel-and-cement dome, or Plenary Room, was minimally dressed for BMW's exhibition. The space blends perfectly with the main Villa and revolves around the central pavilion.
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A legendary BMW 328 Touring Coupe. It won the 1939 24-Hour race at LeMans and the Mille Miglia in 1940. Bellini's dome is the core of the fair space and is noted as the symbolic center, with three exhibition wings branching out from it (Lario, Cernobbio a
A legendary BMW 328 Touring Coupe. It won the 1939 24-Hour race at LeMans and the Mille Miglia in 1940. Bellini's dome is the core of the fair space and is noted as the symbolic center, with three exhibition wings branching out from it (Lario, Cernobbio and Regina). Each space is half-structured and extremely functional, designed to be either independent or communicating, depending on the needs of the exhibitor.
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A 1938 BMW 327 Coupe, one of only 86 produced, and a R71 Motorbike represent that era's state-of-the-art-design. Conceived upon principles of aerodynamics, both are lightweight and low slung.
A 1938 BMW 327 Coupe, one of only 86 produced, and a R71 Motorbike represent that era's state-of-the-art-design. Conceived upon principles of aerodynamics, both are lightweight and low slung.
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A collection of BMW 328s on the lawn in front of the Lario Wing of Spazio Villa Erba.
A collection of BMW 328s on the lawn in front of the Lario Wing of Spazio Villa Erba.
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A 1930 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Super Sport from Museo Storico sits in front of the Cernobbio Wing at Spazio Villa Erba.
A 1930 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Super Sport from Museo Storico sits in front of the Cernobbio Wing at Spazio Villa Erba.
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A 1954 Alfa Romeo 2000 Sportiva is framed by Villa Erba. Before the war, the villa was host to extraordinary parties with notable guests, artists and personalities from the political and industrial worlds.
A 1954 Alfa Romeo 2000 Sportiva is framed by Villa Erba. Before the war, the villa was host to extraordinary parties with notable guests, artists and personalities from the political and industrial worlds.
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The Plenary Room dome and Cernobbio wing with reflecting pool. This large lakeside park, known for the abundance of century-old trees and collections of azaleas and hydrangeas, forms an integral part of the exhibition space.
The Plenary Room dome and Cernobbio wing with reflecting pool. This large lakeside park, known for the abundance of century-old trees and collections of azaleas and hydrangeas, forms an integral part of the exhibition space.
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The space-age 1952 Alfa Romeo 1900 Disco Volante or "Flying Saucer." During this period, science fiction and UFO sightings played heavily into the cultural imagination.
The space-age 1952 Alfa Romeo 1900 Disco Volante or "Flying Saucer." During this period, science fiction and UFO sightings played heavily into the cultural imagination.
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A stunning collection of 507s and 328s—some of the most sought-after BMWs by collectors.
A stunning collection of 507s and 328s—some of the most sought-after BMWs by collectors.
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The world premier of the concept Alfa Romeo TZ3 Corsa by design house Zagato commemorates Alfa's 100th Anniversary and their longstanding collaboration. This photograph defines the Concorso—old meets new.
The world premier of the concept Alfa Romeo TZ3 Corsa by design house Zagato commemorates Alfa's 100th Anniversary and their longstanding collaboration. This photograph defines the Concorso—old meets new.
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The Lario Wing at Spazio Villa Erba is constructed of glass sheets and steel. The architect describes this wing as characterized by free curved lines, in subtle harmony with the existing trees.
The Lario Wing at Spazio Villa Erba is constructed of glass sheets and steel. The architect describes this wing as characterized by free curved lines, in subtle harmony with the existing trees.
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A statement in economical, sensible and efficient transportation: the BMW Isetta. Its front-opening door and glass "greenhouse" interior gave way to it being known as the "bubble-car." This "microcar" was meant for short-distance travel and stands at a mi
A statement in economical, sensible and efficient transportation: the BMW Isetta. Its front-opening door and glass "greenhouse" interior gave way to it being known as the "bubble-car." This "microcar" was meant for short-distance travel and stands at a minimal 7.5 ft long by 4.5 ft wide. Designed in Italy, it can accommodate two adults (and maybe a small child) comfortably.
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The reflecting pool off the main Plenary room dome.
The reflecting pool off the main Plenary room dome.
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A beautiful example of Mario Bellini's architecture, set against rare BMW motorcars and motorbikes. Notice the limited use of artificial light—Bellini's design takes advantage of the natural sunlight through the 360-degree glass walls.
A beautiful example of Mario Bellini's architecture, set against rare BMW motorcars and motorbikes. Notice the limited use of artificial light—Bellini's design takes advantage of the natural sunlight through the 360-degree glass walls.
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A 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport Zagato Spider.
A 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport Zagato Spider.
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A baby blue 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Touring Coupe.
A baby blue 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Touring Coupe.
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A look at Bellini's dome with a collection of rare BMW 507s and visitors at Concorso d'Eleganza. According to Bellin's design notes, the walls are built with cement blocks with rose-ochre paste coloring, echoing that of the front of the existing Villa Erb
A look at Bellini's dome with a collection of rare BMW 507s and visitors at Concorso d'Eleganza. According to Bellin's design notes, the walls are built with cement blocks with rose-ochre paste coloring, echoing that of the front of the existing Villa Erba. The dome roof support towers are faced in travertine and the flooring consists of gray lava and travertine slabs.
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Bellini's design incorporates small, stark corners and large rounded free-flowing curves. The entire structure represents the extreme in polyfunctionality technology. Each space can be transformed quickly from intimate areas to grand, open exhibition spac
Bellini's design incorporates small, stark corners and large rounded free-flowing curves. The entire structure represents the extreme in polyfunctionality technology. Each space can be transformed quickly from intimate areas to grand, open exhibition space.
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For participants in the Concorso, the hundreds of hours of painstaking restoration, preparation and transport, culminate in a few minutes of judgement.
For participants in the Concorso, the hundreds of hours of painstaking restoration, preparation and transport, culminate in a few minutes of judgement.
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Spazio Villa Erba, the glass-and steel-structure designed by architect Mario Bellini, was inspired by the greenhouses of the centuries-old aristocratic villas on Lake Como. It hosts some of the rarest automobiles in the world as the home to Concorso d'Ele
Spazio Villa Erba, the glass-and steel-structure designed by architect Mario Bellini, was inspired by the greenhouses of the centuries-old aristocratic villas on Lake Como. It hosts some of the rarest automobiles in the world as the home to Concorso d'Eleganza.

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