Rome authority criticises Nuvola project

Europe's largest conference centre slammed by Rome public contracts authority

Rome's controversial Nuvola conference centre project has come under fire from the authority for the supervision of public contracts (AVCP) which has sent its findings for inspection by the public prosecutor of the auditor's court.

The AVCP issued a scathing judgement on the incomplete structure which was designed by prominent Rome architect Massimiliano Fuksas and is situated on Via Cristoforo Colombo in the south Rome suburb EUR.

The body highlighted the spiralling costs of what will be Europe's largest conference centre, which has so far been allocated €276 million in funds.

The AVCP criticised the futuristic project's "excessive slowness" as well as the “disproportionate” sums paid out to Fuksas as artistic director “compared to the activity actually carried out.” Fuksas has received a total of €4.5 million as artistic director but was recently dropped from the position.

Fuksas stresses that he was not fired, merely not invited to return as artistic director for 2014. However it has been reported that Eur Spa, the company managing the 27,000-sqm site, asked Fuksas to continue in his role for free but he allegedly refused.

The Nuvola was approved officially in 1998, under the tenure of then mayor Francesco Rutelli, but due to various legal wrangles construction work did not begin until almost a decade later. The project should have been finished in December 2010 but is currently only 80 per cent complete. Fuksas encountered further difficulties with last year's arrival of new mayor Ignazio Marino who is known to be ill-disposed to the extravagant scheme.

The outspoken architect now says the Nuvola “will remain incomplete, this story will end up in court, like everything in Italy,” however Eur Spa president Pierluigi Borghini pledges the project will be ready within a year.

The conceptual project gets its name (nuvola means “cloud” in Italian) from the undefined cloud-like shapes used in its design. Fuksas' structure is built of silicone, fibreglass, glass and steel, and much of its energy will be generated by solar panels from the roof. Fuksas has created revolutionary structures all over the world, from Israel to Nigeria to China, as well as the rooftop glass dome at the H&M building on Rome's Via Tomacelli.

To get an idea of the enormous scale of the project see video and related article