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Monday, July 14, 2008

New Congress Hall, Rome, Italy

The great “Cloud of Congress” is slowly descending on the EUR district of Rome
Hailed as "one of the most beautiful projects in the world" by Rome’s ex-mayor Walter Veltroni, the New Congress Hall by indigenous Studio Fuksas is set to become a landmark of the Modern City of Rome.

Fuksas' project is the response to a competition held in 1998 by the Council of Rome to reinforce the international image of the Italian capital in the panorama of congress and international meetings.

Nine years passed before work on the foundations could begin and in the meantime the building has become an urban legend. Amongst Romans it is widely referred to as “la nuvola” (the cloud) and it already holds the intrinsic ephemeral qualities of a cloud: it is there but you can’t really grasp it.

The building will surface at the junction of 4 major roman arteries on a vacant parking lot. It will present itself as a translucent parallelepiped, 39m high, 75m wide and 198m long. On two sides squares will open to the neighbourhood and the city and offer natural gathering spaces for the site users. The simplicity of the exterior shape pays tribute to the linearity of rationalism in architecture, the movement that in the 1930’s produced the iconic buildings that still characterize the horizon of the EUR business district.

Inside the container, a 3500 sq m cloud of steel and glass fibre is suspended on a surface of 10, 000 sq m: it will be the home of an auditorium with a capacity of 1800 seats. The cloud will be held in place by an orthogonal grid of woven beams: suspended between the pavement and the ceiling of the big congress hall it will exclusively rest on three vertical elements.

In true Fuksas style, great importance is given to the morphing power of light: illumination within the cloud will create the illusion of a vibrant structure.

The appearance of the inner structure will change depending on the viewpoint and will be in constant transformation; trapped in the container, the cloud will seem fluctuating as if pushed by the current of a wind.

The New Centre of Congress will also house 2 conference rooms of 5000 and 3000 sq m each, vast foyers, meetings rooms, cafés and a restaurant welcoming around 10,000 people. Works are expected to complete by 2010
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