Rome Congress

Rome Congress

This project develops some of the themes explored in the earlier Tokyo Forum competition scheme. The distillation of primary activity areas allowed the practice to define the constituent parts of the building – in particular private and public spaces – with RRP’s customary clarity of architectural expression.

Placing a large exhibition/conference space within an urban setting is a complex challenge – a key aspiration was to avoid the pedestrian barriers and inactive frontages that can typically define the public realm. The context of the proposed Centro Congressi Italia was the EUR district of Rome, developed during the Fascist era as an extension of the capital in a style reflecting the Classical and Rationalist tendencies of the period – the formal and processional nature of many of the public spaces reflects the heavy emphasis placed on discipline and national unity in 1930s Italy.

The site for the Centre, intended as Italy's prime conference venue and an element of renewal for EUR, is on the Viale Cristoforo Colombo, the broad central spine of the entire quarter - imposing but far from people-friendly. The Centre is placed across the route leading from the main public transport node, the Enrico Fermi station, to the existing Palazzo dei Congressi and it was vital that this route be incorporated into the scheme.

The practice’s submission placed the new complex, with its conference halls and retail, restaurant, administrative and other support spaces, beneath a great oversailing roof, formed as a shallow vault and structurally free of supporting columns. This dramatic canopy provides a distinctive visual foil, connecting the terraced public piazza, congress square, auditorium and retail facilities. The inclined ground mass provides generous public space, partly enclosed, partly open-air, animated by escalators and wall-climber lifts serving the conference halls above and the various support spaces (including restaurants and two retail arcades) beneath. Surrounding terraces contain cafés and provide break-out facilities for the conference spaces. The public space culminates in a dramatic external amphitheatre, positioned below the main (2,000 seat) auditorium and incorporating the pedestrian route from Enrico Fermi station. A large multi-purpose hall sits on top of the great roof.

A sophisticated services programme was developed for this project, exploiting the thermal mass of the concrete underbelly of the building as a climate moderator, optimising the use of controlled natural light and natural ventilation, and potentially using photovoltaic cells as a source of power. Ventilation within the conference halls is provided by a low velocity displacement system rather than conventional air conditioning.

AR/MIPIM Future Project Award High Commendation 2003
Royal Academy Summer Exhibition Gold Medal AJ / Bovis Award 2001
Location Rome, Italy
Type Culture & Leisure
Dates 2000
Client Centro Congressi Italia
The Architect Richard Rogers Partnership
Louise Barnett, Maurice Brennan, Andy Bryce, Russell Gilchrist, Mark Hallett, Carmel Lewin, Andrea Parigi, Richard Paul, Richard Rogers, Andrei Saltykov, Patricia Sendin, Kish Sohal, Graham Stirk, David Thompson, Simon Williams-Gunn, Nick Zervoglos
Quantity Surveyor Hanscomb Ltd
Services Engineer Arup
Structural Engineer Arup
Traffic Consultant Arup Transportation

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