Stadio Artemio Franchi project receives financial boost

The Municipality of Florence’s ongoing efforts to transform the Stadio Artemio Franchi, home of Serie A football club Fiorentina, has been boosted after the project received a substantial funding package from the Italian government’s national recovery plan.

Italy’s Council of Ministers has approved the plan, which in total allocates around €6bn (£5.21bn/$7.24bn) to projects relating to the cultural sector. With an allocation of €95m, the Franchi redevelopment is one of 14 strategic projects labelled great cultural attractions which will be assigned €1.46bn in total.

Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities, Dario Franceschini, said: “Culture will make a great contribution to the restart of the country and the redevelopment of the Stadio Artemio Franchi, by Pierluigi Nervi, will make it possible to redevelop an admirable example of 20th century architecture, transforming it into a functional environment suited to the needs of citizens.”

The project aims to create a new sports/cultural space as a key part of the urban regeneration of the Campo di Marte area in Florence. The Franchi is considered one of the best examples of European architecture from the 20th century, with the redevelopment seeking to guarantee its original sporting function while adapting it to the safety and usability requirements of a contemporary facility.

The funding package is set to provide more than half of the money needed to redevelop the Franchi.  “At this point we can start in a few weeks with the publication of the announcement for the international design competition,” said the Mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, according to Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

“This is excellent news that confirms the commitment of the Ministry of Culture, which in addition to backing this monument, has taken steps to find the resources that will make it modern and functional.”

In February, Nardella fleshed out the Municipality’s vision for an “ambitious and wide-ranging” redevelopment of the Franchi. Nardella in January reiterated the Municipality’s commitment to the Franchi stating that an international competition would soon be launched to find a partner to conduct “one of the most important restyling interventions” in the world.

Nardella spoke after Fiorentina president Rocco Commisso slammed a ruling from Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities (MiBACT) that stated the Franchi cannot be demolished or undergo a major redevelopment due to its historic status.

The decision appeared to mark the latest blow to the club’s long-held ambitions to either redevelop the Franchi or move to a new stadium elsewhere in Tuscany. The Franchi is owned by the Municipality of Florence and in response to MiBACT’s ruling, Fiorentina said the onus was now on the authorities to deliver improvements, adding that for the club the Stadio Franchi project was “closed”.

Nardella’s office is now taking on the project in the belief that the MiBACT ruling still leaves sufficient room to significantly modernise the Franchi, which first opened in 1931.

The Franchi was designed by renowned Italian architect Pier Luigi Nervi and there had been a growing campaign to ensure the iconic aspects of the stadium were preserved. Prominent modern-day architects such as Tadao Ando and Norman Foster were amongst the signatories of an appeal letter against the demolition of the Franchi delivered to Nardella by the Pier Luigi Nervi Project Association.

Image: Sailko/CC BY 3.0/Edited for size