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Stadio Artemio Franchi contract award faces opposition

Luca Dini, whose Luca Dini Design & Architecture studio worked in association with Populous to become one of the eight finalists in the design competition for the redevelopment of Stadio Artemio Franchi, has said an appeal will be lodged against the award of the contract to the Italian division of Arup.

Engineering and design consultancy Arup was on Monday selected to lead the revamp of the Franchi, home of Serie A football club Fiorentina. The Municipality of Florence announced that Arup Italia’s proposal had been selected to reimagine the ageing stadium, with David Hirsch to serve as chief designer.

Arup’s proposal was one of eight shortlisted by the Municipality in October. Those shortlisted had until February 1 to enter their preliminary projects.

The Municipality launched an international design competition for the project back in June, with 31 applications having been submitted during the initial stage of the contest. As well as the stadium, the competition sought proposals which would create a new sports/cultural space as a key part of the urban regeneration of the Campo di Marte area in Florence.

However, Dini is contesting the award of the contract, claiming the process wasn’t followed correctly. He told broadcaster Lady Radio: “We are between the two excluded studios, it seems due to a form defect. Our project was therefore not even evaluated. 

“Are we sure that Florence has chosen the best project? We will appeal, I have an appointment with the lawyers. Are we sure we have given Florence the best stadium? For me, the one that won is the worst of the eight projects. I wanted to compete. They could have taken away points, not completely excluded us.”

Arup Italia’s project is set to see the Franchi, which first opened in 1931, redeveloped from its current capacity of around 43,000 to have a final capacity of at least 40,000 seats.

The project will be financed in part through a substantial funding package of €95m (£79.3m/$104.4m) granted in April 2021 from the Italian government’s national recovery plan (NRP). At the time of the launch of the design competition, Florence Mayor, Dario Nardella, had stated that the stadium redevelopment was expected to cost €137.5m in total.

Nardella has stated that appeals will not derail the project. He said yesterday (Tuesday), according to the Firenze Today website: “To the fans, to Fiorentina, to the city, I want to say that administrative disputes will not delay the progress of the planning and execution of the works by even one day. It will not affect the timing.”

Nardella added that projects related to the NRP have streamlined procedures, and will not be stopped as a precaution in the event of appeals. He continued: “We had taken into account possible appeals, also because this was the most difficult and ambitious international competition ever held in Italy in recent years.

“We are at stake and we will play all the cards to carry out the work, also because we are well advanced. Within 59 days we will be delivering the technical and economic feasibility project, which is also necessary to be able to obtain funding from the Ministry of Culture.”

The Municipality has said construction is expected to commence in the autumn of 2023, with the project expected for completion in 2026, tying in with Fiorentina’s centenary.

Images: Città di Firenze