Textile Clouds: Congress Centre and Hotel in Rome
Builder: Eur SpA
Architect: Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas
Location: Rom (IT)
The focal point of the complex, called New Rome, is a 165-metre-long cuboid. The surrounding glazed yet massive volume is complemented by a 17-storey high-rise intended for a 439-room hotel on the southern longitudinal side. Both structures rise over an extensive lower level that offers many usable halls of various sizes over its 17,000 m².
First of all, visitors are led via a monumental free-standing stairway to the exhibition level. There they have the possibility to take an escalator to the forum on the ground level. Here, they have a view of the entire interior space, which is dominated by a free form covered in white fabric that seems to float freely. Elevators and another escalator lead into the inside of this structure, known as the Cloud. The skin, made of woven fibreglass, allows only diffuse, milky light to penetrate and creates an atmosphere removed from the outer world and the hall on its three open levels. These areas serve as foyer zones for the wood-clad auditorium, which has 1,800 seats.
Each of the three nesting zones corresponds to an independent construction: the outer cuboid consists of six steel frames with vertical Vierendeel trusses and horizontal trussed girders which span the 66-m width of the hall without supports.
Inside, the Cloud is supported by a spatial steel framework rounded on its underside. This material-intensive construction is elevated at only three points. In addition, it has been suspended from the hall’s supporting framework using three lateral cantilever arms. Both the steel skeleton of the three open levels and the rounded, multi-clad steel framework of the auditorium stand on this table-like construction. The subconstruction of the membrane is carried here as well; it is also supported at points under the levels and the auditorium. From the outer surface, the steel girders found everywhere inside the Cloud look like dark shadows – especially at night, when they appear as a huge lamp sheltered by the hall.