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British star firms hit by Spanish crunch

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Foster + Partners has withdrawn from an international design competition in Spain, fuelling rumours that the global economic crisis is impacting on the practice’s international presence

The practice had been invited along with a number of international architects to design a new mirador, or small look-out tower, in the town of Elche, Alicante.

A Foster + Partners spokesperson declined to give any specific reason for the company’s decision to pull out of the competition, organised by Elche Town Hall. A winner is expected to be unveiled later this month.

The withdrawal represents the latest blow to the UK’s architectural presence in Spain, as the country’s construction industry continues its steady decline.

It was reported in the media this week that another Foster + Partners project, the firm’s £230 million remodelling of the Camp Nou stadium for Barcelona Football Club is also believed to be delayed indefinitely, as construction slows down across the city and real estate prices fall sharply. The proposed revamp, which would have expanded the seating capacity of Europe’s largest stadium from 98,000 to 106,000, was unveiled by the Catalan club in September 2007.

‘As far as we have been told that project is still ongoing, but it is true that nothing has gone on there for quite a while now,’ a spokesperson told the AJ.

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners has also seen work stop at a major Barcelona site, the half-built transformation
of the city’s 19th-century Las Arenas bullring, due to unpaid bills to the contractors. The proposal would have seen the bullring turned into a leisure and shopping centre, but has now stalled.

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