Mario Cucinella writes to G8 leaders for help to ‘escape’ homeland’s stifling bureaucracy

British architects frustrated about their role in procurement may take comfort from the plight of their Italian counterparts. Mario Cucinella (left), one of the most established designers in the country, has said the situation for architects has got so bad that he is asking the leaders of Britain, France, Russia and other G8 nations for “political asylum”.

In an open letter in Italian design magazine L’Arca, Cucinella wrote: “I am asking for asylum as I want to continue to work as an architect, which I cannot do in my country.” The letter then describes a land wallowing in “emergency and discomfort”.

Speaking to Building, Cucinella said his predicament was the result of a divorce between the architectural and political cultures. He said: “The deep reason is the difficulty of the culture of architects. The political class is much more interested in the culture of the contractor and consultant engineering firms.”

In his letter, Cucinella, who is a visiting professor at Nottingham university, uses examples from his own practice, including the €175m (£153m) head office of Rome council (right). The project was put on hold for two years and it remains uncertain whether it will ever go ahead.

Cucinella said: “At least in the UK some architects are well known – Norman Foster, Richard Rogers – and people recognise their social role. But not in Italy.”

Cucinella has found support from other Italian architects. Massimiliano Fuksas, who works mainly in France, said: “Italy is a country in which public administration and bureaucracy are very bad. The single biggest problem facing architects in Italy today is the lack of certainty.”

Francesco Garofalo, an architect and professor of design at the University of Pescara, said it was even harder for smaller practices. He said: “For a recent competition I had to prove that I had 12 employees for three years for a project of less than £1m. It was a project that any graduate could do with his own laptop.”