A €1.4bn (£1.2bn) scheme in Madrid designed by some of the UK’s most prestigious architects is under threat

Zaha Hadid Architects, Foster + Partners, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and Foreign Office Architects (FOA) were appointed to design elements of Madrid’s City of Justice in 2007.

But FOA walked off the project last week, and now it has emerged that architects on the scheme, which involves the construction of 19 buildings,have been asked to down pens owing to financial concerns about the project.

A source from one of the practices involved said: “These are difficult times, and the scheme in general is on hold. As far as we understand, nobody is working on designs for it.”

It is also understood that Zaha Hadid has requested a higher budget for her Civil Justice Centre.

A source said Hadid’s office had asked for a “sensible” increase in the budget for the 74,500m2 courthouse building. The scheme’s current cost has not been released.

Alejandro Zaera-Polo, the principal of FOA, told a Spanish newspaper last week that Hadid had been in crisis talks with the backers of the scheme.

These are difficult times, and the scheme in general is on hold

A project source

He said: “Zaha Hadid had meetings in Madrid, but no agreement was reached. Since then, she has not done anything on the project.”

Madrid council is about €1bn (£880m) short of its €1.4bn (£1bn) budget for the City of Justice, according to José Manuel Franco, socialist MP in the Madrid assembly. It hopes to find some of this from the sale of judicial buildings in the city.

Foster + Partners is designing two buildings for the scheme, a High Court and a Supreme Court. Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners is working with its long-time collaborator Vidal Arquitectos on a mixed-use project. Arup is acting as structural engineer on six buildings.

FOA walked off its Institute of Legal Medicine scheme, citing a lack of “necessary resources”.

A spokesperson for Zaha Hadid declined to comment.

City of justice in numbers

Number of buildings: 19
Total area of the site: 300,000m²
Number of entries to original design competition: 345
Original budget for FOA’s Institute of Legal Medicine: €967 (£849) per m²
Budget FOA says should be spent on City of Justice buildings: not less than €1,800 (£1,581) per m²
Budget for entire project: €1.4bn (£1.2bn)
Budgetary shortfall for entire project, according to Spanish MP: €1bn (£878m)