Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Renzo Piano back to Valletta

The project for Valletta designed by Renzo Piano made no headway 20 years ago. Is there a possibility that Malta will this time allow the architect of Berlin's Potsdamer Platz and the Centre Georges Pompidou to put his stamp on our city, to put Valletta back on the international map?

Annaliza Borg reports for The Malta Independent:

Italian architect Renzo Piano is to redesign plans for the Royal Opera House building, with the part on the side of Republic Street to become a centre of cultural and historic value. The other area is to host the House of Representatives.

The idea of building an underground car park underneath Freedom Square, which was being considered for some time, was totally abolished as was the idea of developing an underground bus terminus. The bus terminus will be included in Piano’s plans for City Gate but a much smaller terminus for no more than 20 buses at one time will be designed. This would be part of the public transport reform by which the government is proposing some four or five bus termini around Malta rather than one main terminus, among other changes.

The projects will be financed by public funds, since no commercial centres are to be included at City Gate, thus a public-private partnership could not work out. Existing shops at City Gate are to be relocated to other areas. The government could also not obtain EU funds to finance the projects, Dr Gonzi said, since plans were not being drawn up on commercial lines but aimed at giving Valletta its original concept of a city at the centre of the Mediterranean. However, EU funds could be used for the regeneration of Fort St Elmo, Marsamxetto and the Grand Harbour.

While the government is focusing on City Gate and the Royal Opera House site, the Prime Minister pointed out that Fort St Elmo too should be restored. The government is proposing that Fort St Elmo becomes a “centre of culture and art,” part of which is to be used in connection with the cruise liner business. Dr Gonzi also put forward the government’s idea to start work on Fort St Elmo while the City Gate and Royal Opera House projects are in progress.

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