The Times of Malta has reported that Renzo Piano will be back in Malta this month to revive an €80 million project to rebuild the City Gate and Royal Opera House ruins in Valletta, the capital city. The visit marks the second time Piano will attempt to get the project built - the architect was initially hired for the job in 1986. But the project died on the vine four years hence after preliminary designs calling for a new city gate to replace the old one, were met with criticism and public resistance.
The ambitious project aims to regenerate Valletta and provide this UNESCO World Heritage Site with a fitting gateway. Although the condition of Valetta has been described as “squalid, with its storied history and 320 monuments packed into a small area, the city has the potential to become a formidable tourist draw. Supporters of the project say such a treasure deserves a fitting entrance. But dissenters contend the project will squander precious public funds, while destroying the city’s historic character in the process. Considering that the project has been on again and off again for more than sixty years now, Piano will have to work his magic with the Maltese or pray for a miracle.
In addition to providing a new gate to the city, Piano will design a new building on the Opera House ruins that will house Parliament. Currently, parliament is housed in the country’s palace. When the new building is completed, the palace will be freed up to become a cultural center with a cultural heritage museum.