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Chamber of Architects backs Piano return to City Gate project

The Chamber of Architects (Kamra tal-Periti) said today that it commends and supports the government’s decision to proceed with the City Gate project and the choice of Renzo Piano as architect. It also urged the government to consider the status of the Guidelines for the Regeneration of Valletta drawn up by Mr Piano himself in his previous commission.

The Chamber said that in normal circumstances it would have insisted that the design for this project be the subject of an international competition. However this was no normal situation.

"Indeed, the government‘s decision to re-initiate the project has brought about the unexpected opportunity, 20 years later, to renew its commitment to an architect whose commission was suspended once the project was shelved. After more than forty years, the community has the right to expect a fitting completion to the gateway to our capital city."

The chamber said that Mr Piano had, throughout his career, built up experiences that were relevant to this commission. He had developed a reputation for being a master of the art of listening and was an excellent communicator of both process and intention.

"The decision here is not one about whether the selected architect should be Maltese or foreign. On the other hand, this is about the search for that gesture that could leave a tangible and lasting impact on the quality of our built environment and to serve the aspirations of our nation. It also needs the contribution of the best in the world to challenge local talent and be a source of inspiration for the students of architecture who will continue to build the future of Malta.

The Chamber said there were several other challenges ahead, in particular the urban issues for what was now an extended scope and site area and the intended use, presumably the subject of a Development Brief that had yet to be prepared. Furthermore, the need for structured public participation in the design process was evident.

It reiterated its call for the establishment of a Design Review Commission, an internationally recognised practice, particularly within the European Union, providing a concerted effort at ensuring the highest design quality of public projects.

"The Chamber believes that this project presents an excellent opportunity to catalyse the setting up of this Commission."

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