The City awakes

The new Valletta project—all of it—looks great and hurrah for it. If Valletta also becomes the European Capital of Culture in 2018 that will spell more hurrahs for a great city with a real soul.

Anyone who hates the Piano project—City entrance, Parliament, Opera House, the works—should preferably shut up and accept it. I know it isn't too easy for us to stop complaining and giving spurious advice (vide all my blog pieces to prove this truism beyond doubt) about anything anyone does or plans. But do please wait and see the results before you condemn and damn poor Piano to a fate worse than a slow death.

Once the government decided to go ahead with the project saying how bad it is and how it should have been improved was rendered totally useless. The only advice worth hearing right now is how we can clear the entrance of all the stalls—the bread stalls, the pink pasti stalls and the kiosks as well as the mobile telephony pests. The rest is planned and the deal is done.

Time will tell if most of today's critics will realise it was, after all, a design worth praising by an acclaimed architect.

Even if the actual design or project is horrid at least, and at last, something has been done about the Opera House. For over half a century we kept discussing, organising silly competitions and never moving on. And in the meantime we had left a scar in the heart of Valletta to fester on. Finally we have moved on.

To the traditionalists who wanted to see the Opera House rebuilt to its former glory: it was hardly ever glorious and was totally out of place in Valletta. I know nothing about architecture so all architectural gurus might now damn me but that building was always incongruous and wrong. To then take another step and rebuild it as it was would have been a total disaster. It would have been an admission that we haven't moved on from our traditional and passé style. And it would have meant that our architecture just cannot create anything new.

With the Valletta project we—yes we, the people, not just Gonzi—have made a statement which hopefully will last and be a lasting bequest from our times. Some endorse and enjoy the statement, many fear it and a few are vociferously against it. The 60s Gate has thankfully been demolished. Will we have to demolish Piano's endeavours in 20 years' time? I doubt it

It took great courage on the Prime Minister's part to do what he did. Hold on before you pelt me with slurs that I am a Gonzi apologist. Maybe the man has dreams of displaced grandeur, maybe he wants to be remembered as Malta's sun king and maybe he is hard-headed —but he went ahead and did what he was sure would be a great project which will turn Valletta into a real culture capital. History teaches us that such grandiose pig-headedness sometimes results in huge disasters and eternal egg on the perpetrator's face.

But sometimes it also proves great vision and adds to the nation's legacy and beauty.

This is what I am sure will happen in the Valletta project case. And all the moaners, grumblers and boring traditionalists will then—hopefully—definitely belt up.


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