Renzo Piano’s office disagrees with proposed ‘four Knights’ for Valletta entrance

The office of the Italian architect opposes to any structures impinging on Piano’s City Gate design. 

The office of Renzo Piano disagrees with any proposed structures which would embellish its City Gate designs, MaltaToday has learnt.

Asked for a reaction to the proposed Knights of Malta bas-relief at the Valletta entrance, the office replied that the Valletta entrance is “too prominent a location for any kind of sculpture”.

Commissioned by the Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation and designed by John Grima, the plans suggest a ‘traditional’ sculpture that jars with the clean, minimalist look of the refurbished City Gate, depicting a quartet of Knights sculpted in bronze, in a pose that suggests they’re locked and ready for battle.

The project was originally slated to be installed near St Catherine of Italy Church overlooking Piazza De Vallette on 26 March, but on 12 August it was moved to Republic Street, in the same position where Camilleri’s sculpture now stands.

The project is currently pending approval.

Speaking to MaltaToday, Antionio Belvedere of the Renzo Piano Building Workshop said that they had been consulted on this issue by the Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation some time ago, but that they believe the entrance should be kept pristine.

 “It is not at all a matter of style and  aesthetic of the sculpture, even less a matter of cohesiveness with our design. It is just a matter of magnitude of the events,” Belvedere, who is a partner in City Gate Project, added.

Belvedere believes that the entrance to Valletta already contains within it a strong enough ‘narrative’ which does not require further embellishment to achieve its impact.

Describing it as leading to a “sequence of powerful experiences”, Belvedere said it marks the “commencement of the Valletta experience”.

“Cross the Ditch by walking on the re-exposed original bridge built by the Knights, cross and feel the fortifications in all its depth, once inside, stand on Republic Street, see both St James and St John’s Cavalier, observe and read the rational city structure… This is the commencement of the Valletta experience. A great story is already sculpted in this experience made out of stone.”

Noting that Valletta is already “full of places capable of telling thousands of stories”, Belvedere suggested that an alternative place could be found for this – or any other – sculpture in the city, since ideally the entrance should be kept as a place “to be shared, not to be occupied by this or that sculpture”.

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