In the lower part of Valletta, many regeneration projects have been initiated with the aim of contributing to the lasting legacy once Valletta is named the European Capital of Culture next year. Meanwhile, a Maltese architect has told TVM that the regeneration can be brought even more to life if a 300 metre pedestrian bridge is built between Valletta and the Sliema, at a cost of around eight million Euro.
Dr Konrad Xuereb told TVM that the bridge with its innovative design will not jar with the character of the capital city as a World Heritage Site, and will help in the economic and social regeneration of the lower part of Valletta.
Dr Xuereb, an architect and structural engineer, believes that for Valletta to continue enjoying, in the long-term, the considerable social and economic regeneration which it is going through now, it requires large projects of connectivity such as the pedestrian bridge he is proposing.
“There is an opportunity, in my opinion, for a bridge between Tignè Point and the gunpost in Valletta, which is a distance of arond 300 metres. There is a similar example in London, where the Millennium Bridge joins St Paul’s Cathedral which is a World Heritage Site with Southwark, where there is the Tate Modern museum,” said Dr Xuereb.
Dr Xuereb, who has an office in London where he has been working on similar projects in Hull and Yorkshire for the last 16 years, said that the bridge he is proposing should be high enough for boats to pass under, and should leave great benefits.
“We are speaking about eight or seven million Euro, but one can also turn this question around and ask whether this long-term investment is worth it: it will mean less pollution, less people using their cars and the long-term benefit for Valletta which will feel more connected to places in Sliema,” he explained.
Asked about the visual impact of the bridge, Dr Xuereb said that there are various innovative designs possible to ensure that there is the least amount of impact on the appearance of the area, as happened with Castleford bridge which is 130 meetres long.
“It was important to consider the aesthetic factor so that it would not be intrusive, so we came up with a very thin structure, and to compensate for this, we created more structure at the top and created benches,” said Dr Xuereb.
In a comment to Television Malta, the Executive Director of the Valletta Foundation 2018, Catherine Tabone, said that the project of the Valletta Design Cluster which will take the place of the old slaughterhouse, is one of the main projects of V18 for lower Valletta.
“The location will be a space allocated to up and coming artists who work in the design sector and who therefore do not have the necessary capital to operate from their own space. We are therefore allocating this location to them to operate from,” Ms Tabone explained.
Ms Tabone said that, apart from this project, lower Valletta is undergoing considerable restoration work on its churches and old buildings. An art project known as “inside out” is also underway, which is intended for Valletta residents so that in a creative way they can help tourists and other Maltese people relate to the capital city and appreaciate the social and cultural network of living in Valleta.