By definition, a bridge is rather narrow with respect to its length. The current bridge, has, as a result of several successive enlargements, completely lost its original functionality, becoming a hybrid between a piazza and a bridge. In order to reverse this unnatural transformation, the project proposes simply to restore the bridge in its original dimensions of Dingli’s gate of 1633. In so doing, the experience of crossing over from one side to the other will be strongly enhanced and, what’s more, the view to the ditch will at last become possible again.
The first gate of Valletta, which consisted, most probably, of a unique vaulted tunnel cutting through the wall, has undergone many changes, each transformation altering irrevocably the image of the impregnable enceinte of fortifications. The last modification, realized half a century ago, has destroyed the wall for a width of 32m creating, as a result, a complete and unprecedented new condition of blandness at the entrance to the town.
Our new design aims at giving back to the bastion walls their original expression of depth and strength by enhancing the feeling of narrowness while at the same time opening up the view to the perspective of Republic Street. The new gate is a breach, just 8 meters wide, compressing movement during the crossing. The fundamental new element is that the gate has become open to the sky. The street crossing above will be demolished and two large and gently sloped stairs, reminiscent of the dramatic staircases flanking the gate before the creation of Freedom Square, will lead from both St James’ and St John’s Cavaliers down to Republic Street. The fortifications will henceforth appear in their full height and strength from the inside, an image that is currently impossible due to the presence of the arcade and shop fronts on Freedom Square.
Gate and ditch shall be connected through a redesigned stair and an exterior, panoramic elevator that provides the experience of the depth of the ditch and leads to the protected gardens below. Once the unpleasant car park has disappeared to be replaced by a lush and fresh garden atmosphere, harbouring charming and relaxing activities and promenades, visiting the ditch will become an extraordinary experience. Moreover, the planted ditch and can also become the dramatic scenery for spectacular outdoor events and performances.
The architecture of the Gate itself shall express the greatest strength and a certain austerity, bare of superficial and conventional decorations and futile, stylish elements which can never be timeless. It is made of massive stone elements, monumentally shaped and flanked by high, framing blades of steel. The latter will underline the fracture between the past and the present. The gate’s architecture must be simple and strong, steering away of any extravagance. It is the best tribute to genuine intention and authentic construction.