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City Gate

In 2008 the Studio Renzo Piano Building Workshop began the “Valletta City Gate” project that has completely  regenerated the entrance to the old town of the Maltese capital of Valletta. The complex consists of the new Maltese  Parliament buildings, the regeneration of the ruins of the former Royal Opera House and the new Valletta City Gate.  This architectural and urban redevelopment project is located just inside the sixteenth century city walls in a very  important area of the Maltese capital, which is already a Unesco World Heritage Site.  The complexity of the project - expertly coordinated by the Renzo Piano studio - lies in its series of different levels that  have led to the area being completely redefined.  The project's common denominator is its innovative use of a local Maltese limestone with a warm yellow hue and a range  of qualities that are used in different ways according to the structure in question.

The building, in fact, alternates solid,  decoration-free surfaces with a structural function and surfaces characterised by complex, meticulously sculpted forms  that come together to create a satisfying overall texture. This approach has revolutionised the concept of exterior  decoration as it features an active wall that integrates brise-soleil elements designed to exploit the angles of the sun's  rays. The original texture of the facades increases the building's climate control performance while also fulfilling the  RPBW studio's design concept of shaping a pure, decoration-free, timeless mass that looks as if it has been eroded by  the wind. The lighting project developed by the French Lighting Designer, Frank Franjou, together with the RPBW studio highlights  the area's architectural design with its range of elevations and different textures.  Frank Franjou's main requests with regard to the lighting system focused on finding a design that offered both minimum  impact and a high level of adaptability.  The site's outdoor lighting, then, is specifically designed to emphasize the volumes and different levels of the buildings  and highlight the openings and walkways that connect the moat, city walls, Parliament buildings and Opera House. 

Ground-recessed Linealuce luminaires were selected for this task thanks to their compact, linear design and wallwasher  optic that projects a grazing light on the walls while also creating a constant rhythm around the site perimeter.  The entrance area of the new Parliament building consists of two massive stone volumes balanced on slender columns  that are set back to give the building a sense of lightness. The functional lighting system, here, consists of a network of  MaxiWoody LED luminaires with a specially designed asymmetric optic that creates a subtle, even light across the entire  floor surface.  The textures of the facades, on the other hand, are lit from the rear, instead of with projected light, as this accentuates  the honeycomb texture of the brise-soleil elements and creates a highly attractive interplay of light and shadow.  As far as the new Parliament building is concerned, the details of the lighting solutions have been developed in close  collaboration with the RPBW studio, by adapting and modifying standard iGuzzini products to the needs of the location. 

Given that the spaces and environments are so clearly defined, a highly functional lighting system was designed in  compliance with standard lighting requirements for work environments (Standard: UNI EN 12464). This features an  extruded aluminium system that runs through the false ceilings of the various environments in the building, enabling IN30  luminaires with a microprism screen to be installed for the general lighting in the common areas and Le Perroquet and  Primo Piano spotlights for the accent lighting.  The flexibility of the lighting project can also be seen in the main Chamber of Parliament where the space is lit directly  and indirectly by a range of Le Perroquet LED pendant, wall and track-mounted luminaires. Thanks to its original, light  design, this product was an ideal choice, especially as it enhances the symmetry and architectural rhythm of the room. 


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  • Year
  • Client
    Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation plc
  • Architectural project:
    Renzo Piano Building Workshop in collaboration with Architecture Project (La Valletta)
  • Lighting project:
    Frank Franjou
  • Photographer
    Michel Denancé and Mario Carrieri cortesy of RPBW

Project Quote

"We don't want to make a monumental Parliament... this is not the spirit. It's about welcoming people; about having spaces that are not hermetic, inaccessible. Culture places make the city a great city, because this is where the city become a urban place and urbanity is a beautiful word, urbanity, just not belong to the city, but it’s also the way to be civilized."

Renzo Piano, from

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