Prospettiva, 2014

 

01.Chris sketch

 

 

In late 2013 I was invited, together with another four artists, to submit a proposal for a work of art to commemorate Valletta’s European Capital of Culture title. The chosen site was Malta’s main bus terminus, which sat under a bastion wall a few metres away from the main entry to the capital.

At the time, Renzo Piano’s City Gate project was nearing completion and for myself and many others, the site of the two robotic arms demolishing the last of Valletta’s gates was an unforgettable moment. In many ways, Valletta’s previous gates were a microcosm of the city’s architectural story: a collection of eras, a summation of times; some sort
 of palimpsest on which layers of architecture paid homage to the stylistic preoccupations & ambitions of the times.

So we imagined a monument that could somehow bring back memories of each one, by some sort of architectural performance engaging in perspective and apparition. We proceeded to research and study all the gates – past and present – drawing, draughting and slowly mutating them into a singular 2D icon; which we subsequently disassembled into different planes and anamorphic projections. The result presented what seemed, at first glance, deconstructed ruins; glimpses from the past; or abstract islands of memory.
 But when one approaches them on foot from City Gate, they slowly converge to tangible form, and the icon appears.

After a short-lived celebration when we won the competition, we were faced with a structural stalemate. Building such thin slabs, some of them over 5 metres high, would be possible only in Serra-like steel – which was out of our budget.

03.edited set_7 04.edited set_1

prospettiva [pro-spet-tì-va], Maltese.
outlook [out-loo k], English.

definition: a person’s point of view or general attitude to life.
synonyms: point of view, viewpoint, views, opinion, (way of) thinking, perspective, attitude, standpoint, stance, frame of mind.

 

Concept DiagramPG1 02a.3D

By some sort of blessing, a few days before the good news, I happened to be walking around the MuCEM in Marseille. Wrapped with the thinnest concrete screen I had ever seen, there I discovered Ductal: the strongest concrete formula on the market whose structural properties were akin to steel. With the help of Kitty O’Grady, a fellow architect and friend from the south of France, we arranged to visit the manufacturers and proceeded to commission them with the production & the engineering of the slabs, which would merely measure 4 centimetres thick at their tips.

Site works proceeded with the casting of a 15-metre-diameter concrete disc, concealing the foundations supporting the cantilevered fins. A few weeks before the monument’s inauguration, the French slabs arrived in Valletta and after long hours of precise setting out to ensure the alignment of viewpoints, Prospettiva was set and inaugurated by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on the 6th October 2014.

Prospettiva, 2014

prospettiva [pro-spet-tì-va], Maltese.
outlook [out-loo k], English.

definition: a person’s point of view or general attitude to life.
synonyms: point of view, viewpoint, views, opinion, (way of) thinking, perspective, attitude, standpoint, stance, frame of mind.

01.Chris sketch

In late 2013 I was invited, together with another four artists, to submit a proposal for a work of art to commemorate Valletta’s European Capital of Culture title. The chosen site was Malta’s main bus terminus, which sat under a bastion wall a few metres away from the main entry to the capital.

At the time, Renzo Piano’s City Gate project was nearing completion and for myself and many others, the site of the two robotic arms demolishing the last of Valletta’s gates was an unforgettable moment. In many ways, Valletta’s previous gates were a microcosm of the city’s architectural story: a collection of eras, a summation of times; some sort
 of palimpsest on which layers of architecture paid homage to the stylistic preoccupations & ambitions of the times.

So we imagined a monument that could somehow bring back memories of each one, by some sort of architectural performance engaging in perspective and apparition. We proceeded to research and study all the gates – past and present – drawing, draughting and slowly mutating them into a singular 2D icon; which we subsequently disassembled into different planes and anamorphic projections. The result presented what seemed, at first glance, deconstructed ruins; glimpses from the past; or abstract islands of memory.
 But when one approaches them on foot from City Gate, they slowly converge to tangible form, and the icon appears.

After a short-lived celebration when we won the competition, we were faced with a structural stalemate. Building such thin slabs, some of them over 5 metres high, would be possible only in Serra-like steel – which was out of our budget.

03.edited set_7 04.edited set_1 Concept DiagramPG1 02a.3D

By some sort of blessing, a few days before the good news, I happened to be walking around the MuCEM in Marseille. Wrapped with the thinnest concrete screen I had ever seen, there I discovered Ductal: the strongest concrete formula on the market whose structural properties were akin to steel. With the help of Kitty O’Grady, a fellow architect and friend from the south of France, we arranged to visit the manufacturers and proceeded to commission them with the production & the engineering of the slabs, which would merely measure 4 centimetres thick at their tips.

Site works proceeded with the casting of a 15-metre-diameter concrete disc, concealing the foundations supporting the cantilevered fins. A few weeks before the monument’s inauguration, the French slabs arrived in Valletta and after long hours of precise setting out to ensure the alignment of viewpoints, Prospettiva was set and inaugurated by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on the 6th October 2014.