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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