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Jan 25, 2019,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

Malta: Futuristic museum proposed on site of Azure Window rock formation

The Maltese island of Gozo was long famous for its Azure Window, a natural arch similar to the Elephant Rock in Etretat, northern France. A popular tourist attraction, it collapsed into the Mediterranean during a violent storm in March 2017. In seeking to bring the rock formation back to life, a Russian design group has come up with a design for a futuristic museum at the site. The proposed building, which would be covered with reflective steel panels, has attracted criticism, however. 

Hotei Russia, a Russian architectural design group founded by Svetozar Andreev, has revealed plans to replace one of nature’s lost wonders with a feat of architectural engineering. Going by the name of the Heart of Malta, the project involves the construction of a futuristic museum on the site where the famous Azure Window once stood, as reported by French real estate publication Le Figaro Immobilier.

The arch-shaped rock formation, an iconic landmark on the Maltese island of Gozo and a popular site with tourists, collapsed into the sea during a storm in 2017, having been weakened by erosion.

A steel shell

Comprising five floors and a total exhibition area of 5,000m², Andreev’s museum will be entirely covered in mirror-effect steel panels reflecting both the sea and the sky. 

The shape and size of the building will be exactly the same as those of the limestone arch. The aim of the project’s promoters is to create a new tourist attraction in Dwejra Bay. The museum will also house exhibitions on Malta’s rich history. 

Ambitious but controversial

While Andreev describes the project as “a perfect monument symbolising the fusion of modernity and nature, and time and history, and reflecting the tenacity of the human spirit”, others are more sceptical of this challenge to nature, arguing that it poses a threat to the environment. 

Those fears are unfounded in the opinion of the Russian architect, who argues that his project actually reflects nature and forms an integral part of it. “The bastions and megaliths of Valetta are themselves a challenge to nature,” he said.

Responding to fears that the building’s materials would be prone to corrosion and ageing, Andreev added that the team would have access to cutting-edge technologies used principally in boatbuilding.

Allianz Partners

Cover photo credits: foursummers/Pixabay

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