The spectacular Azure Window rock arch on Malta’s island of Gozo was once a Mediterranean must-see sunset spot that formed the backdrop to scenes in “Game of Thrones.”
Sadly, because of natural erosion, the structure collapsed during strong winds, back in March 2017.
Now an innovative new design by Russian architect Svetozar Andreev seeks to conceptualize a new arch for the future.
Andreev, the head of architectural firm Hotei Russia, has designed “the Heart of Malta,” a re-imagining of the original archway, made from mirrored steel faces.
“It will be a perfect monument and symbol of the fusion of modernity and nature, of time and history, and a testament to the tenacity of the human spirit,” says Andreev of his grand vision.
The new landmark wouldn’t be an exact copy – thanks to the steel material, there’s no attempt to make it look natural.
Rather, Andreev describes the man-made concept as a “a memorial” to the original structure.
He envisages the edifice with an explorable interior as well as exterior space – think five floors of exhibition space, with each level dedicated to a different epoch of Maltese history, all connected by a spiral staircase.
Since the original archway subsided, the Azure Window has been much missed.
“I consider myself lucky to be alive during its time on Earth,” local business owner Philip Spiteri, told CNN Travel May 2017, just after its collapse. “It was a rare natural wonder created by nature and nature took it.”
Andreev says his proposed redesign has been received favorably in Malta, citing an online poll on a local website.
“According to an online poll being conducted by Malta Today, 68% responded in favor the Heart of Malta Project,” he says. “For us, the fact that response is a true sign of the project’s value.”
Not everyone is convinced. In an opinion piece for The Times of Malta, Sandro Spiteri said the Heart of Malta would be “an obscenity filled with the greedy gawking at the ridiculous.”
The government had earlier rejected a proposal of a hotel near the site, but has said its open to other suggestions of ways of memorialize the Azure Window.
Andreev and his team are keen to stress their structure wouldn’t damage the natural cliffside.
“I love Malta very much, and I understand that nature is one of the archipelago’s most important treasures,” he says.
The team apparently plans to use techniques similar to those used in shipbuilding, building a stable platform beneath the cliff to place the structure on.
Currently it’s just a proposal but it’s definitely an innovative way of attempting to assuage the inevitability of nature.