The Triton Fountain at City Gate, which has been in a poor state for many months, will be restored in time for 2018 when Valletta becomes European Capital City of Culture.
A two-year restoration €500,000 project is set to begin in summer, an Infrastructure Ministry spokeswoman told The Sunday Times of Malta.
The spokeswoman said the project would involve repairs of the three bronze triton statues, the cleansing of the travertine cladding, as well as the upgrading of the mechanical and electrical infrastructure with new energy efficient light fittings.
Though admired by many, the fountain was notorious for its green murky water, which many times posed a health hazard for the public. In view of this the project will include a new water filtration system and the enlargement of the pump room underneath it.
The works are being handled by a multi-disciplinary team led by architect Mireille Fsadni, from the Rehabilitation Projects Office within the Infrastructure Ministry, the spokeswoman said.
“This team has studied the deterioration mechanisms active on the fountain in more detail to determine the best course of action suitable, and the tender documentation is currently being prepared,” she added.
The restoration is the subject of a Mepa permit approved in February 2013, which includes a Restoration Method Statement outlining the works required.
The proposal included the dismantling of the statues and the basin, in order to be treated at a metal foundry, where they would be repainted in the original olive green colour.
Existing water fittings would be replaced by plastic ones, to prevent corrosion whereas the basin would be replaced by an exact replica, due to the irreversible damage caused in the past.
Structural works would be also carried out to strengthen the concrete structure supporting the fountain.
Designed by renowned sculptor Vincent Apap, the fountain was unofficially inaugurated on Saturday May 16, 1959, at a cost of €175,000. Victor Anastasi was responsible for the technical layout and engineering works.
Two decades later, in December 1976, it suffered extensive damage when a talent show was staged on top of the basin to commemorate the second
The basin subsequently collapsed and had to be removed while parts of the statues were permanently damaged. At the time repairs were estimated to cost about €23,300.
The fountain became an eye-sore and was left abandoned until 1986, when a central bronze pillar was added to the structure to withstand the weight of the basin which was fitted back.
In 2011, a controversial proposal to relocate the fountain closer to City Gate as part of the Renzo Piano embellishment project for the entrance of Valletta had to be shelved. Apart from the exorbitant cost estimated to be in the region of €2 million, public opinion was against this idea while experts had raised concerns that the relocation would damage the ageing structure.