Any modifications to the new Parliament project would be very expensive as costs would spiral, Chris Paris, CEO of the Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation that is overseeing the construction of the building told the House Business Committee this evening.

He said that the project was at an advanced and critical stage.

As he walked the committee members through the design, architect Antonio Belvedere from Renzo Piano's office said that the brief was dictated by the site.

He said that to respect the heritage element, seeing that Valletta was a Unesco site, an element of functionality was sacrificed and flexibility was, instead, maximised. Respect to the site was given priority.

The architects were careful to create a functional building which did not conceal the fortifications. The main concept was to have a building that looked as if it was floating with the biggest part of the ground floor dedicated to cultural space.

"When you do a project here, whatever it is, you have a world heritage site… There are two ways to go about it. You either ignore the site and make the most of the function, or you respect the lines dictated by the heritage elements and have a smaller site,” he said.

Labour MP Deborah Schembri asked Mr Belvedere if he had just been asked to deliver a Parliament or if he was told how many rooms and offices to fit in.

He answered that an office for each MP would "clearly not" fit.

Earlier, Mr Belvedere had said that the building included 16 offices for ministers and four committee rooms.

The building did not include a library since this "was never a requirement". However, there was archive space at tunnel level that could be used as a library.

Mr Paris explained that the number of committee rooms was calculated according to the brief worked out between the Government and Mr Piano, apart from the input of the Speaker and parliamentary staff.

Asked if the Opposition of the day had given its input, Mr Paris referred to the lengthy consultation process that had included all stakeholders.

Asked about parking, Mr Paris said that although this was originally planned at basement level it was not possible due to archaeological restraints. So, instead, the parking area near the Central Bank would be dedicated to MPs.


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