Malta’s Grand Harbour served during the nineteenth Century as a British naval base in the Mediterranean. To improve its already magnificent natural conditions, in 1903 they began building a two arms breakwater that would protect it from the strong north and northeast winds that are common during winter months.
The arm of Fort St. Elmo (378-m) was constructed independent from the coast of Valletta to avoid water stagnation and allow the passage of small vessels. It was made accessible via a steel footbridge with two spans of 34.4 m, erected in 1906.
This gateway formed by two isostatic Pratt lattices of curved top chord supported by a central pier, was partially destroyed by the attack from a ship in 1941 during World War II, so it was dismantled shortly after, leaving the breakwater and lighthouse isolated from the coast up today.
The Arenas & Asociados proposal, winner of the competition, was an asymmetric footbridge with a Pratt Truss as the main structural element, with a span/rise relation similar than the original footbridge. This truss, aligned with the existing outer protection walls in direct contact with the sea, supports the deck through cantilevers, creating a unique balcony to the Valleta’s Grand Harbor. The variable depth of the ribs allows the separation of the deck to the existing pier, but creating a “false” feeling of support. The projected footbridge answers the strict economic conditionings (2.5M€), fulfilling the formal requirements, and giving a contemporary solution to the problem, but also respecting the history of the location. This footbridge is a step to the future, creating not only a bridge, but also a viewpoint for all the citizens.