Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Details from the plan

At the request of Geraldine Holland, one of my trusted followers, I have posted some images showing details of the plan below. The images are chosen and ordered to convey a journey along the promenade.

In the image above the promenade is hot, without shade, to draw the stroller on...

Above it is divided into 3 paths; at the top the stroller walks by the street, completely cut off from the sea and the Freeport - protected from views and shaded from the sun. In the middle a platform looks out to the view - with information on the Freeport and its relationship to the rest of the World. Below at sea level are the existing salt-pans, the limestone coast and a long pier.

Above, the division continues... In the middle is a space that is cut off from views, it looks inwards towards itself - whilst the spaces above and below look out - to the street and the sea.

The journey culminates at the large stage, which rises out of the landscape and faces the Freeport, then stepping down towards it in the salt-pan inspired landscape.

And finally a swimming pool - I think this will have to move due to the Freeport extension...

Friday, April 9, 2010

In search of Maltese Architecture - A Call To Action!

Myriad underground spaces scattered all over the Maltese islands speak of a heritage in which space is not defined by enclosing it, but by painstakingly carving it out of rock. Old farmhouses reveal a multitude of inventive methods for crafting limestone to suit numerous needs. Balconies and layered front doors tell of our Arabic legacy and a complex relationship between public and private. Valletta educates on the art of city planning and Mdina on the expertly composed meander.
With such a rich and varied architectural heritage from which to learn and be inspired, and such a unique culture to express and to build spaces for, Maltese architecture could aspire to be more. Yet so little of our contemporary architecture seems comparable to that built throughout our eventful history. 
Discussions on architecture in Malta tellingly tend to follow two patterns; reminiscences on the island’s pre-building boom beauty, on our wonderful architectural heritage and the importance of conservation, or cynical rants on the contemporary, mixed with a resigned acceptance of it as an inevitable consequence of progression and a reflection of the times.

And so a conspicuous, notional divide exists between our pre-colonial and postcolonial architecture. Perhaps this is a natural symptom of a long history of colonisers applying their vision of Malta, one
on top of the other, like a layered drawing, upon our little island.

But what can we do with the metaphoric top layer? Conserve and give value to our heritage – ideally this is taken for granted. But simultaneously be inventive and ambitious, create opportunities, outside of the private sector, to develop an architectural language that has grown from this unique heritage, and is our own, and not more of the nondescript construction that exists all over the Mediterranean.