From restoring townhouses to designing new public gardens, Malta’s architects and interior designers carried out some pretty impressive work last year.
And the fruits of their labour were recognised and rewarded during last weekend’s Malta Architecture and Spatial Planning Awards, organised by the Planning Authority under the patronage of President George Vella. While construction gets a fair bit of flak on the islands, this is what skilful architects and designers are capable of doing when they put their minds and hearts into it.
And here are the award winners:
1. Award for Restoration and Conservation: MODEL
Architecture firm MODEL won this award for their restoration of Aster House, a Sliema townhouse built in the first half of the 20th century in the Art Nouveau style. It was a sensitive bit of work, with the architects making it a point to retain the townhouse’s original and historic elements and only intervening minimally, such as through the introduction of a central skylight.
Many terraced houses in Sliema have been knocked down and replaced by apartment blocks over the years but, thanks to MODEL’s intervention, Aster House has survived.
2. Urban Design Award: Studjurban
The prize for the best urban design of the year went to Studjurban for a mixed-use project in Mosta which combines a child-care facility at ground floor level with residential apartments. The architects used travertine cladding for the external façade and white plastered walls at ground floor level, and the end result doesn’t look half bad at all.
3. Public Open Spaces Award: Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation
Adding your own touch to a central part of a capital city is no mean feat but the Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation (GHRC), in collaboration with the Restoration Directorate, did just that when designing Ġnien Laperelli, the garden in the ditch below the entrance to Valletta.
Utilising both hard and soft landscaping, this new garden greets everyone who stares down while walking in and out of Malta’s capital and is the winner of this year’s open spaces award.
4. Commercial Buildings Award: Bezzina & Cole
The commercial building of the year award went to Bezzina & Cole, the architects behind the Crane Currency building in Ħal Far.
With its distinctive circular entrance extending into a linear form, this currency printing press doesn’t only fulfil its operational function but is also pleasing to the eye, particularly in a landscape dominated by factories.
5. Interior Architecture Award for Residential Projects: Forward Architects
Forward Architects clinched this award for their design of a family villa in Birguma, a sophisticated and beautiful home designed in a manner to let natural light flow through the building.
6. Interior Architecture Award for Commercial Projects: Perit Kenneth Zammit Endrich and Perit Samuel Cassar
Zammit Endrich and Cassar won this one for their work on Vinaccia, a former house of character which has been converted into a lovely Italian restaurant.
The architects maintained the rustic elements of the building but added their own flair in the form of corten-steel material, creating a blend between old and new.
7. Urban Planning Concept Award: X,Y,Z Architects and Design
The prize for the best urban plan on paper went to the firm behind the proposed Cospicua Social Regeneration Project and it’s not difficult to see why. The project redefines social housing as we know it, with visually pleasing apartment blocks and open spaces for residents to unwind.
8. Hospitality Tourism Accommodation and Leisure Award: Forward Architects
Forward Architects picked up their second prize of the night for their design of Rosselli, Valletta’s first five-star boutique hotel.
Built in a former 17th century palazzo, Rosselli merges Renaissance and early Baroque styles with a touch of contemporary flair, serving up a true treat for tourists wishing to stay in the heart of the capital.
9. Sustainability Award: MODEL
Remember that restoration of a Sliema townhouse? Turns out it was such an impressive piece of architectural work that the firm behind it won a second award for it, this time for sustainability.
10. Emerging Architect Award: Atelier Maison
The prize for best up-and-coming architectural firm on the block went to Atelier Maison, particularly for their design of The Sacred Auditorium in Blata l-Bajda, which is not only quite stunning but also replete with symbols.
The architects clearly put a lot of thought into this project and it deserves to be rewarded.
11. President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement for Services Related to Architecture and Spatial Planning: Dr Godwin Cassar
Finally, this year’s awards included a new category to commemorate a person who made an outstanding contribution to Maltese architecture and spatial planning. That person was veteran Dr Godwin Cassar, the man who helped set up the Planning Authority itself back in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
He also spearheaded the drafting of a comprehensive Structure Plan for Malta, Local Plans and several urban development and regeneration briefs. Now, after several years of architectural contribution, he has received an award from the organisation he helped found.
What do you make of this year’s award winners?