Program - Residential Interior Design
Location - Valletta, Malta
Year completed - 2017
Photographer - Luca Noto
AN EARLY 19TH CENTURY PIED-A-TERRE IN THE CENTRE OF THE BAROQUE CAPITAL CITY OF MALTA, VALLETTA. THE RENOVATION PROCESS WAS THOUGHT OF THOROUGHLY SO AS TO RENOVATE THE SPACE TO MODERN STANDARDS WHILST RETAINING THOSE CHARACTERISTICS THAT DEFINE THE SPACE; THE VINTAGE PATTERNED MALTESE CEMENT TILES, THE WOODEN APERTURES, HIGH CEILINGS WITH WOODEN & STEEL BEAMS AND THE ROUGH & UNEVEN TEXTURE OF OLD THICK LIMESTONE WALLS.
When we first visited this vacant property it was deprived of life with a very much abandoned feeling. The services dated back to the early 1900's, with network cables of Malta's first broadcasting company, Rediffusion Malta, British standard round 3 pin power plugs and complementing sockets. The bathroom had its walls covered with a small format white and purple patterned ceramic tiles, an old cast iron bathtub, Victorian style sanitary ware and services with old rusty iron water pipes and mixers no longer in a good state of use. The walls of the apartment were covered in multiple layers of cracked and peeling paint with each layer uncovering a new color that was applied through time. There was a mix of Maltese cement floor tiles with the majority having an interesting vintage patterned style in an aged black, white and Merlot red colour, which made the modifications done to this property throughout the passage of time even more evident. The apartment had a typical compromised layout in which one would need to pass through one room to get to the other, with one particular narrow and deep room at the far end of the property in total pitch darkness.
The design intent and process>
Unlike most of the renovations being done in the city at the time, this apartment was designed as the primary residence of a young couple who decided to indulge themselves in the heart of a culturally rich and increasingly vibrant city. With the city being a perfect hub to live and work in, the design of the apartment revolved around the 'casa bottega' way of living. Therefore, the space was reconfigured to allow for a common entrance hall which serves to access the living and working spaces independently. The more recent looking floor tiles were removed and replaced with a monolithic micro cement floor which extends into the new bathroom floor and walls. A stark white kitchen with 'Bianco Carrara' surfaces was positioned in the narrow and dark space which through a structural intervention was opened up and joined to the adjacent room to form an open plan kitchen, living and dining space. The steel beams were kept exposed and painted in white keeping all structures a clear and true statement of their time. With this intent in mind no ceilings or walls were covered up, keeping all the roughness, uneven and aged textures of embedded steel beams, limestone slabs 'Xorok', old wooden beams and thick irregular walls exposed. Whilst all the services were changed to modern standards, the spirit of the vintage floor tiles, the internal doors, and the large Maltese balcony were retained and restored.