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Ħaż-Żebbuġ, MALTA

Design - Alan Galea, Simon Grech, Sam Bonello

Photography - MAS for HOMEWORKS

Originally a candle factory, ‘Candle House’ is a two storey vernacular house having a wide frontage located in the village core and Urban Conservation Area of Żebbuġ, Malta. Throughout its history, the building changed its use and owners several times, however most key features of the house had remained untouched.


After living abroad for several years, the client decided to relocate himself to his childhood village of Żebbuġ, and thus ‘Candle House’ was chosen to be rehomed as a place in which his family, friends and guests can find comfort, peace, happiness, and safety.


The project brief was to enhance the energy of the house with the use of natural and raw materials, whilst respecting the original built fabric. The aim was to create a canvas that would read as a contemporary interpretation of the existing vernacular architecture.


The stone facade and timber apertures were restored with traditional techniques. The lavender-blue front door and traditional antiporta with panels of intricately engraved glass, entice a passerby to peek into the restored property.


The layout is composed of several rooms overlooking a central courtyard and an adequately sized back garden. New architectural interventions were mainly carried out in the active areas of the house, with a complete makeover being executed in the living room, outdoor areas, and study. Within the back-garden an outdoor plunge pool with amenities, raw concrete planters and a raw timber shuttered concrete staircase, with storage for fire logs, were constructed. Together with a fire pit, all these offer different experiences across the changing seasons.


A large opening for a three-metre-high fixed-glass window in the living room was created allowing the living room to bask in the sunlight and visually connect to the activities in the back garden. The living room is highly functional with optimized smart lighting, electric shades, bespoke audiovisual systems, and all-round integrated wi-fi connectivity.


The courtyard is the immediate focal point of the intervention – all rooms on both floors are directly connected to it. In the centre, a sculptural planter with an olive tree was constructed and is the symbolic heart of the house.

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