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House 51
Sliema, MALTA

Design - Simon Grech, Alan Galea, Elisa Camilleri, Dawn Fearne, Andrea Zerafa

Photography - Alex Attard

Sliema is a town that is undergoing rapid development and change. This comes with its positives and negatives with the challenge for the co-existence between old and new being especially evident. This project is the vision of a young family of 4 looking for a private garden in the cosmopolitan seaside town. They decided to embark on an ambitious project to extend and remodel a typical Maltese townhouse located within the Urban Conservation Area of Sliema by upgrading and extending the spaces to make them better suited to contemporary living.


This townhouse has a very deep and narrow garden with a change in level separated by a rubble wall. The challenge was to use this context and conceptualize a design that would strongly and harmoniously connect the interior to nature and use the existing topography to create a sense of space and enhanced living experience. The Architect’s approach was to use the rubble wall as the transition point to create two distinct external spaces, each with their own energy and serving their own purpose. The internal courtyard provides natural light and ventilation as well as an external space to the kitchen and dining area and a back garden gives natural light and ventilation to the new pavilion which is born out of and extends from the rubble wall.


The Pavilion gracefully floats above the pool which flows through the entire length of the garden creating a strong and playful connection between the two levels. The roof of the pavilion is designed to hold a large planter acting as an extension of the garden and provides a third external space allowing for further connectivity to nature whilst giving the family privacy from the busy surroundings. A sculptural spiral staircase skewers the pavilion to create vertical access to the new level.


The house was also extended vertically, setback from the facade and connected through a lightweight timber and glass staircase with circular skylights integrated in the top-most roof to naturally illuminate the stair core.


In general, the contrast between openness and intimacy is reflected in the choice of materials, where each interior space is paired with its own landscape moment, allowing architecture and nature to flow into each other. Throughout the home, earthy materials, neutral colours and unfussy decor create a feeling of calm. Generous windows bring in soft daylight that adds to the serene atmosphere.


The extensions, with particular focus on the pavilion, were constructed as a modern house that allows nature to speak first and the design lovingly welcomes guests to experience the same sense of wonder that first drew the family to this urban setting.

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