MODEL Office
Marsa, MALTA

Design - Simon Grech, Alan Galea

Photography - Alex Attard

Architecture studio MODEL has created its own workshop inside a former carpenter’s warehouse in Marsa, designing an open-plan office which draws inspiration from the true essence of Maltese vernacular architecture. 

The original building started its life as a farmhouse over 50 years ago housing chickens, rabbits, and horses. It was later used as a carpenter’s workshop for 2 decades before its abandonment in 2016. The most recent conversion sees the building being used as an Architect’s workshop. The architects recognize the importance of the town of Marsa within the wider context of the Grand Harbor and feel that an Architect’s workshop sets a good example towards its positive regeneration.

The design focused on preserving the structure’s historic elements and its original fabric whilst repurposing some of the more recent additions to breathe life back into derelict areas of the property. Some of the more recent additions were sensitively removed to re-use the same stone to re-build original walls. Apart from minor interventions to pass services, the original concrete floors in the main workshop and original stable area were preserved, polished and kept intact with all the blemishes and horse hoof markings as a tribute to the past energy in the building. Pieces of machinery left behind by the carpenter were re-interpreted and given an extended life as pieces of functional furniture throughout the workshop.

The entrance to the workshop is characterized by a long entrance corridor which displays model’s and other material of past, present, and future projects, giving insight to the creative process of the work that goes on in the workshop.

One continuous central table sits in the workshop where members of staff all sit together to reflect the company's un-hierarchical nature. Light floods in through the original door and window openings and reflects off the now white-washed walls to give the space a pure and clear atmosphere. This space houses the main working room where the energy of light and space allow for clarity and creativity during the design process and the formation of ideas. This room leads to a smaller office, kitchen and eventually the brainstorming and meeting room, and all rooms lead directly on to the Mediterranean garden with young citrus trees bearing fruit for everyone to enjoy. The garden acts as the lung of this workshop, breathing fresh air and natural light into all rooms and blurs the threshold between internal and external spaces.

The building is more than just an office with its creative history lingering on in its everyday activities. The most interesting thing about this project is perhaps not how it is designed but how it reflects the integration of a new use feeding off the memory of its past.