The Malta Independent 16 July 2019, Tuesday

Valletta Design Cluster: community-oriented spaces in Valletta

Wednesday, 15 May 2019, 17:02 Last update: about 3 months ago

Updates on the ongoing works at the Valletta Design Cluster (VDC), a Valletta 2018 legacy project and a first-of-its-kind initiative in Malta which will have space dedicated to NGOs and individuals working in the cultural and creative sector based in Malta, were given today by Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici, Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds and Social Dialogue Aaron Farrugia and Valletta Cultural Agency Chairman Jason Micallef.

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This project will cost €9.3 million, and is partially funded by European funds.

Minister Bonnici stated that, “the VDC was conceived to improve the urban environment for Valletta residents and to serve as an empowerment platform for Malta’s burgeoning cultural and creative operators. This project serves as another prime example of the importance culture and the arts hold, and how this Government is striving to making this ever-growing sector more accessible to all.”

Apart from having spaces dedicated to the community and NGOs, the Valletta Design Cluster (VDC), situated at the Old Abattoir site, will also have an innovative green roof in the capital city, which will be open to both residents and visitors and which will be fully accessible through a dedicated lift at street level. This initiative will add another green space to Valletta’s urban fabric in the heart of its lower residential area. The garden is being designed by Tetsuo Kondo Architects from Japan, in collaboration with the Faculty for the Built Environment at the University of Malta.

The converted site will incorporate different spaces that contribute to building a vibrant creative hub of activity. Spaces equipped with tools and digital fabrication equipment, a co-working area for students and individuals active in the cultural sphere, a food space, several meeting rooms and conference facilities, as well as fifteen studios for longer-term engagement with collectives and organisations will be housed within the VDC. These would be organisations and initiatives that want to initiate and develop community-based cultural and creative projects that engage with design as a problem-solving tool.

Valletta Cultural Agency Chairman Jason Micallef said, “This is part of the tangible legacy that the Valletta 2018 – European Capital of Culture project has left behind, which is now being handled by the newly-established Valletta Cultural Agency.”

The VDC is a community space for cultural and creative practice which supports and promotes user-centred design as a catalyst for innovation, and a multi-disciplinary approach that can create positive impacts for communities and individuals. The key human con­tributors to this major regeneration effort are the Valletta residents and neighbouring communities together with cultural and creative professionals in design-intensive practices.

Following a three-year process of community engagement in the development of the concept and in-depth analysis of the needs of the sector, as well as interaction with the various communities that constitute the living link between the vibrancy of Valletta’s past and future, the major works on the conversion of the Old Abattoir site into the main base of the VDC took off in 2017.

The project’s strategic objective is to contrib­ute to the urban regeneration efforts being carried out by government in the mainly residential Mar­samxett side of Valletta, and specifically to improve social, cultural and economic well-being through investment in improved cultural infrastructure that generates new common spaces for the community to interact, as well as sustained economic activity and employment.

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