The Malta Independent 16 September 2019, Monday

Cittadella Visitor Experience wins Prix d’Honneur in Major Regeneration Project category

Sunday, 22 January 2017, 08:30 Last update: about 4 years ago

Din l-Art Helwa Awards for Architectural Heritage

Din l-Art Helwa has announced the winners of its 2016 Architectural Heritage Awards Scheme organized with the support of the Kamra tal-Periti (Chamber of Architects).

Now in its 12th edition, the Din l-Art Helwa Awards Scheme gives public recognition to projects that contribute to architectural excellence in a Maltese context through the rehabilitation and reuse of built heritage and encourage those active in its restoration. The awards were presented on Friday by President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca.


This year there were 10 entries across the three different categories.

The first, Category A, is Major Regeneration Project - this category covers projects which have brought about a significant impact in improving the quality of the urban environment.  This category is intended for medium to large-scale projects which have influenced in a positive way the urban fabric of an old town or city and added tangible benefits to the local community.

The Prix d'Honneur in this category was awarded to the Cittadella Visitor Experience by Martin Xuereb & Associates. This extremely original project saw the transformation of the former reservoirs into a state-of-the art visitor's interpretation centre for the Cittadella. The judges were impressed by the choice of materials and the detailing in the design, as well as the creative solutions to improve the overall legibility of the site, and the visitor experience. This could be seen in the original shoring up of the breach that was made in the curtain wall in the 1950s, while allowing access when necessary. This intervention involved the restoration of the old entry gate to the Cittadella, and the re-design of the access paths, including the installation of a lift.

In Category B, The Rehabilitation and Re-use of Buildings, - these are projects which have sought to rehabilitate historic buildings and also re-define their uses. Such projects emphasize re-adaptation and re-utilisation to the needs of contemporary society, while respecting the historical memory of that particular building or structure. It was decided to award The Prix d'Honneur in this category to the project called "Rapprochement" by Matthew James Mercieca Architects. The jury felt that the re-integration of a series of old structures in a village house to create a contemporary home which revolved around them, was an interesting philosophy to adopt. The new elements, in particular the suspended central staircase, are of an extremely good design, with attention to detail in every aspect.

The third Category C is for a Restoration and Conservation Project. This considers projects which are intended to achieve comprehensive restoration and conservation as far as possible in conformity with their original physical state and carried out on the basis of scientific restoration methodology. The Prix d'Honneur in this category was awarded to The Restoration Directorate, for the Restoration and Consolidation of the Mdina Fortifications. This project is to be admired, as it has finally come to terms with problems and dangers that had been long noticed, but ignored. It was an act of courage to take the bull by the horns and resolve them before embarking on restoration of a more cosmetic nature. It is correct to say that this project has saved the City of Mdina for the nation, and the Restoration Directorate Team is to be admired for its determination and stamina in ending this gargantuan project.

President Coleiro Preca brought the ceremony to a close, congratulating all participants on their significant contribution to architectural heritage excellence. She had words of praise for Din l-Art Helwa when she quoted the ancient Greek proverb comparing the 50-year-old NGO to "the old man who plants trees whose shade he knows he will never sit in".

The panel of judges was chaired by Maria Grazia Cassar, Executive President Din l-Art Helwa, and composed of Dr Conrad Thake, architect and historian, representing the Kamra tal-Periti, Dr Antonio Mollicone, from the University of Malta, Din l-Art Helwa Council member Perit Joanna Spiteri Staines, and Architetto Mario Pisani, who came over from Italy to take part in the judging.

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