Raising the roof

31 Oct 2011

Architecture Project design rehabilitation and extension to a 16th Century Palazzo

Casa Valdina, a 16th century palazzo in Valletta, Malta, was recently acquired by a financial services firm and is currently being restored. The client’s brief included the full restoration of the building’s fabric and the refurbishment of the palace to accommodate its varied and growing requirements. This noble two storey palace also served as a school in the early 20th century and as a Government Ministry later. It has a square floor plate with rooms around a central courtyard.

The restoration of the property to its original splendour necessitated the dismantling of all 20th century accretions to reveal the original tall volumes of the rooms and courtyard. The task of housing all functional requirements was an immediate indicator that additional space would be required.

In response to the site’s restrictions and in order to respect the building’s historical context a roof-top extension was created using a new contemporary and contrasting architectural idiom, a light-weight structure gently rested upon the existing fabric, distinguishable in material, texture and architectural language.

An extruded rectangular volume wraps itself around the courtyard slowly sinking, while detached from the historic walls, into the volume of the Piano Nobile below. This extension is clad in a layered skin composed of timber, glass and perforated steel panels. Although generally solid so as to shield the interiors during the hot summer months, the walls open in specific parts to reveal spectacular views over the city’s rooftops and out to sea.

The central courtyard will be covered with a glass roof, to accommodate a striking reception and waiting area. The restoration of Casa Valdina signals a new beginning for the building and a rebirth for the surrounding quarter as it awaits the regenerative energy of up and coming young professionals.

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