Cittadella Visitor Experience awarded The Prix d”Honneur by DLH
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Din l-Art Helwa has announced the winners of its 2016 Architectural Heritage Awards Scheme organised with the support of the Kamra tal-Periti. The Cittadella Visitor Experience was awarded The Prix d”Honneur in Category A – Major Regeneration Project.
Now in its twelfth edition, the Din l-Art Helwa Awards Scheme is intended to give 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 by President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca after being announced by Ms Maria Grazia Cassar, chairperson of the Award Scheme panel of judges. This year there were ten entries across the three differenct 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 have 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 1950’s, 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 emphasise 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 reintegration 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 so 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, is 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.
DLH said that 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 their determination and stamina in bringing this gargantuan project to a successful close.
President Coleiro-Preca brought the ceremony to a close, congratulating all participants on their significant contribution this year to architectural heritage excellence. The panel of judges was made up 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.