Rehabilitation of vacant residential unit into a shopping arcade

Date : 2008
Site Area : 158m²

A disused residence, on the real estate market for a long time, and the former dwelling where Anton Grasso - the leading Maltese author of horror books - was brought up, was rehabilitated into a shopping arcade comprising five Class 4 shops.

existing premises

The premises are a two storey terraced house corner with a main road. They are located within the urban conservation area of Paola and the buffer zone of the labyrinthine complex of man-made chambers hewn out of rock known as the Hypogeum - a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are situated in the designated Primary Town Centre as per South Malta Local Plan. The premises were characterized by the absence of concrete blockwork and slabs. It is a load-bearing masonry structure roofed over by masonry slabs supported by steel beams with staircases. The main staircase, from ground to first floor, is in fine masonry.

plans and section

The total floor area of the premises is circa 243m², whilst the proposed shops cover a floor area of circa 116m². No external alterations except for the re-opening of a blocked aperture at first floor level were introduced, an intervention which enhanced the existing streetscape rather than adversely affecting it. A number of internal alterations, mainly the introduction of openings in existing load-bearing partition walls and the part demolition and rebuilding of sanitary and lift facilities in order for the premises to be rendered accessible for all, were proposed. All external apertures and metalwork were restored. The main staircase was retained whilst the flight from the first to roof level was made of steel supported timber stairs designed to a layout similar to the masonry staircase.

existing premises

The north-facing window at roof level was extended from floor to ceiling maximizing on daylight to the stairwell whilst minimizing heat gain.

The project was favourably regarded by the local planning regulatory body because:

"The alterations being proposed can be positively recommended since the proposal would not adversely affect the character of the building but would render it functional for the intended use and providing access for all. Furthermore, the main features of the building which include the existing facade of the building and the main staircase are proposed to be retained."