Botanic Garden, Malta
Submitted for Global Architecture Graduate Awards 2014 and AECOM Urban SOS Open Ideas Competition.
The smallest capital in Europe, Valletta is a city with an area of just 80 hectares. A dense population of residents, coupled with historic narrow streets have resulted in little green space provision inside the capital's walls.
This proposal puts forward a horticultural research centre and botanic garden to be located in Floriana; a dormant precinct which lies just outside the capital city of Valletta. With a large, partially derelict site currently given over to coach storage it seemed an appropriate piece of land to regenerate. Rich with seventeenth century history, the site couldn’t be more fitting to educate tourists and the Maltese on nature, plants and island heritage.
The research building has two remits; the preservation of endemic endangered plants as well as growth in arid climates. The strata-like length of the form references the site’s seventeenth century walls which originally served to protect the city of Valletta from attackers. Both built elements, building and bridge, serve to stitch the derelict site back together; a concept evocative of Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold. This process inadvertently results in a decoration, the form of which is dictated by the breakage the piece has suffered.
The landscape aspect of the scheme acts as a counterpoint to the built form of Valletta and provides an opportunity to witness the island’s heritage in a landscape setting. The layout of the garden draws from Voronoi tesselation, a pattern which accounts for many formations in nature such as the wings of a dragonfly.