The Three Cities is a strange place. With its multiple names, it resembles a realm straight out of George R.R. Martin’s mind, with an Orwellian twist. Three micro cities jutting out like the open beak of a seagull into the Grand Harbour (a series of harbours within a larger harbour). On entry through a tunnel-breach in the Cottonera Lines, flanked by War of the Worlds like cranes, over tarmacked roads, around soot stained buildings, under throngs of laundry hanging from balconies above, you arrive in the heart of it – Misraħ Gavino Gulia, at the head of Dock 1, the start of the latest public landscaping project. Wedged in between 16th century limestone bastions and Cold War post-war architecture, Dock 1 is found at the end of Dock Yard Creek, spreading on the shores of Vittoriosa, Cospicua and Senglea (The Three Cities). Malta’s development owes much to this area. The Dockyard Creek have been used as a harbour since the Roman period. The legacy of the dockyard ultimately was one of social separation – the entire waterfront was alienated from its surrounding community. The Cottonera Regeneration Project, by the Government of Malta and aided by EU funds, aims at improving the Three Cities area and its waterfront, with Dock 1 to be considered a critical nodal-link in achieving the sustainable regeneration of the whole area.Until the landscaping project was implemented, the waterfront was walled off to the public. For any regeneration to commence, both physically and socially, the removal of barriers to the waterfront was of the utmost importance. This social emphasis of urban regeneration is at the core of the landscaping project. The creek once again unites, rather than divides the residential quarters of the Three Cities, through a continuous 2.5km long promenade, linking Senglea’s and Vittoriosa’s waterfronts with gardens and public spaces, retaining the industrial heritage of the dockyard. The landscaping of the waterfront and public spaces around it can be viewed as a series of nodes (space of urban-gravitas).
Misraħ Gavino Gulia, was transformed from a busy round-about to a pedestrian-priority open piazza, and with the removal of the gate and wall it now extends to the water’s edge. Its landside perimeter is lined with shops and bars, turning the space into an established town-centre and gateway for visitors and locals to access either side of the waterfront. Each node is linked through the waterfront and street level promenade; a series of lawned dunes creating tiny pockets of public yet personal spaces, with the use of designed public-furniture; steel strapped wooden beam benches; concrete cubed seating and tables; all elements recalling the dockyard’s long industrial identity. The dock itself was methodically restored. Services and utilities were re-laid and buried all throughout the entire are, uncluttering the reclaimed public spaces, and several traffic calming measures were introduced to give priority to pedestrian flows. Sustainability is ensured by the NEPTUME (No-Discharge Energy-Efficient Prototype for the Treatment of Urban Municipal Effluent) system and by the lighting design-the consumption of the LED lighting for the entire site is equivalent to that of no more than a few households.
The Dock 1 regeneration project has been in the making for a long time. Through dialogue with the local councils, local businesses, traders and NGOs, the project reads as a reactive design, sensitive to the needs of a community.
MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Alberto Miceli Farrugia, David Drago, Matthias Plaehn, Charles Sciberras, Rune Jakobsen
Frank Franjou Lighting Design, University of Malta - Biology Department, Argotti Botanical Gardens, Water Services Corporation (WSC)
Luis Rodriguez Lopez, Patrice Peyre, Guillaume Dreyfuss
AP has grown naturally, organically and, to a certain degree, spontaneously. Its spirit is independent of any specific mission, chosen a priori. It is the product of the convergence of several tasks and of the orchestration of the multitude of disciplines. Each project tackled, whether architectural, design or planning related, contains a collection of ideas, some tried and tested, others new and unprompted, whose unorthodox overlap and unsettling combination is what brings the product to life.
We have the undiminished ambition to evoke, in varying ways, a common sense of architecture as a generator of real life, not only the backdrop to events, big or small, historical or routine. Architecture and design, for us, is more than space, setting, context and form. We would like to create an Architecture that is a place-maker, a container of meaning, a catalyst for the creation of kinship, a fabricator of myth and a producer of narratives.