Located on the outskirts of the Xewkija Industrial Estate in the island of Gozo (Malta), the Gozo Innovation Hub, with a €9 million Euro investment co-financed by the European Union, is a unique multi-purpose business centre offering a wide array of services, all aimed at helping new companies set up with ease and then operate successfully.
The Gozo Innovation Hub comprises two buildings, the new Business Centre block and the existing and restored Administration block linked together by means of an existing and restored covered walkway and having a new courtyard between them that can be used for events.
The Business Centre block replaces the ex-Malta Diary Milk Processing Plant which was demolished. The Business Centre block recalls the original rectangular shape of the old factory and preserves its original north-west wall with its original concrete canopies.
The new facility is housed around a protected Modernist building built in the 1950s to a design by renowned Maltese architect Joseph Huntingford. It was formerly the administrative block of the milk factory. The Administration block of the old plant has been fully restored retaining not only the existing building structure but as well the existing finishes and apertures. It now houses offices, conference rooms and ancillary facilities.
The Administration block is characterized by a streamline design, devoid of any ornamentation, using cantilevered canopies and window hoods only possible by the use of the concrete.
Joseph Huntingford used to insert local characteristics in his modernist designs. In the Administration building, he introduced a concave façade inspired by the curved megalithic temple facades of the Maltese island. He used even common simple materials such as the pseudo rubble wall effect motif on the façade and the use of concrete bricks in creating the brise soleil corridor.
The Business Center block spreads on two floors and has a total area of 9,000 square meters. Each floor comprises a number of open plan business units, ranging in size between 85 square meters up to 270 square meters, with the possibility of interlinking units.
The rectangular shape is perforated by two internal patios and all the external facades are glazed. In order to achieve enough screening from solar radiation, the building is equipped with vertical louvers, which follow the orientation of the sun.
To the north, the louvers are placed at a greater distance from each other in order to achieve (been the northern the main façade of the building) a harmonic ornamental purpose.
The north façade leads to another external common and recreational area: a terrace, which roofs the entrance of the underground car park.
The design of the new Business block was chosen to be simple but functional, characterized by a pleasant external design but kept simple and in neutral colour in order not to compete with the shapes and the features of the existing and scheduled building. The result shows a harmonious combination between the past, preserved and reborn, and the present, efficient and well integrated.
The Gozo Innovation Hub is a project, which is outstanding within its context: it gave new life to a historical building, which was disused for several years and which was gutted by fire such that it was a structurally dangerous structure in imminent danger of collapse. The original building has been restored so that together with the new building it creates a project, which is characterized by modern, and environment friendly features.
The design of the Business Centre Block was kept in simple shape and in neutral colours in order not to compete with the existing and retained features but on the contrary, to harmonically integrate itself with them. The north-west glazed façade, with its transparency, almost embrace the original and retained wall in which are anchored the original concrete canopies and the louvers suddenly stops to highlight these features. The restoration of the original concrete canopies proved to be a great challenge. These canopies, which weigh several tonnes, had to be removed in one piece from the original building and without damaging them much that they would be put back in place once the basement car park was excavated and constructed. This segment of retained wall is the transitory design linking the brise soleil corridor to the Administration building: the glazed access doors in the north-west retained wall are treated with a texture, which recalls the solids/voids pattern of the connecting corridor. Part of the brise soleil corridor was broken and concrete blocks had to be specifically manufactured to replace the broken blocks since there were not of a standard size.
Great attention was given to the facade concept, which satisfies architectural facade and environmental design requirements. For this reason, the new building features a diagonally disposed louver system, which is solar-orientated in order to avoid excessive heat gain. The louvers façades give benefits to each office, which is properly screened along their outer skin. In order to guarantee the privacy to each unit, the internal glazed partitions are equipped with internal blinds. The common corridors instead, are enjoying natural light thanks to the two common patios.
The external areas have been landscaped using indigenous trees. To irrigate the landscaping a large reservoir with a capacity of 4.000 cubic meters has been constructed underneath the car park. Malta is an arid country with limited rainfall and so all the rainwater falling onto roofs and onto the paved areas is being collected and stored in the reservoir. The reservoir also provides second class water for secondary uses within the building.
Set up as an architectural engineering services consultancy firm in 1982, Med Design has over the past 38 years grown into a multi-disciplinary consultancy firm which has been involved in most of the major projects carried out in Malta.
We helped to deliver programmes across infrastructure and the real-estate sectors. We provide client-focused construction consultancy and solutions. Effective planning, efficient design and quality project and commercial management are all combined with Med Design’s team-oriented professionals. Our team of 25 plus employees hails from every sector and expertise in the field.
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Charles Buhagiar is the Managing Director of Med Design and has over 40 years’ experience of working in Malta as an Architect & Civil Engineer on some of the industry’s major projects.