The project involved the redevelopment of a site in the Portomaso complex in St. Julians, adjacent to the Portomaso Tower, the iconic and tallest skyscraper on the island of Malta. The building occupies an area of 530 m², a wedge at the intersection of two sloping roads with a difference of height of 7.40 meters. The existing site comprised 3 underground floors of car park (Level -5 to -3), a supermarket (Level -2) and a shopping centre (Level -1). On ground level was a cafeteria surrounded by a terraced area. Specifically, the project involved the demolition of the single-storey cafeteria and its replacement with an 11-storey building, comprising the new café and its terrace at Level 0 and offices from Level 1 to 10. The new 53.50 meters high building also re-shaped the main entrance of the existing tower. This structure was to be built over the existing reinforced concrete frame, which was not designed to take the new proposed structure. Phase 1 of the structural intervention was therefore the strengthening of the lower floors through the insertion of steel columns (substructure) which would ultimately continue running up through the height of the building into the superstructure. Since these columns were positioned adjacent to the existing concrete frame columns, the existing pad foundations needed to be extended. The foundation size was increased by creating a band around the existing foundations and thus increasing the tri-axial capacity of the foundation. All of the above, together with the demolition of the lightweight cafeteria structure, needed to be done within a tight programme and without affecting the business of the shops and parking. Phase 2 of the project was the construction of the superstructure. The building’s structure is a non-sway steel frame, using castellated beams to reduce the floor zone, and composite slab construction. The lateral stability of the structure was obtained via a combination of shear walls and steel K-bracing. This design was aimed to achieve a 10-working day construction cycle per level. The envelope of the building consists of a double glazing façade, with sun-protective film and partially protected by balconies, but it lays behind a sail-shaped frame, that is the architectural mark of the building. The double-curvature of the external diagrid was made possible through the use of stainless steel pipes whose main purpose was to drain rain water from all the balconies. Due to its non-linear geometry, the design required precise coordination using 3D modelling to enable the customized production of every single pipe element. The underside of the balconies, were clad in aluminium, and with their wood texture and the dedicated study of their lighting, add a warmer touch to the high-tech grid. The railing of balconies were in stainless steel mesh in order to reduce their visual impact. The building envelope on the north side is completed by a ventilated façade using brick proprietary terracotta tiles.
DeMicoli & Associates, established in 1985, is an internationally renowned architectural, engineering and interior design company based in Malta. The firm has received global recognition for its architectural works and design projects - having completed projects in Libya, Turkey, Sicily, Germany and the United States. DeMicoli & Associates has enriched itself by designing, constructing and managing a diverse number of commercial, residential, hospitality and restoration projects in Malta and internationally. The portfolio of the company ranges from large scale residential and commercial developments, to intimate restoration projects. The architectural firm’s hallmark is the ability to balance good architectural design without compromising practical or financial aspects. DeMicoli & Associates’ sound reputation as one of Malta’s finest architectural and design companies is based on radical and visionary approaches, and the ability to turn quandaries into profitable design solutions.
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