Valentino Architects - Dar il-Mitħna, a future family home from a cluster of heritage buildings
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Dar il-Mitħna, a future family home from a cluster of heritage buildings

Valentino Architects

Renovation  /  Completed
Valentino Architects

The leading idea for Dar il-Mitħna was to convert a cluster of heritage buildings in a Maltese village, including a 16C mill room, into a future family home. Although undocumented, the site’s original mill room may have once been used as a chapel, pointing to the building’s early evolving function from food production to sacred space. The new contemporary design as a two-storey home positions a central courtyard as its connecting agent. Three newly inserted volumes define its main intervention, extending upwards from the existing buildings’ footprint, connected by a glazed walkway that activates the conversion through new circulation.

Dar il-Mitħna is sited in Attard, a typical Maltese village whose urban grain has gradually thickened as a result of swelling density. This reflects wider issues of land scarcity in Malta, exacerbated by overdevelopment and population increase. Dar il-Mitħna’s retrofit design champions a default of adaptation as a counter to this condition. The design for the new intervention ensures that contemporary additions are hidden from street views, yet boldly visible on entering the home. The intervention’s contemporary stone finish announces the new from the old, delineating texturally between the 16th century and present-day bands of rooms. The sights of the village reflect off the home’s glass walkway at daytime, which glows softly as though an oversized lantern at night.

Dar il-Mitħna’s predominantly retrofit programme makes it an inherently sustainable project, with new interventions being built in major part from locally quarried stone and with a design that preserves the passive thermal performance of the traditional Mediterranean outdoor courtyard. As such, the design promotes the re-use of existing building fabric as an antidote to its specific context’s condition of overbuilding and consequent environmental unsustainability, presenting an architecture that responds to the composition of the typical Maltese village and its climatic and density characteristics.

The design of Dar il-Mitħna addresses a need to link a cluster of Grade I and II listed buildings, including a mill room dating to around the mid-to-late 16C. Introducing new cohesion between the buildings to create a future family home, the design positions an outdoor courtyard as a connecting agent, allowing the disparate spaces to each communicate with the sun-soaked hearth of the home. A glazed walkway curates this connection, functioning as a binding passage between the three volumes. Invisible from the street, the walkway is both hidden and boldly announced, conceived as a reflective layer of contrast between old and new. It forms a lustrous perimeter along two internal facades, carrying its users from one living block to another. The walkway graduates from solid reflection to sheer translucency throughout the day, its opacity moderating with the sun’s changing light. In the morning , it reflects the courtyard’s yellow stone and the surrounding village, appearing as an elongated band that elbows once. At night, its glazed corridor is internally lit, illuminating the pool area below and revealing movements of its inhabitants as they travel from one bedroom to another. The ground level, which looks out to the courtyard, is home to the dining and living areas. Its main room also plays on grades of visibility – tall cabinets punctuate the edge of its space , resembling minimalist boulders that at times double as doorways to tangential rooms.

We needed a home that could provide the right mix of spaces for a young family – a blend of privacy and spaces for entertainment and togetherness. The design delivers on that by bringing life back into the old rooms within the historic buildings, connecting them in thoughtful, unexpected ways. The walkway is wonderful to experience at night as it lights up the open space below and allows us to catch glimpses of each other walking from one room to another.


 Greg and Bex Gera
 405 mq
  450,000.00 €
 Valentino Architects
 Zoe Mizzi, Julian Vassallo, Maria Sammut, Sandro Valentino
 Ivan Muscat - Structural Design
 Ramon Portelli


Valentino Architects is a design-led architecture studio based in Valletta, Malta. We work collaboratively with consultants, contractors and material suppliers to design high-quality spaces and objects, with projects built as tailored solutions through a process of open dialogue. Our work is a study in form, proportion, detailing and texture, characterised by an economy of scale , colour and material. We have built a design approach that prioritises collaboration and is driven by social, environmental and urban impact.

Our team is non-hierarchical, working to deliver architecture that is user and context driven. As a studio, we have a growing interest in alternative urban development and sustainable solutions. We work to inform our design, ideas and concepts through writing , research and active industry participation.


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