A few years ago, Richard England’s celebrated ‘Villa la Maltija’ and its surrounding gardens in San Pawl tat-Targa (Malta) were demolished to make way for semi-detached villas. Permission was granted for the developers to divide the estate into parcels of land with an average area of 250 square metres each.
The next six years saw a busy construction landscape of the twenty or so structures – each by a different owner employing a different architect – all designed and built at pretty much the same time; yet all very different from each other. A sort of microcosm of local middle-class architectural tastes, the neighbourhood varies in style; from traditional to modern to nondescript.
One of these lots was entrusted to Chris Briffa Architects, who designed and recently completed this sculptural white cube with seemingly very few apertures, hanging over a narrow but gripping side-garden.
From the street, a steel staircase bridges over the underlying front garden and invites us beneath the sheltering white mass. High louvered doors, similar to traditional Maltese ‘persjani’, lead to the interior. Essentially two opposing openings and a staircase, the entry hall is compact but motivating: an unassuming composition of horizontal lines of glass, steel, timber and marble. One opening is a doorway into the living area, while the other a narrow window to the outside; catching a glimpse of water from the pool beneath. The hall extends upwards onto a light steel staircase, sandwiched between an eight-metre-high space naturally lit from above.source