Offices of Ganado Advocates wins the Din L-Art Helwa Award
Din L-Art Helwa, a Maltese environmental NGO, organises the annual award scheme to give public recognition to projects of an architectural importance that contribute to the Maltese built heritage.
The Ganado Advocates Offices comprises of two back-to-back buildings, situated in the heart of Valletta and originally date back to the first phase of the building of the Valletta, although they must have been rebuilt during the middle to late 18th century, when the city underwent a massive restructuring.
The two houses are situated in one of the historically central, up and coming streets in Valletta. The location and proximity to the Law Courts made it ideal to house the offices of the prestigious international law firm.
Prior to the recent conversion, the two buildings were used as residence for individuals allocated by a governmental Requisition Order. The properties remained inhabited until the start of the project, but due to decades of neglect they had fallen into disrepair.
The conversion, both from a conservation and from an identity point of view, aimed at retaining the Maltese character of the buildings. A primary design challenge was the mediation between the expected image of the company by the client and the needs and comfort of its employees.
The large courtyard in one of the buildings was restored to become the heart of the office, around which all other activities take place. The interface with the public is accommodated in areas close to this public domain, while quiet spaces have been created in the more secluded parts of the various floors which are used for private and individual work.
The choice of materials and finishes, textures and colours, were made in close collaboration with the client. The requirement of variable transparency made the use of glass as a dominant material. This clientelism openness is countered by the need for seclusion and privacy needed by a legal practice of its kind.
If the courtyard could be considered as the heart of the public face of the office then the library serves as the centre of working life.
All additions to the old fabric of the building (staircases, mezzanines, partitions etc.) have been carefully designed to ensure that they are recognizable as belonging to current times, using new materials, such as steel and glass. This does not only provide richness to the palette of, but allows for easy dismantling and reversibility as directed by modernist theory of restoration, the Charter of Venice (1964).
Even after this new intervention grafted itself onto the old fabric of the palazzos, its main historic essence has been retained. The architectural flavour of three centuries has been kept intact. The fresh layer, added to this once dilapidated building, like new leaves growing on an old bark, the original fabric is drawn forward into the contemporary world. New life is given to the old structure without losing its origins.
Photo Credits: AP and Luis Rodriguez