Valletta, Malta, 2015
EASA serves as a platform for architecture students from all over the world. Whilst on EASA hundreds of strangers become a temporary family, a sense of community fills the site and lifelong friendships are nurtured. Ideas, thoughts and cultures are shared. Easians are exposed to unknown things and become one, working, self-sustaining body, exuding and inducing EASA spirit.
Malta is situated on the African plate, strategically located mid-way between two continents. A place influenced by the southern most tip of Italy and the Northern most tip of Africa. An amalgamation of two cultures, resulting in a unique architectural expression; created by people with Mediterranean mannerisms; with a spoken language similar to it’s Semitic counterparts.
Malta is the epitome of merged cultures. Throughout its history Malta has been dominated and influenced by the Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Argonese, Spanish, Knights of St John, French and British. It has acted as a platform for trade between distant cultures. Always falling subject to rule due to its ideal location and vulnerable population. Each predecessor has left its mark on our tiny island, one which has contributed to the current population’s identity.
Valletta is located on the peninsula known as Mount Xiberras. It is surrounded by two of the main harbours on the island. Construction of the planned city began in 1566, and the architect was Francesco Laparelli. Named after the grandmaster of the time, Valletta was created in order to strengthen the knights permanent naval base in Malta. The site was divided into a grid pattern system and the buildings were designed in a mannerist style. The architecture of the city soon lent itself to a baroque nature. The city endured great bombing in the war and most of the buildings were rebuilt in a similar manner. The whole city is like an open-air museum and gives a glimpse into Malta’s past, tying layers of generations together in architecture, memory and experience.
It is said that beneath Valletta lies another city. A network of subterranean routes comprising shelters, cellars, wells and passageways. The roads above ground are mirrored below. This system was designed to allow for an ease of movement in times when the city was under siege. This network is closed off to the public and few are those who have ever experienced underground Valletta.
The site consists of a series of bastions and counter-guards that are all linked together with bridges, tunnels, sally ports and rock cut passageways, all giving onto a main ditch that will act as the hub of EASA. From our hub Easians will have direct access into Valletta’s core where they will merge with locals. EASA will create a pulse beneath the city and this will transcend throughout the whole of the 0.8 sq km that are known as Valletta. Forgotten spaces will be used from all over the city as satellite venues for lectures and activities throughout EASA015.
Participants will sprout out of hidden tunnels and alleys, right into the core and will leave their mark on this tiny city, adding to its palpable diversity.
Pictures by Alexandra Kononchenko.
EASA LINKS Summary Video - by Alexandra Kononchenko
Tutors: Christian Sluijmer, Carlyn Scimoen, Franck Reitsma
Participants: Carlyn Sluijmer, Vana Pavlik, Phillip Sandner, Jacob Lindloff, Ingdrida Silickaite, Andrew Abraham, Rob Scott, Aleksandra Kormushina, Alexandr Kulikov, Maya Laitinen, Bojan Stoyanov, Jasper, Jonathan Gillet, Gergana Georgieva, Gosia, Edel McGee, Tobias Hrabec, Katerina Hodkova, Patrick
This workshop linked the tools and techniques of Dutch expressionist Architecture of De Amsterdamse School with locally sourced Maltese limestone. The objective was to create a small, ‘sculpted’ pavilion on the site of a former gun turret at the top of a bastion wall in the port of Valletta. The design and construction was carried out over just three weeks by a team of international students working with a local builder and a sculptor. One block of Maltese limestone typically weighs over 40kg and so the work was tough in the Mediterranean heat. By cutting these blocks down into an 1/8 of their former size on an old band saw, the work became much more manageable whilst creating an opportunity to experiment with patterns and ornamentation that was not possible with a larger scale block. Through our collaboration we were able to construct a sculptural intervention that offered visitors a place to relax and enjoy the panoramic views of the beautiful port, whilst creating shade, framed views and tranquility.
An Unexpected Atlas of Valletta
Tutors: Jolein Bergers, Sofie Devriendt
Participants: Sophia Bannert, Antoine Basil, Aoife Flynn, Nick Green, Mélusine Le Brun, Andjela Markovic, Daisy Kinahan Murphy, Mathilde Norsker, Danijela Pavicic, Ixchel Ayes Rivera, Jerome Wren, Maryia Zakharava
During the workshop, students of architecture and urbanism produced a series of subjective mappings of Valletta in which an alternative view upon the city was developed. These mappings resulted in an “Unexpected Atlas of Valletta”, a more human, unconventional and ‘honest’ atlas, that serves as an alternative for the various (online) maps available that might give an insight, though never a true understanding. Personal involvement was the starting point: the students tried to understand the city by observing and drawing it from close by. In a second phase, the cultural identity of Valletta was further investigated by making more detailed mapping of subjects akin to the participants’ own interest. This atlas is an attempt to make a meaningful contribution to the theme of EASA Links in a creative, sensitive, yet critical way. It serves as a response to the increasing simplification of cartography, and wishes to show the complex reality that lies beyond the contemporary maps we know.