Forming part of the 2023 Time, Space, Existence showcase hosted by the European Cultural Centre (ECC) in Venice, GĦALLIS is a small-scale exhibition that highlights Malta’s need for retrofit and a shift in focus for heritage conservation.
Valentino Architects together with Ann Dingli, Sumaya Ben Saad, Matthew Farrugia, Luca Zarb and Tara Žikić will be presenting the exhibition, which centres on a coastal watchtower sited along the north-eastern shore of Malta called Torri tal-Għallis. The tower was built in 1658 by Grandmaster Martin De Redin of the Knights of the Order of St John as one in a string of defence fortifications encircling the islands’ perimeter, many of which are now vacant.
The GĦALLIS exhibition isolates nine fragments of the tower’s existing fabric and shows them in relationship with respective architectural elements that come together to form the tower’s new interiors. In presenting this relationship, the exhibition detaches the tower from rigid confines of time and space, encouraging instead an observation of fluctuating use. GĦALLIS explores how historic structures might be creatively adapted and made more accessible to wider public use. Its new architectural elements’ functional flexibility is driven by an end- goal of inclusiveness, resisting prescribed functions that might preclude the tower from specific uses or users.
The exhibition team for GĦALLIS is made up of practitioners and architectural students and was born out of a university module titled ‘Understanding Interior Space’, part of the first year M. Arch course at the University of Malta, led by Sandro Valentino. In bringing GĦALLIS to Venice, the team hopes to position its design as a prompt for exploration around flexible retrofit, introducing a new counter to a local cult of newbuild development. GĦALLIS presents an alternative approach to heritage preservation and the protection of historic assets, moving away from their conservation as relics and towards activating their evolving use.
GĦALLIS will open to the public in Venice on 18.05.23 at Palazzo Mora, and will remain on show till November 2023. The architectural project for Torri tal-Għallis was designed by Valentino Architects with Sumaya Ben Saad, Nigel Borg, Matthew Farrugia, Luca Zarb, and Tara Žikić and the project is being developed in consultancy with the tower’s custodians, Din L-Art Ħelwa, supported by local retrofit developer, Jeffrey Farrugia. GĦALLIS is being brought to Venice by the same design team, together with curator Ann Dingli.
GĦALLIS has been generously sponsored by Salini Resort and Claret Group; RLAUTIER; Bathroom Design; Onepercent; Bonavia Bros. Co. Ltd.; Ventura; Elektra; Schranz Ltd.; Cultural Heritage Projects Ltd.; and DARI.