Understanding Interior Space is a course module forming part of the first year M. Arch course at the University of Malta and has been led by Sandro Valentino since 2021. Divided into three core segments across respective semesters, the course covers contextual learning through invited lectures, a research phase driven by students, and a final design phase that includes a project brief, site and client. Collectively, the segments blend academic and practical learning, offering students authentic experience of work in practice.
In its first year, Understanding Interior Space focused on themes of heritage, taking a 17th century watchtower, Torri tal-Għallis, as its project site. Following a series of classroom and on site lectures, students were asked to conduct research around the tower, with smaller groups within the class covering separate themes, including: drawings; stories and experiences; analysis and physiognomy; and project brief. In the course’s final phase, the students groups presented an interiors proposal
for the tower, drawing on the themes and research held within earlier segments of the module. The course took on a similar structure in its second year, focusing on the theme of duality, with the mid- 19th century Delimara Lighthouse chosen as the project site.
Throughout the lecture series, students are provided hands-on experience working with a real site, real client – Flipthis Malta – and being made to work together collectively as though in practice. Each year also includes a product design lecture, conducted in a working factory, with invited designers joining to give insight on their processes.
Understanding Interior Space offers students a real-world design scenario, de-shackling the design process from conventional constraints of budget or planning requirements, yet grounding it in practicalities of realisation. At the end of each course year, project designs present opportunity for materialisation, tangibly bridging the gap between research and practice.