40 Room Boutique Hotel / Chris Briffa Architects

© Courtesy of

Architects: Chris Briffa Architects
Location: Valletta,
Design: Chris Briffa, Sandro Valentino, Eleonora Zinghini
Client: Valletta Local Council
Project situation: Awaiting Development Permission
Images: Courtesy of Chris Briffa Architects

© Courtesy of Chris Briffa Architects

Marsamxetto Harbour will site a new, sea-front hotel, integrating a contemporary building with a 16th century period house; believed to have been occupied by Valletta’s renowned artist Mattia Preti.

Perched on the edge of Salvatore Bastion, the project consists of two main interventions. Firstly it involves the restoration and conversion of the Mattia Preti House into the hotel’s common areas on the ground floor and four luxury suites on the first floor. Secondly, the two infill volumes – one adjacent to the house and one overlying it – will effectively harmonize Masamxetto’s skyline when viewed from across the harbour, whilst supplying the hotel with a further 35 guest rooms and a penthouse suite.

© Courtesy of Chris Briffa Architects

A pedestrian, stepped walkway will detach the new construction from the old, revealing the corner façade of the old house, while providing public access from Marsamxett Road to Old Theatre Lane. Glass bridges will link the two buildings above the public walkway, while a glazed façade on Old Theatre Lane will introduce the energy of a busy hotel atrium into an otherwise very narrow and dreary alleyway.

With the site lying directly above the Valletta-Sliema ferry dock, a proposed public lift (accessible from the street while lying in the hotel’s footprint) will connect Marsamxett Road to the seafront below. This will facilitate vertical access to guests, visitors and locals arriving from across the harbour. The adjacent and currently derelict water polo pitch will be converted into the hotel’s lido and beach facilities, possibly also reinstating the defunct Valletta water polo club.

© Courtesy of Chris Briffa Architects
© Courtesy of Chris Briffa Architects

The visual integration with the adjacent buildings and fortifications, particularly when viewed from across Marsamxetto Harbour, required an aesthetic that had to be primarily centred on the use of local limestone. Old and New are integrated in their materiality and separated by distinct voids. The new stepped walkway and a recessed floor will create this separation in the form of strong ‘shadow gaps’ in order that both remain clearly identifiable.

We wanted to ensure views from the rooms, and yet were preoccupied with antagonistic, large glazed apertures. This led to the creation of a delicate, sculptural skin; which satisfied both concerns.

© Courtesy of Chris Briffa Architects

Approaching the hotel from either side of Valletta’s peripheral road at first presents a façade built entirely out of stone. The façade’s tactile geometry, borrowed from the nearby bastions, reveals the apertures only when one stands directly in front of the building. From across the harbour, the prevailing areas of stone and the vertically proportioned openings merge happily with the surrounding windows and gallarija cityscape.

This new experience of the city, we are very hopeful, will promote Valletta as a top international destination, while restoring the sophistication and innovative motivations of its original enlightened architects and creators.

Cite: Rosenberg, Andrew. "40 Room Boutique Hotel / Chris Briffa Architects" 26 Feb 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=112092>
  • the uninformed observer

    After months of watching its elegant facade develop, the neighbors will sob as it turns black and blue.

  • Adey

    Great article.

    It would be useful to know which country the building is in at the start of the article rather than a long scroll down to the map at the bottom.


    • mikeyb66

      It does, twice. Unless you didn’t realise Malta was a country.

      It took me a while to figure out what this project was actually going to look like. Seemed a bit confusing having the black and blue box image as the first one. I’m not convinced by the angular facade perhaps it is derived from the local architecture. It seems like an interesting project overall though with the inclusion of public access and the lido.

  • yeho

    I can’t understand
    how it’s possible, born on Malta and not understanding it…

  • Anna Trigona

    Interesting structure but wrong location. It will be unpardonable to allow this construction to go up and not only ruin the fabric of Valletta but actually imprison the inhabitants immediately behind without the light and air they currently enjoy! The Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee has advised rightly that any réhabilitation of the area should not go higher than the current 2 floors. So let’s see a new proposal which respecst the well-being of citizens as mentioned in the Granada Convention of which Malta is a state party!

  • Anna Trigona

    What a disaster for Valletta and its inhabitants if this project goes through! Why not a proposal which takes into account the well-being of the citizens and respect their current access to light and air as récompenses by the Cultural Heritage Advisory Committe and as foreseen by the Granada Convention of which Malta is a state party!

  • Louise Farrugia

    It might interest you all that what Mr. Chris Briffa is doing is ENCROACHING ON PRIVATE PROPERTY and what’s more both he, the applicant and the MALTA ENVIRONMENT PLANNING AUTHORITY are aware, since the frontage of this property (excluding the old building) belongs to my family as has been advised to Mr. Briffa and to MEPA through our lawyers.

    How someone can flagrantly be allowed to go through such a FRAUD is unbelievable. This is supposedly being applied for by the Valletta Local Council, when this land still belongs to the Government. My family has lived and operated in that house since my great grandfather when it was a Cigarettes Factory, later changed to our house where we lived till 1966 after which it was changed to a Guest House, still by my family. A story is now being invented that Mattia Preti lived there.

    No one from the authorities has bothered to even contact us, however we can rest everybody’s mind that we have all the necessary documentation.