Rethinking the urban space / Design for Scicluna Steps and Balluta Square

location: st julian’s, malta

urban design

year: 2013

Balluta Square and Scicluna Steps together offer an important urban node with the potential to create better accessibility and better connection with the surrounding land uses. Major issues hinder Scicluna Steps today. Our analysis evidenced that this space is somewhat disconnected, with visibly no accessibility. In spite of its location, it is characterised by low pedestrian traffic – possibly because it is perceived to be an unattractive, non-stimulating space. Our design objective was to create a meaningful place that is knitted back into the main urban node. The urban space is rethought as a vital component of a vibrant, pedestrianised neighbourhood in social, economic and environmental terms. Many successful case studies showcase the importance of stimulating pedestrian footfall, enhanced through artistic interventions as well as the integration of natural elements and optimum lighting levels at night that increases the safety and security of the space. Together, these develop to increase informal gathering and activities, breathing life back into the urban realm.

Our strategic proposal centres on the creation of a prioritised pedestrian space, with a traffic-calmed area outlining the extents of Balluta Square and Scicluna Steps, thus enabling it to read as one legible urban space. This allows for opportunities for a broader holistic scheme along the promenade to be generated, becoming an important urban catalyst in the process. Place-specific outdoor furniture and lighting have been introduced to complement the intervention, and to also nurture the present thriving community of bars, cafés and restaurants in the area.