A garden in the city / Urban open space

location: mellieha, malta

design competition – winners

year: 2013- current

Upon visiting the site, two characteristics immediately struck us. The first was its sloping nature, which suggested that there was an interesting play of levels to be exploited. The second was the potential visual cone from the northwestern edge of the site that directed one’s view towards the religious institution, at the time still in construction. It became predominate that this important visual connection had to be retained and indeed improved upon. Our departing concept therefore revolved around the creation of a new landscape that could ‘frame’ the future landmark, balanced on either side with the inclusion of green areas, trees and a handful of small structures concentrated around the current electricity sub-station on site, which was to be retained. Through a number of on-site analyses and observations, we concluded that a green, recreational pocket was the answer.


We propose this space as Malta’s first public community garden, which is further designed around sustainable principles, managed by the residential community in agreement with the Mellieha Local Council, which would establish parameters in terms of allowable design elements and the planting of species. On either side of the visual cone are two green mounds, which provide an organic transition along the site profile and further frame the landmark building. Ancillary structures include accessibility for all public wc’s, a small info point and two viewing areas that exploit the site’s topographical position to offer interesting views of the protected inland cliffs and the urban townscape. The proposed structures further screen the existing sub-station’s blank walls and provide improved façades.


A number of sustainable design concepts have been integrated in this design proposal, from the re-modelling of the existing landform into new contours to the collection of water for irrigation purposes and for re-use as second-class water. In this respect, the paving scheme is interspersed with greenery, allowing rainwater to percolate through into an aquifer located beneath the site. The low grass in between the paving blocks filters the percolated water, allowing for a sustainable urban drainage system.