Project corner house / Zero-energy living

location: naxxar, malta

year: 2014 – current 


This objective of this project was to create a zero-energy semi-detached dwelling that would maximise its limited footprint in an efficient manner while offering an important contribution to the streetscape in its role as a corner property. We were struck by the plot’s angularity and triangular shape that immediately caught our imagination whilst wishing to enhance the corner further through the creation of a stark, geometric silhouette.

The heart of the matter of this property is the solar chimney that has been designed off a central courtyard. Spanning three storeys in height from the cool bottom basement level up to roof level, this solar chimney heats up air at the top through the glazed skylight. It uses the principle of convection to draw this warmer air out of side vents. As it is rising, the plenum of cooler air available in the basement is pulled upwards through the building, cooling the spaces at semi-basement and ground floor levels naturally. The solar chimney doubles up as a lightwell, providing a shaft of diffused light down to basement level. The opportunity for light is replete throughout the property. With the introduction of high-level windows, skylights and dramatic portals, the Maltese sun is exploited to its fullest, while ensuring a constant degree of cross-ventilation. The bedrooms are oriented to receive the morning sun, surrounding an east-facing courtyard. This allows for better temperature control during the hot, humid summer months as the courtyard is shaded throughout the afternoon, cooling its adjacent internal spaces in the process. The west-facing kitchen, located at the top level, incorporates a 7-metre long picture window, which takes advantage of stunning sunsets throughout its late afternoon and early evening use.

Designed for an art historian and an architect, the interior is reflective of their joint interests. Clean lines are joined with fields of texture – marble, concrete, perforated steel and natural wood – so as to strive for a balance. Space for artworks as well as sweeping bookcases are evocative of the owners. Overall, the essence of entertainment was also important. The outdoor terrace is accessible from the main living/dining space and leads to a pool deck enveloping a 10-metre long lap pool.



Photography by Sean Mallia.