The Valletta Design Cluster, Valletta’s new creative design space situated at the renovated Old Abattoir (Il-Biċċerija l-Antika), will be opening on the 24th March.
This community space for design-related cultural and creative practice at the heart of community life, promotes entrepreneurship and projects dealing with social impact and user-centred design. It is where design means both an innovation trigger and a multi-disciplinary approach creating positive impact on everyday life.
Discussing the importance of this space in Valletta, Perit Chris Briffa, who is synonymous with skilful design which moves away from stylistic mannerisms and is more concerned with proportion, materials and detail, describes the Valletta Design Cluster as “an important investment” for Malta. In an interview to Popolin, aired on TVM on Friday 12th March, Briffa spoke of the importance for such a project in Valletta which Grandmaster de Valette planned as “an ideal city” where the best quality of architecture, defence, infrastructure and accessibility was guaranteed.
He explained how over the years the island lost certain trades and architectural styles while the term ‘design’ started to be perceived as elitist and something that signifies luxury, perhaps as a result of the post-war pragmatic years.
In Briffa’s words, the Valletta Design Cluster is an ideal location, and signifies a fresh start in creating something new while building on Valletta’s mission as a centre of excellence.
“Design is what makes things memorable,” Briffa said. “The Valletta Design Cluster is important at this time as we realise that design is not a luxury but an important investment for a small island like ours and anything we do, whether it’s a building or a new road, should follow a certain discipline and respect the built environment. Such a realisation gives value to anything we produce and has the power to change our quality of life”.
The space includes a co-working area, a fully equipped makerspace, meeting rooms and conference facilities, a food space, studios for long-term tenants, a public roof garden and living-working spaces for visiting practitioners (‘International Project Labs’).
The facility will be accessible to anyone involved in design who wants to be creative and share their knowledge with communities, residents and other workers in the Old Abattoir area, designers and artists, entrepreneurs and students.
The project taps into national and European funds and is a legacy project of the Valletta 2018 Foundation, responsible for the European Capital of Culture title. The Valletta Design Cluster now forms part of the Valletta Cultural Agency’s operation.