International firm Architecture Project recently completed a 20-story lift in the capital city of Malta that transports residents and visitors from the restored harbor below to the top of the imposing fortified walls. Commissioned by the Grand Harbor Regeneration Corporation, the lift provides unbeatable access to the walls that once kept enemy ships at bay, and are currently under conservation order. Originally built in 1905, the lift went out of use and was dismantled in the 1980s, but has now become the focus of a regeneration campaign to prepare the city for its role as a cruise ship terminal.
The new and improved access route will serve thousands of visitors approaching the city from the traditional arrival point at the foot of the bastions. Increased demands of the structure mean it now has a much larger footprint, along with a stronger vertical presence amongst the skyline of the historic harbor. By pulling the two lifts apart, architects were able to thread a staircase between the newly formed gap. Apart from meeting required safety standards, this addition enhances the structure’s vertical profile.
Geometric qualities were used to mimic the angular forms of the bastion walls, and the corrugated edges of the aluminum skin helped to make use of light as it hit the structure, once again emphasizing its height amongst the other imposing structures that surround it. Mesh was also used to mask the glazed surface of the lifts within, harking back to the original form of the cage lifts, all the while providing shade and protection to passengers on their journey.
The Barrakka Lift project required a certain rigor to resolve the conflict between maintaining the historic nature of the site and meeting the demands for better access, which stem from cultural and economic considerations.
Images by Architecture Project