A land of golden walls and clear blue skies. The only mineral natural resource on the island of Malta is the land on which it sits. Globigerina limestone is the material which has formed the architectural landscape of this island from prehistoric times.
The extraction of this material has over the course of time been commercialised and the island is now dotted with limestone quarries creating deep scars in the limited landscape. Once the quarry is depleted of its natural resource, it is converted into a landfill for demolition waste. The quarries are filled and rise to form mounds of neglect, a new scar is created, a hill of waste, a shrine to our unsustainable approach and desire to join the world’s rat-race of overdevelopment.
Land in Malta is limited, as architects we need to acknowledge this fact and start to make a difference. This was the driving force behind A Collective’s exhibit at the European Cultural Centre’s 17th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice titled ‘Time, Space, Existence’ a collateral event to the Biennale Architettura 2021 organised by La Biennale Di Venezia and curated by Hashim Sarkis. We have brought together a team of dedicated individuals to shine a light on an intrinsically local, recycled material developed by Professor S. Buhagiar, ‘ReStone’. ‘ReStone’ takes construction waste material, predominantly limestone waste and re-engineers this to form a reconstituted limestone material. The material can be poured into moulds of any shape or size whilst retaining the golden hue of the original limestone allowing it to fit seamlessly into the architectural topography.
AKKA, ‘H’ in Maltese, was conceived as a contemporary interpretation of the standard limestone building block. AKKA attempts to challenge the common perception of stone as a heavy, impermeable and static material whilst playing on vernacular construction techniques of stacking, spanning and interlocking. AKKA strives to portray reconstituted limestone as a sustainable solution for contemporary architecture which respects the past and looks forward to a cleaner and greener approach.
To validate the exhibit, A Collective have engaged the professional assistance of Dr Margaret Camilleri Fenech. A full lifecycle analysis was not possible due to the confidentiality agreement currently in place and instead a circular construction study together with an environmental footprint analysis of ReStone using it’s current material composition was carried out. The publication curated by Robert Colvin can be viewed here.
Project is supported by Arts Council Malta
Project was made possible by the immense contribution of Halmann Vella & BRND WGN
Professor Spiridione Buhagiar, Hugh Vella, Julian Vassallo (photographer), James Vernon (videographer), Robert Colvin and Dr. Margaret Camilleri Fenech (environmental researcher)
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