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Title: Reinventing a historic city
Authors: Zammit, Antoine
Keywords: City planning -- Malta
Dwellings -- Remodeling -- Malta
Architecture, Domestic -- Conservation and restoration
Historic buildings -- Malta -- Valletta
Urban renewal -- Malta
Sustainable urban development -- Malta
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Shashikala Venkatraman
Citation: Zammit, A. (2015). Reinventing a historic city. My Liveable City, 2(1), 80-86.
Abstract: Dr Antoine Zammit takes a look at the city of Valletta that has implemented the technique of adaptive reuse and shows us its wider implications. Malta is currently undergoing a renewed wave of adaptive reuse strategies. This is due to a number of reasons. Most certainly, it is partly a response to existing market conditions, which in recent decades have been characterised by constant (often speculative) residential construction. This has often resulted in the demolition of traditional two-storey houses and their rebuilding into apartment blocks located on the outskirts of towns and villages. The recent building boom (particularly between 2002 – 2008) provided a strong property market resulting in an environment dominated by ‘quantity’, as opposed to ‘quality’ considerations and generating a surplus of small apartments with rooms sharing poorly lit and ventilated internal yards. In addition, the increase in prices of apartments implied that it cost as much to buy a small finished apartment within a complex of internal developments as a larger older house, albeit not necessarily centrally located and requiring some restructuring. The reduction in quality for the newer stock of apartments and their corresponding increase in prices is pushing a number of younger couples to opt for the purchase of older houses and redeveloping them to suit their needs. In tandem with the above, the increased adaptive reuse of existing building stock has also been the direct result of government incentives and the channelling of EU Structural Funds in order to revive Urban Conservation Areas that became depleted of younger generations as they moved out to the newer edges. EU Funds have also been used to restore and rehabilitate a number of historical buildings, which have lent themselves to new uses. Such rehabilitation is best exemplified within the island’s capital city, Valletta.
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