left: The 15m high Water Tower structure, with a tank having a capacity of 400 cubic m in severe state of degradation;
right: The Water Tower structure and with a tank after restoration
The Water Tower Conservation Project awarded the Prix d’Honneur in Restoration and the Din l-Art Ħelwa Judge Caruana Curran Best Project award.
Prof. Ruben Paul Borg, of the Faculty for the Built Environment, University of Malta has been awarded the Prix’d’Honneur in Restoration, for “the outstanding contribution to Maltese Cultural Heritage and the achievement of architectural excellence in Malta through the Historic Reinforced Concrete Water Tower Conservation Project”, by Din L-Art Ħelwa.
Prof. Borg was further awarded the 2021 Judge Maurice Caruana Curran price, signifying the best in all categories.
Projects in the XVI edition of the awards, were judged on the quality of the work executed, historic, cultural, educational and social relevance, research conducted and aesthetic and visual merit. The ‘Judge Maurice Caruana Curran Award’ was launched in 2020 to mark the 55th Anniversary of the foundation of Din l-Art Ħelwa and is awarded to the best winner overall in all categories.
The 1930s, 15m high Water Tower structure, with a tank having a capacity of 400 cubic m, was set for demolition in 2010, due to its severe state of degradation. The case was made for its conservation as unique industrial heritage, and the structure was brought back into operation as Industrial Heritage in use, following intense research, restoration and validation leading to its re-commissioning. The complex restoration project led to its Scheduling as a Grade 1 National Monument in 2022.
The Water Tower conservation project required specialist solutions, including historic documentation, non-destructive testing and materials analysis, finite element modelling, construction of replica structures and advanced restoration techniques including electrochemical chloride extraction, polymer-based materials repair, epoxy injection and section reinstatement among other interventions. The Project included the development of new self-healing high-strength fibre reinforced ultra-high durability concrete, carbon-fibre textile concrete and advanced composite materials, together with an advanced sensor network system for the durability, structural health and environmental monitoring of the structure.
The Water Tower Conservation Project was led by Perit Prof. Ruben Paul Borg, with the support of the Civil Engineering Materials & Structural Health Monitoring Research Group, the Horizon 2020 Project ReSHEALience (Rethinking coastal defence and Green-Energy Service infrastructures through enHancEd-durAbiLIty high-performance fibre reinforced cement-based materials) in Ultra High Durability Concrete; the Public Abattoir, Ministry for Agriculture Fisheries, Food and Animal Rights and the Planning Authority. Prof. Ruben Paul Borg, Faculty for the Built Environment and Prof. Edward Gatt Faculty for ICT collaborated in the development of an advanced sensor network system based on 150 sensors, and the setting up of a new University of Malta Research and Industry Platform in advanced materials and structural monitoring, at the Water Tower in Marsa Malta.
The XVI edition of the Awards was an initiative of Din l-Art Ħelwa, intended to support architectural excellence in Malta, for the rehabilitation and reuse of heritage buildings and the recognition of the dedicated work in the field of restoration. The Award presented for the Water Tower Restoration marks an important development and supports the case for a greater appreciation of Industrial Heritage and Heritage in Concrete in Malta.