Things and places could just lie in disrepair for decades: motionless and decaying. As they lie there, taking on unwelcome intruders, environmental attack and corrosion, they long for somebody to re-establish a need to use them. Inanimate objects may not really be just that. They interact with each other and us to give us an experience. But it takes time, effort and investment to bring about a force of transformation over these objects. This force of change is something that takes courage to grapple with. And our urban fabric requires evermore an effective force with the right skills to bring about the change we all require to live better. In relation to these skills time is a particular variable. Projects can have definitive targets and take a very short time, and others may be more indefinite requiring their own time. From six weeks to six months to a year or four the relative timing of a project to the potential lifetime becomes almost indistinguishable.
Rather convoluted and prior home to several animals in dark humid rooms in the original courtyard, this farmhouse was left to its own devices for a long time. Flaking paint, crumbling walls, decay: all present at the outset. The determining force of change took form in a couple of two professionals, who could start getting a hint that changing the purpose of this place was possible. Their brief meant that the crowded courtyard buildings had to go, and that the entrance could act as a key axis from the inside, to the pool area and back to an indoor space, a lure of sorts creating a suggested path to follow. On either side of the entrance, and in synchronicity to the view lines to the outside, storage cabinets doubling up as sources of light were designing to add functionality to the space: coat hanger, storage, key holders, mood light and service cabinet. To the left a generous study was created and to the right a two car garage that opens up onto the pool area.
Through a corridor balanced by arches subtending the view from the kitchen to the ever present courtyard and pool area, a movable timber panel conceals the guest sanitary facilities. The kitchen dining are integrated and flow onto a cosy living room and in turn into a Mediterranean interpretation of a conservatory that is well shaded and at the same time opens up generously to the outside courtyard extending its functionality in summer, and providing a cosy inside space, with the illusion of being outside in the winter. The courtyard affords access around the pool to a raised timber deck, lifting sunbeds up to the sun and allowing the pool to be a more spacious volume of water. As one travels round the pool to this deck, the retrospective view becomes clear. A new, sharp mass hangs in the balance over a fulcrum column. And as the new presence stands proportionately in the void of the courtyard, it provides hidden visual links to the pool and the sky from the bed of the third bedroom that inhabits this volume. You could sleep over water and beneath clear skies here.
Whilst all service arrangements are carefully catered for in an all but invisible service core, we ascend through the restored staircase that has had its landings replaced to glazed and artificially illuminated ones to inject natural light all the way down to ground floor from the carefully positioned skylight above. The Main bathroom suite is the epitome of space with 53m² flowing from a plush bedroom with mini-lounge to a real dressing room, to a bathing room with freestanding bath, separate shower and WC and integrated vanity, set on a timber floor setting warmth and cosiness contrasting with the carefully chosen restored limestone walls and other plastered and painted ones. Two other bedrooms with ensuites provide great amenity and getting to the roof one is exposed to a view of the village church as well as a bird’s eye view over the coaxed volumes in the courtyard below.MJMDA | Matthew James Mercieca Design Architects Words: Matthew J. Mercieca Special thanks to: Calamatta Landscapes, BoConcept, Brands International