Architecture by architect – Sliema’s built heritage celebrated with faces
Morphing from a mere fishing village at the start of the 19th century to the idyllic seaside resort it had matured into after the last war, who would have thought that Sliema would be the Maltese Islands’ most desirable place to be? Property owners hailing mainly from the steaming walled harbour cities wanted fresh, new houses and airy roads, built with elegance and gusto; the deep blue sea practically at their porch, indeed The Front. To this end architects having a flair for design, infused with a command of international trends were engaged. Lengths of the growing town’s streets became a veritable battleground of these capable periti each expressing their fondness and disdain for different styles that had taken Europe by storm at the turn of the last century.
Today beleaguered as it is with incessant demolition and concreting, Sliema soldiers on as clearly a victim of its own success, and of course dubious planning. The legacy left by these long-dead architects has suffered tremendously. These men whom history has dusted over must be recognised as pioneers and this lecture celebrates them through their precious work. Architecture by architect is an ongoing project steered by the speaker at taking stock of Sliema’s myriad of styles, something which despite the many losses the town can still, believe it or not, boast the greatest diversity nationwide.
In his delivery Edward Said will introduce the personas behind a selection of architectural pieces some of which are considered icons of design movements which were short-lived, endemic and today endangered. Despite the piques and squabbles between colleagues, aesthetic boards and of course clients, the ensemble was well-mannered and elegant, all caringly mastered by the humble mason, crafted in our signature honey-coloured limestone.
At a time when bland construction has pushed aside good architecture, the ultimate aim of this research is to ensure that awareness thrives, and more protection follows.
Edward Said is an architect by profession, specialising in building conservation and a student of Maltese architectural history. He was a founding member of the Sliema Heritage Society which in 2010 was set up in a bid to foster an appreciation about the town architectural patrimony. The society works closely with the Sliema Local Council and other entities in this regard.