Since 1991, AP Valletta’s work seeks to transform attitudes towards the built environment: from short-termist property speculation to positive re-imagination of heritage, with interventions that deliver lasting societal value. This is most evident in our public projects such as Barrakka Lift and the Dock 1 regeneration, and in our research revolving around sustainable heritage, for which we were shortlisted in the Heritage-led Innovation category of the Europa Nostra-Ilucidare Awards 2021.
Car-space-by-car-space is structured as a provocative catalogue of modules imagining alternative uses for the standard 11sqm of a car space, and challenging the parameters that define our cities by doing so. The car has been one of the main parameters for the organisation of urban spaces since its appearance, that needs to be questioned in this moment of crisis of the status quo. Car-space-by-car-space does it by questioning the hierarchal organisation of our cities which prioritise cars over people, and by exploring alternative scenarios for post-Covid public urban areas, starting from the grids that shape them: both the primary grid on which Malta’s capital city Valletta was built and the secondary grids that organise spaces within the primary one. In the case of Valletta, the borders of the primary grid are generally organised by the secondary grids of carparks or occupied by trafficked roads, embedded in 16th century bastions overlooking the Mediterranean sea. St. Michael’s bastion carpark is a primary example; when it was emptied by the Covid emergency, we took it as an opportunity to test alternative futures for the densely urbanised Maltese heritage, re-imagining it car space by car space – literally. The exploration of potential new uses of the 11 sqm of a car space led to a catalogue of 12 modules that range from temporary shelter to performance space. The modularity and the simplicity of the catalogue, inspired by Enzo Mari, make it adaptable to any urban scenario, at any scale: a single car park in a side street could turn into a stage for a performance, just like St. Michael’s carpark could offer new outdoor working spaces for the surrounding offices. By combining the modules in different ways in relation to specific contexts, the car-space-by-car space catalogue makes use of the grid while breaking its rigidity, dismantling the hierarchy of urban centralisation, traditionally revolving around the privileged city centre and the use of the car.