Leaving the hustle and bustle of nearby Mosta for the open vistas that can be enjoyed from the outskirts of San Pawl Tat-Targa is not much of a journey in physical terms. For the homeowners of this monochromatic, sleek, semi-detached bungalow, it was definitely a new, leaner chapter, with a shift focus towards calm and wellbeing. ‘The family wanted a home that would encourage them to relax a little more, to encourage peace of mind and simplicity,’ explains architect Matthew Mercieca of MJMDA who took charge of the project, Sliding Doors.
Upon entering the property through the white gate, a decked pathway leads up a few steps to the front door. Recessed from the main road and low-rising, the Sliding doors house with its grey façade, ceramic large format cladding, and barely-there kitchen balcony, is a picture of discreet, pared-back style.
A quick glimpse to the left reveals the cool, blue of the swimming pool, surrounded by manicured greenery, with composite decking for lounging and dining located towards the rear of the outdoor area. The sun amplifies the external blues and greens against the muted shades of the cladded walls, making them electric in their vibrancy.
Once inside, the entire space can immediately be spied through to the elongated window that looks out onto the rear garden. Inside its cooler and the light softer through sheer curtains. Here, the front room is partially split into two spaces by a solid, sliding unit made of carefully stained oak veneer,
part of the home’s muted palette of greys and browns, the only flourish of colour to be found in the soft furnishings and paintings.
‘We wanted something to move alongside the main axis of the house, as if it were separating the two metaphorical aspects of the brain,’ says Matthew, explaining the thinking behind the sliding unit. ‘The sliding wall and storage unit gives the user control over the visibility and connection one has
between the kitchen on one side and the dining/living area on the other. It’s a sort of veil between the two that can be used in different social conditions and company.’
The back half of the house comprises two bedrooms, one of which has a stowaway bed unit so the room can be utilised and enjoyed more freely. The basement has a flatlet of sorts, with a large bedroom and kitchenette, as well as containing a garage and various facility areas.
This use of the downstairs space enabled the architects to focus on achieving a timeless effect with their choice of layout and materials for the interiors on the ground floor – clean lines and a minimal but softened core, natural, good quality materials using different marbles, from statuarietto to
grey stone to slate, and meticulously stained veneers and parquets.
Sumptuous wood was used for the living/dining area, whilst matt gunmetal grey, quasi floor-to-ceiling perpendicular panels line the kitchen back wall, with a central island made of marble. A repetition of panelling means the eye is drawn to the select pieces, such as the egg-like reading chair in leather by BoConcept, and the striking Flos floor lamp designed by Philippe Starck.
There’s a strong sense of connectivity within the space, created by the repetition of materials used. Matthew talks about how the concept of the brain as metaphor for the design of the house developed into contrasting hard and soft, warm and cold, focused and relaxed, to create a harmonious balance.
The homeowner is quick to point out just how different it is to live here, compared to their previous home. ‘It’s about simplicity, and the optimisation of function and form,’ she says. Decluttering and replacing their old furnishings with the move, their new living space offers generous storage, enabling them to live in a decluttered zone, with all the usual bits and bobs of daily life hidden away covered by sliding doors.
The raised terrace at the front of the house commands a long-distance panorama all the way to Gozo. ‘On really clear days you can see Sicily from here,’ continues the homeowner. It’s easy to understand why minimising on space and clutter, and focusing on pure form and texture creates freedom, privacy and ultimately wellbeing’.