Starting Over

For many people, a property that is a mish-mash of ages and design style, with much of it in need of demolition, would not be at all appealing, but for architect Daniel Scerri, Senior Architect at Daniel Scerri Periti, it was an exciting challenge and one that gave him the opportunity to call upon his 20 years of architectural knowledge to create his own family home.
The property’s original two stone rooms date back to the very early 17th century and over the many years since, more has been added including a first floor, and post Second World War, a new staircase, kitchen and bathroom. ‘The last work was done in the 1960s and the owner’s intention then was to turn it into a townhouse rather than a house of character,’ says Daniel.

‘The result was a rather messy and eclectic architectural style in which most accretions needed to be removed to get back the original character – but its appeal lay precisely in this; it meant half the house could be removed and rebuilt in style.’

And this he has done. Today, the three-bedroom home features a new extension that was deliberately built abutting an old wing with the long stone wall that once split the house transformed into a design feature. ‘The old was meticulously restored, and all new construction worked around this, contrasting with the original, which enhanced the character of both parts even more,’ says Daniel.
As with all traditional properties, the problem of humidity had to be overcome; Daniel raised the entire structure onto a new ventilated floor which draws both the humidity down from the existing old walls and the rising damp from the ground, expelling the moisture-rich air via a series of ventilation pipes linked to the facade, garden and roof. Above the raised flooring, an additional waterproofing layer and insulation gives further protection, along with insulation on the new walls and ceilings.
Daniel also thought carefully about the impact of the sun on the property, precisely angling the cantilevered projections on the south-facing facade so they shade the house from the scorching summer sun but allow the winter sun to reach right into the property, passively warming it during the colder months. ‘The home’s internal temperature all year round is between 18 and 25 degrees Celsius, without the use of mechanised heating or cooling,’ says Daniel.
The interior design is texture rich with the palette chosen to complement both the old and the new. Raw timber, rough to the touch, was used for custom-designed furniture, and exposed structural steel is teamed with visually rich materials such as textured wallpaper and walls, paint and luxuriously thick fabrics. ‘I really wanted to play with the senses, to create a wish to touch the walls and give a feast for the eyes with a contrast of layers and textures,’ says Daniel.
Thought was also given to the garden, the design incorporating the four Classical Greek elements of earth, represented by the rubble wall, water (the pool), wind (the effect on the sheer curtains) and fire (an outdoor fireplace within a backlit Onyx focal wall which glows in the evening). ‘I also wanted to give a Zen feel to the sheltered garden, with contrasting textures and allowing the blooming of flowers in different seasons for a degree of colour, shade and scents all year round,’ says Daniel.
What was it like designing your own home after years of doing it for others? ‘It’s easier and it’s harder at the same time,’ Daniel replies. ‘There is one fewer decision-making entity so the concept doesn’t get watered down or changed so it becomes a matter of persistence to find or custom design every piece of the project towards the original concept target. I was lucky enough that my wife has a very good architectural sense and we went ahead with practically the whole original design.’

 


MAIN WORKS:
Construction: S. Spagnol Construction Ltd.
Rendering & Finishes: Salvu Galea
Apertures: Framegrip Ltd.
Bathrooms and Flooring: Farrell Bathrooms
Plumbing & Electrics: Rennie Azzopardi
Marbleworks: RLautier – The Natural Stone Workshop
Decking: Deckor
Custom-built furniture: Studio Moda Group