A Superior Blend

I first found myself in the Coach House nine years ago, in the very early days of its transformation. It had been snapped up by friends of mine – a couple who fell for it the moment they saw it and made an offer on their first viewing. Already its potential was palpable.
In the years that have followed, their relationship with the Coach House has certainly been tested but their vision for it never wavered. As testament to that, it stands now as a proud and respectful contemporary icon in the centre of Balzan – refreshing proof that it is both possible, and pleasing, for the new to be blended with the old.
And there is no escaping the Coach House’s history. It is thought to have primarily served as a service building connected to Palazzo Bosio, which was built in the 18th century for Vincenzo Bosio, Commandant of the Knights of the Order of St John, as his own residential quarters. The property is now composed of an outer set of buildings adjacent to the palazzo.
The transformation was organised around the need to preserve the functional nature of the building while accommodating the requests of the new owners. In order to turn what used to be a one-storey service building into a home, an extension was designed and grafted on the perimeter wall of the pre-existing structure. The extensions and their structural interventions were carried out in a way to ensure the protection of the existing building and the reversibility of new additions wherever possible. Today, the volume of the main extension sits exactly on the perimeter of the pre-existing building.
‘The Coach House is the result of an approach which combines vernacular building technologies with contemporary design and which takes into account the needs of today’s highly demanding environment while preserving our unique built heritage,’ explains David Drago, the executive director of AP.
‘These incredible results are also down to the passion our clients had for following through on their vision. We hope this project will serve as a relevant case study on how we can preserve our built heritage while keeping it alive.’
The homeowners themselves are thrilled with the results of the project – a venture that certainly had its fair share of ups and downs. ‘Just getting going was a huge challenge,’ they recall. ‘Because the house is a Grade I listed building, it took two-and-a-half years to secure the permit, which meant works didn’t start until 2012. Financing it was also tough as, in retrospect, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into!’
Today, though, the hard-slog was worth it and their vision has been substantiated by the growing list of accolades the house has received – as well as their own enjoyment of it. ‘Our favourite space is the mill room – which has actually changed very little since we first bought it. It is very bright and, by day, it’s lovely to be able to throw open the doors and windows onto the gardens on both sides of the outside, and to incorporate the indoors and outdoors. Although we’re right in the heart of the village, the house is extremely private and quiet – we barely even heard a thing during the recent festa!
‘Now, when we look back on what we wanted from the Coach House, I think we have achieved it and more. It is a contemporary home that embraces the very best of the present while staying resolutely true to the past. We are proud to have respected that past, while also making it very much our own.’