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Celebrated architect Ian Ritchie releases book detailing Farsons brewery transformation 6/27/2023

Celebrated architect Ian Ritchie releases book detailing Farsons brewery transformation

‘A low-rise tonic for the high-rise craze’: Leading architects debate Malta’s architectural future at Farsons

A new publication detailing the rich history and innovative transformation of the iconic Farsons brewery was launched on Tuesday evening, with an engaging discussion between leading architects on the project and the state of architecture in Malta. 

Published by the UK-based publishing house Unicorn, the book, titled "Renewal Architects: The Transformation of Farsons Brewery Malta," offers new insights into the design philosophy behind both The Brewhouse and Trident Park projects, both of which are also being inaugurated this week.

The two stunning projects have seen one of Malta’s finest 20th-century industrial sites transformed into a vibrant green office campus and world-class business destination.

Spearheaded by ritchie*studio, led by the renowned architect Ian Ritchie, in collaboration with Alex Torpiano's engineering-focused Maltese practice TBA Periti, and environmental physicist Doug King, the transformation of the iconic Art Deco site was inspired by Maltese palace gardens and the island's vernacular buildings.

In an opening address, Farsons Group Chairman Louis A. Farrugia described the project as “a masterpiece of form, light, shade, sustainability, and environmental engineering”.

“Architects possess the unique ability to shape the physical environment that surrounds us,” Mr Farrugia said.

“They craft spaces that inspire, engage, and uplift our spirits. The Brewhouse and Trident Park embody this vision, seamlessly harmonizing with nature and setting a new standard for future projects.”

“The architects who create these places that we inhabit, shape the physical environment that surrounds us. They create spaces that inspire, engage, and uplift our spirits. In their hands, steel, glass, and concrete become conduits for human expression and collective experiences,” he said.

“This is particularly true of The Brewhouse and Trident Park – sustainable structures that harmonize so effortlessly with nature and I feel have set a new standard for future projects to aspire to.”

The book launch held on Tuesday evening at Trident Park took the form of an engaging discussion between leading architects, engineers, and thinkers. 

The discussion was moderated by Paul Finch OBE, Founder and Programme Director of the World Architecture Festival, and former editor of the Architects' Journal and Architectural Review.

Professor Richard England, a renowned architect, artist, poet, and author, introduced the event.

He said the low-lying Trident Park building and regenerated 1950s Farsons brewery – a masterly and iconic example of an early reinforced concrete industrial structure – are powerful antidotes to Malta’s current trend towards high-rise structures.

These, he said, were often built by developers with little regard or respect for the island’s historical low-lying skyline. 

“It’s a long time since I visited a building in Malta which made me smile, today I really did smile,” he said.  

“Trident Park and The Brewhouse are examples of thinking globally but acting locally.”  

Prof England was later joined in a panel by Prof Ritchie whose London-based practice has received over 100 national and international awards.

He has worked on world-famous projects including; The Louvre Pyramids and Sculpture Courts and La Villette Science City in Paris, The Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art in Madrid, The Dublin Spire, and now The Brewhouse and Trident Park in Malta.

Prof Ritchie said the project is the culmination of collaboration with various partners, not least of whom were the clients who played a central role throughout. 

He said the book not only celebrates the history of the site, but the journey of reimaging and reinventing the space. 

“We have in this book, the background and context of families involved in creating wonderful buildings, and wonderful beer. The book is about the optimism of being able to do projects like this,” he said.  

Prof Ritchie also explained how one of the major challenges of regenerating the original site was not knowing what lay beneath the surface of its concrete structures. 

Meanwhile, the discussion included Michael Farrugia, Director of SFC plc and Trident Estates plc, who led the transformative projects of The Brewhouse and Trident Park.

Mr Farrugia detailed the lengthy regeneration process which first began in 2004.

“What we wanted was a partner who shared our vision and hopes for this space. After a very lengthy process, we found the perfect team,” he said.

Joining Farrugia was Professor Alex Torpiano, Dean of the Faculty for the Built Environment and director of TBA Periti.

Prof Torpiano described the original brewery as a masterpiece of concrete.

“The challenge was to create heritage when you are restoring heritage,” he said.   

Professor Doug King, an accomplished chartered engineer, physicist, environmentalist, and innovator, was the final member of the panel to join in the discussion. 

“Coming to Malta, it quickly becomes evident that societies with constrained resources need to become resourceful - they need to design and build with resourcefulness rather than an excess of resources,” Prof King said. 

‘Renewal Architects: The Transformation of Farsons Brewery Malta’ is available at the Farsons Brand Store for €40.