On 30th November 2007, Din l-Art Helwa announced Maurice de Giorgio, Executive Chairman of Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti, as the winner of the 2007 Architectural Heritage Award for his exceptional and significant contribution to Maltese cultural heritage and the achievement of architectural excellence in Malta with the outstanding restoration of Palazzo Falson and its meticulous conversion to a House Museum.
President Emeritus Professor Guido de Marco presented Maurice de Giorgio with the 2007 Silver Medal. In describing the merit for the Award, Martin Scicluna, Vice-President of Din l-Art Helwa, spoke of the work at Palazzo Falson as one of outstanding perseverance and commitment, carried out with the most caring attention to detail and following the highest criteria of conservation.
The creation of this annual prestigious Architectural Heritage Award Scheme was conceived by Din l-Art Helwa as a way of encouraging architects, developers and other persons to aim for architectural excellence in a Maltese context in the restoration of old buildings and their adaptation to a modern use, as well as to encourage good modern architecture in conservation areas with projects that capture a sense of place, balance, proportion, scale and beauty. In announcing the winners Martin Scicluna said that this year’s entries were most encouraging and encompassed a range of projects, embracing both the government Works Division and the private sector, with both traditional and modern schemes of extremely high standard.
Din l-Art Helwa also announced that there were two runners up in the scheme this year and awarded Diplomas to architect Chris Briffa for his creation and restoration of 2-22 restaurant in Valletta, a most imaginative rehabilitation, re-use and adaptation into a commercial outlet of a space within Valletta’s historic fortifications, and to architect Hermann Bonnici of the Restoration Unit for his excellent restoration of the important, historic seventeenth-century Sarria church dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Floriana, a project which was carried out with thorough scientific research analysis and professional documentation..
Such were the high standards and level of competition this year that Din l-Art Helwa and the judging panel found the project submitted by Amanda de Giovanni from the Restoration Unit worthy of a Letter of Commendation for the work carried out at the chapels of St. Basil and St. Michael in Mqabba. The judging panel was most struck by the attractive conservation of these two, respectively, medieval and seventeenth-century chapels, which were completed within a limited budget and with restricted resources.
Concluding his presentation, Martin Scicluna said the standards of this year’s applications made Malta proud of its indigenous architecture, and were an example of the benchmark standards at which all architects should aim. He commended the Chamber of Architects for its recent proposal for the setting up of a national centre for the built environment, stating that it was enlightened, imaginative and greatly to be encouraged. However, while Din l-Art Helwa was completely in agreement with the standards proposed, there was still a huge gap in current architectural practices with many examples of ugly, intrusive architecture that destroys its surroundings, rather than architecture that is adapted to its surroundings. He appealed to the authorities and to all architects to strive for the return to visual harmony so we could continue to beautify rather than ‘uglify’ the country.