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Feature: Exceptional new entertainment hub in the south

11/06/12


When it opens, it will be bringing together Malta’s colours, textures and stone on the Ricasoli shoreline. 
 
An exceptional location offering a unique lagoon landscape is slowly but surely crystallising on the Ricasoli shoreline. The creation of an enormous man-made lagoon will soon be completed, together with an entertainment area, ready to welcome everyone. 
 
Rowena West, senior associate of Dubaibased Cracknell, the British firm with a world-wide reputation for landscape architecture and urban design, told this paper that the planning of the area took advantage of the Mediterranean Sea in the background and brings together the colours, textures and materials of Malta for an authentic Maltese look and feel. 
 
The area has been designed to include a lush garden and several distinctive features, the principle one of which is the vast staircase, that ends in an amphitheatre and that has been designed to cleverly bring together the romance of Rome’s Spanish Steps and the character of Valletta’s historic stepped streets, allowing ample space for large-scale events or simply for relaxing on and enjoying the magnificent vista of the lagoon and the stunning Mediterranean Sea beyond. Other features are a lush, tree-lined promenade and a boulevard. 
 
This lifestyle area is designed to be the hub of events not only for the companies and residents of SmartCity Malta but for visitors to the area. Coffee shops, restaurants and terraces will turn it into an area where life happens and society meets. 
 
“Our challenges in design were the context and aesthetics of the place,” said Ms West. “The Mediterranean Sea offered the perfect backdrop, which we extended by incorporating the lagoon, mixing the man-made water body feature with the natural setting.” 
 
Ms West said the Grand Steps are likewise intended to bring people together and make the area their meeting place. The steps may also seat an audience of 1,000 people for events in the amphitheatre at the bottom of the steps. 
 
The lagoon also incorporates spectacular animated fountains. It blends into the landscape like a bay and is encircled by a 300metre promenade, lined with pines and palm trees, which enhance its Mediterranean feel. 
 
The levels of the project have also been manipulated to give a better sense of uniqueness. The lagoon’s pure form contrasts with the wilderness of the sea. Floating platforms also extend over the lagoon for a closer feel of the animated water. 
 
“The idea is to give visitors an experience of Malta’s outdoor living in a contemporary and up-to-date design that shows off the island’s colours, textures and stone in an way that is SmartCity Malta’s very own,” said Ms West. 
 
Cracknell is the leading landscape creator in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Jeddah. “When we came to Malta,” said Ms West, “We were entranced by the potentiality of the site, the view of the sea reflected in the lagoon and the possibilities that creating space for the public all around the lagoon and out to the shoreline offered. 
 
The space can be used for getting people to socialise in the various restaurants around the lagoon but it can also be used to hold events centred around the stage at the bottom of the Grand Steps. 
 
Access to the area is and will remain completely free and people are already discovering the attractions and beauty of SmartCity Malta, which is complimented by the vast amount of parking space. 
 
All this is aimed at realising SmartCity’s vision of getting people together not just to work but also to socialise and make new friends. It not only encapsulates this vision but also promotes in a unique way what Malta can offer its visitors and residents – not just sun and sea, nor just historical buildings, but a unique experience that is unrepeatable anywhere else.