Richard England Collab.
Award winning architect Richard England has always firmly believed that architecture must not only accommodate its functional aspects but more so it must enhance the spirit, and elevate the soul of its users. He has often quoted Tennessee William’s words ‘I don’t want reality, I want magic’ stating that his philosophy is that the job of the architect is to make the ordinary extraordinary.
Embracing a regional approach with specific reference to place, memory and the zeitgeist of the age, England’s inspiration stems from the rich millennial mnemonic layering of his native land; from the Neolithic, through the resplendent architecture of the 16th , 17th and 18th centuries together with that of the ethnic vernacular typology.
Manikata Church I
The Church of St Joseph in the Village of Manikata is an architectural icon and is the first major commission of Architect Richard England, given to him by his father upon his return from studies in the studio of Gio Ponti in Milan, the church breaks away from the Baroque influenced churches that precede it, and in turn explores a regional approach, drawing inspiration from the prehistoric temples and the traditional farming Girna.
The church was built by the local farming community of the hamlet and to this day the church serves as a central beacon for the village people’s faith.
Manikata Church II
The building transforms throughout the day with a beautiful play on light and shade, walking through the space from one area to the next is an enchanting experience. The colours of the walls intensify as the day turns to night, emanating a warm glow from the church.
For the second print of the collaboration, we wanted to capture the flow that one experiences when roaming around the outdoor area of the church, the way the shadows wrap around the central part of the building follows the journey from the tight entrance out into the vast area that follows. The inclusion of limestone boulders adds to adhering the building to its’ surroundings.
Built in 1983, Aquasun Lido, is the second subject from our collaboration with Architect Richard England. This dream-like public space makes use of geometric forms that serve as a testament to the new leaf approach endorsed by England.
The lido is designed as a Mediterranean theatrical stage-set making clever use of archaic typologies that reflect off the pool serving as a water mirror that juxtaposes between reality and imagination.
Dar il-Ħanin Samaritan I
If ever there was an example of Richard England’s works that show his most playful side, it is definitely Dar il-Ħanin Samaritan Meditation Garden, in Santa Venera. This space of exploration, serenity, silence, light and shade offers the perfect haven for meditation and prayer. The garden transforms from what is a masterclass of form and proportion during the day into a nocturnal dreamscape that tantalises the senses. The use of light to enrich the forms and colours adorning the space are further accentuated by the sound of water flowing out of the framed feature fountain. Described as a theatre for the soul more than a stage for the body Dar il-Ħanin Samaritan is an architectural work perfectly that captures the spirit of Richard England’s work beautifully.
This dreamlike space lends itself perfectly to a night time scene. This particular image, captures the journey concept of the gardens, with a clear pathway to the end arcaded water fountain. The colours and light show of Dar il-Ħanin Samaritan, transform the garden into an ethereal sanctuary for prayer and reflection during the night.
Dar il-Ħanin Samaritan II
This area of Dar il-Ħanin Samaritan whilst featuring a less use of colour, dazzles through its use of form, to create a stark contrast to the bold use of colour utilized further down the garden. This use of neutral colours, coupled with the bold use of red accents adds to the sequential nature of experiencing the Gardens.
A neutral example in terms of colour, the bold use of interesting forms in this area of Dar il-Ħanin Samaritan captivates and is a celebration of the visual language of Richard England. It serves as a reference to all of his work, and combines all the factions of his aesthetic in a way that overwhelms the visitor.
Chapel of St Andrew
The Chapel of St Andrew was originally built by German prisoners stationed in Malta after the Second World War. After the departure of British forces stationed in Malta in 1979, the chapel fell into disuse. It was in the late 80s that Richard England was commissioned to restore and offer a new lease of life to this disused chapel.
The result, was a contemplative garden adorned with geometric forms in strong Mediterranean chromatic tones. The presence of mature trees added to this welcoming garden, creating an intermediary link between the outdoor exterior and the sacred interior of the Chapel.
Later on, in the late 90s, the chapel was demolished to make way for a larger church needed to accommodate the larger number of residents living in the area.
What remains is the memory of a chapel that celebrates a regional approach to Maltese architecture through the use of geometry, and colour.
Razzett ta Sandrina I
This converted traditional farmhouse called ir-Razzett ta Sandrina, shows an elegant play between the vernacular and the mystical iconography that is everpresent in Richard England work.
The internal courtyard adds to the romantic fantasy of princesses, regal palaces and castles. A perfect play-area for the young family’s children.
The sun bleached colours, and interplay of light and shade found in the courtyard of Razzett ta’ Sandrina create a somewhat familiar yet novel view of a vernacular building that has been brought into the present day. The use of form, the stair tower and the limestone boulders that occupy the recessed flower bed all add to the mystique of the courtyard.
Razzett ta Sandrina II
The elevated pool area of Razzett ta’ Sandrina offers views of the countryside and sea. The freestanding arcades, continue the visual language seen throughout the farmhouse. The use of sun-washed surfaces further add to the juxtaposed mirror effect that the water offers.
The iconic scene of the pool area, with the use of geometric forms encapsulating breathtaking views in their negative space, offers a unique interplay, as well as further adding to the mythical playfulness of the whole scheme.
A Garden for Myriam I
This private garden situated in the Richard England’s private residence serves as an ode to his beloved wife Myriam. The garden, a mix of soothing colours and tones, serves as a space for tranquility and serenity away from the normal preoccupations of a hectic day to day lifestyle.
As with all uses of water seen in Richard England’s work we have another examples of the use of reflection to create visual duality, adding a second mirror view to the real dance of form and colour of the surrounding area.
A Garden for Myriam II
The Garden for Myriam serves as a space for serenity for Richard England and his wife Myriam. The garden is housed around a perimeter of rounded arches, which encapsulate of the space.
The Garden for Myriam in architect Richard England’s home, is a glimpse into the importance for solitude and serenity. It is a locus that allows the architect and his wife to disconnect from the every day hustle that comes with daily life. Further to the function of this space, is the use of balanced geometry, as well as references to the local prehistoric temples, an architectural approach that evolves from the sprouting of a new leaf as opposed to creation of a new tree.
This residence in Siġġiewi in Malta, another of Richard England’s works, continues to delve further into his penchant for geometry and the vibrant use of colour. The cylindrical forms, perfectly balancing the original rigid harshness of the buildings’ vernacular structure.
This residence in Siġġiewi, built in 1994 is another example of Richard England’s ability to find an enriching balance between function and form. The pool area seen in this illustration, with it’s signature forms is another of the dreamlike spaces that England has created over the years.
Ramla Bay Hotel
The Ramla Bay Hotel, built in 1964, comes at a period early on in Richard England’s illustrious career whereby he designed and saw the construction of 9 hotels in the span of 10 years, firm foundations for Richard England’s exploration of his regional architecture philosophy.
With the country going through the tourism growth spurt of the 60s, the construction of such hotel resorts was the perfect chance for an architectural statement of intent for the country. In the midst of a modernist era, the hotels built in this period, really strike a balance between function and form that draws its influence from its vernacular roots.
St James Cavalier
St James Cavalier, completed in 2000 is one of the flagship projects designed by Richard England. The conversion of a war machine into a space for creative celebration, adopts a philosophy of layering, and the ability to relate the narrative and story of the building through the ages.
This new lease of life for the fortress still stands intact today. Exploring St James Cavalier, one can read the mnemonic layering and whole story of this fort through its ages.
The atrium of St James Cavalier, formerly a water cistern, has now been transformed into a skylit courtyard, offering the viewer an overwhelming and somewhat magical ascending view of the buildings’ inner core.
The bridge links the upper galleries with access to the lift down to the lower galleries, a feature of the space that has become synonymous with numerous art installations over the years, a true testament to the conversion of this fortress into a space of creative celebration.
St Francis of Assisi Church
The Church of St Francis of Assisi in Qawra, stands boldly as a landmark of the locality. With bold, sculptural tectonic forms, freestanding walls and perforated screens, this work by Richard England, lead’s the viewer inward with the use of triangular forms layered on a round core structure.
The complex layering and use of geometry that makes up this church in Qawra, leads the viewer in and around it’s perimeter. The distinct towers and use of round and triangular forms read as contemporary evocations of the complex baroque churches of past masters.
University of Malta I
The University of Malta extension, completed in 1991, is to be considered Richard England’s largest work that can be found on the Maltese islands.
The vernacular references, mediterranean colours and geometric forms that adorn the corridors and open spaces of this project all contribute to an experience that elevates that mind and reminds the viewer of the local history as well as inspires for the future.
The Gateway building, part of the University extension design by Richard England, has, over the years, become the iconic image of the University of Malta. It is the first entrance, and view that students experience when entering their studies.
The use of round geometric forms, references to vernacular and two over arching towers all add to the visual language one absorbs when walking through the entire complex of the University of Malta.
University of Malta II
The labyrinth of corridors and open spaces found at the University of Malta extension, all flow seamlessly, with multiple references to the many architectural periods of the Maltese island, a philosophy .
This mnemonic layering, a staple of Richard England’s architectural philosophy is ever present in this example of his work. It is a place that one goes to learn and be inspired. The use of a regional yet modern visual language all contribute to this mindset.
This, the final illustration from our collaboration with architect Richard England, shows the duality of function and form found at the University of Malta. A project, that combines the firm function of a utilitarian place of education and the soul of the place, echoing the past of the islands. Creating a sense of place.