The Valletta Design Cluster – a Gift to the Valletta Community and the Nation

Friday, March 12, 2021

Creatives working in the field of design have a new place to turn to for support and inspiration: the Valletta Design Cluster (VDC), a creative hub housed in what was once a slaughterhouse and now reborn as a community space that enables innovation, entrepreneurship and design projects that have a social impact.

This project goes way beyond the restoration of an abandoned building, however. In the words of the Chairman of the Valletta Cultural Agency, Jason Micallef, “The Valletta Design Cluster is an important gift to the Valletta community and to the nation. What we have done goes beyond the restoration of brick and mortar: we have given life to a whole neighbourhood.” The VDC, which is a Valletta 2018 legacy project, is intended to be a cradle of innovation and a celebration of design in all its forms.

The Manager of this hub, Caldon Mercieca, describes it as “a much-needed space for those who are taking their initial steps within the cultural and creative scene … designed to empower beginners, open spaces for exchange and provide a safe platform for experimentation.” It is also a space that values and encourages community diversity and collaboration.

The old abattoir building was redesigned in a way that encourages - practically calls for - collaboration and the exchange of ideas.  A great deal of thought and planning went into designing workspaces that allow the users - entrepreneurs, seasoned artists, students and locals – to work closely side by side, when they wish, but also have the opportunity to work on their own, if they prefer.  In the words of the CEO of the Valletta Cultural Agency, Catherine  Tabone, “Users can access tools, equipment, and spaces, to learn, share their knowledge, and take their organisations forward. Whether still a student or an established practitioner, these new facilities are available to assist design-related organisations in the fulfilment of their aspirations.”

At the heart of the Valletta Design Cluster is the courtyard, once an open area but now covered with a retractable glass canopy that turns it into an all-season multifunctional space. The courtyard is flanked by a coworking space and lounge area that offers 20 work stations and is equipped with all the necessary plug-in services and a video-conferencing room.  Complementing this space is a community meeting space on the first floor which comprises small consultation rooms and an 80-seat conference room.

Also available is a workshop, known as the maker space, that is equipped with tools and equipment for metalworking, woodworking and computer-aided design, among other skills. 

Collaborations can also flourish in the food space comprising a fully-equipped kitchen, a café area, a canteen and nine food preparation stations.

For those who wish, or need to, work in private there are also 15 work studios that can be leased. These are fully private spaces ideal for creative or social start-ups that stand to benefit from the support and guidance which will be offered to all the organisations that form part of this hub

The designers of the Valletta Design Cluster have also gifted the city of Valletta with a new public garden.  The garden features mostly indigenous shrubs and covers the full roof space over the main building.  It comprises a pavilion, a small pond, a kids’ area and seating for small groups and is accessible to the public during standard opening hours.

The Valletta Design Cluster is truly a user-centred space, inspired by the very people who will be using it.  In the words of the Minister for National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government, José Herrera The Valletta Design Cluster … can truly be a place of cultural interaction, where everyone’s potential is truly achieved to the benefit of our communities.”

Article provided by The Valletta Design Cluster


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