Text Catalogue x University of Malta Workshop /

Conducted with BSc students entering their second year in Built Environment Studies, Legislation is Design is an entry point into the knotted system of rules and external agendas governing the roles of architects and other participants in the formation of the built environment in Malta. By extending the architect’s preoccupation over into the space of the pre-brief, the documentation accesses and indeed interrogates the effects of policy and its articulation on territory, ownership and property, regulation and deregulation, and dwelling.

Legislation is Design produces a body of work which builds on the collection of photographs and drawings prepared in a preceding workshop, Documenting Difference. The result from this first workshop is an archive of unspectacular buildings that nevertheless cultivate unusual spaces and choreographies for dwelling, collected in response to the choreography of ‘sameness’ perpetuated by the repetitive neo-apartment blocks muschroming across the Maltese Islands. While many seem to center their critique on the veneer of “ugliness” attributed to the nondescript quality this typology has become synonymous for, what is less spoken about is the dilution of a once rich spectrum of dwelling particular to a Mediterranean culture. 

The phenomenon of ‘sameness’ outlined in Documenting Difference is arguably a consequence of the overarching influence rules have, and therefore a strategic outcome: the governing framework of rules mean for it to happen. If the mechanics of ‘sameness’ are to be understood, an excavation into the rules that inscribe the present built reality is a good starting point. In Legislation is Design laws, norms, agendas and relationships  are recognised as techne’ – tools in a process of creating and formalising. By responding to imagined (yet realistic) scenarios and provocations with quick prototypes in the form of plans and models, the students’ documented foray into the space of legislation confronts them with the unusual task of setting the rules for the designer, judging likely reactions to those rules and then learning from that prototyping process to calibrate the designer’s parameters. 

The prototypes showcased here are representative of an open-ended process with a clear implication on how the built environment is to be perceived: malleable, author-ative (scripting potential) and multiplicitous (of many authors). To traverse the legislative plane is to gain access to an unpractised position and make visible cracks in a system otherwise hidden.

Legislating is Design is part of an ongoing collaboration with the University of Malta and supports an investigation into the current state of dense dwelling typologies in Malta. The workshop seeks to aid in the development of design project proposals by applying theoretical and critical processes to the observation and imagined transformation of the local built landscape. Here we feature the research and documentation results of the workshop produced by BSc 2nd Year students from University of Malta’s Faculty for the Built Environment. The workshop was supported by Prof. Alex Torpiano, Dean of the Faculty for the Built Environment and Dr. Irina Miodragovic Vella, Head of Department of Architecture and Urban Design, together with architects and visiting lecturers Alex Spiteri and Peter Brincat.

Thanks to Andrew Borg Wirth, Elena Demarco and Susannah Farrugia for contributing to the discourse. 

Legislation is Design features works by 2nd year Built Environment Studies students (class of 2021/2022); Adam Muscat Pitre’, Aidan Azzopardi Muscat, Alessia Testa, Alister Camilleri, Andre Attard, Andrea Azzopardi, Andrew Catania, Arianna Del Pico, Ayrton Caruana, Ayrton Galea, Bertha Calleja, Braden Calleja, Carla Cardona, Celine Psaila, Chantal Mifsud Giles, Claude Carter, Clayton Montanaro, Daniel Cassar, David Debattista, David Ellul, Davida Dimech, Emma Tabone, Federica D’ Alessio, Federica Formosa, Francesca Cremona, Gabriel Bonavia, Gabriel Quattromani, Gedefaw Mitiku Emiru, Gedeon Joseph Agius, Isabella Marmorato, Ishmael Grima, Iuliia Evgenievna Kalinina, Jasmine Pulis, Jeremy Ellul Sullivan, Jerome Zerafa Gregory, Joanne Debono, Jordan Gatt, Julia Frendo, Julian Vella, Karl Camilleri, Karl Debattista, Karl Farrugia, Kathryn Vella, Kay Farrugia, Keith Tanti, Kyle Farrugia, Laura Marie Mercieca, Leanne Cassar, Liam Caruana, Luigi Mugliett, Luka Djoric, Marie Claire Vella, Marley Mark German, Mattea Platania, Matteo Grima, Matthew Rapa, Matthew Xuereb, Millison Zarb, Mirabel De Gabriele, Murphy Chapot, Nicholas George Borg, Nick Xuereb, Nicole Aquilina, Nicole Casha, Nigel Psaila, Noah Rapa, Oliver Cremona, Rachael Grech Flores, Rebecca Grech Lateo, Rebekah Grixti, Ryan Debono, Samuel Schembri, Sean Valentino, Shasey Bugeja, Stewart Aquilina, Laura Piccinino & Matthias Grech.