Design is ‘an approach to problem-solving that can be applied across the private and public sectors to drive innovation in products, services, society and even policy- making by putting people first. –
Dr Anna Whicher, PDR International Centre for Design and Research, UK
The Valletta Design Cluster is a community space for cultural and creative practice situated in the renovated Old Abattoir building (Il-Biċċerija) in Valletta, Malta. The site is undergoing restoration and regeneration in order to host the Valletta Design Cluster facilities as of late 2019. Openness is one of the main pillars on which the Valletta Design Cluster concept builds its vision, placing itself as a key facility for learning, networking, creating, sharing experiences, ideas and projects with a number of stakeholders coming from different communities. The great variety of available spaces within the building will include:
- The Alley, an exhibition space on ground floor;
- The Artist in Residence Space, offering accommodation and working facilities;
- The Conference Room;
- The Co-working Spaces, where practitioners from different backgrounds will work next to each other with the hope of fostering new synergies and creative contamination;
- The Creative Studios, available to individuals and start-up SMEs to develop ideas and work on specific projects;
- The Food Space, an open kitchen which hosts a variety of programmes, centred around the idea of making and enjoying food;
- The Makerspace, a fully-equipped workshop offering digital and traditional tools, where ideas come to life, either independently or with the help of qualified personnel;
- The Roof Garden, a community green space dedicated to leisure activities and relax.
The functions of the various spaces have been identified through a meticulous research process aiming to give voice to the community needs of (creative) spaces in Malta. We identify ‘Communities’ with various potential users from the cultural and creative sectors, residents, students, start-ups, creative enterprises and other similar entities, whom the Valletta Design Cluster will provide support through its space, equipment and staff to ensure a greater effort towards the social good is made. A wide range of public and independent organisations are also contributing to the project, providing both expertise and generous support. Openness and promotion of diversity trigger our bottom-up approach towards community engagement, event programming and services offered, together with the promotion of new networks between users.
The Valletta Design Cluster has also created and supported a number of events to promote local and international design and artistic practices reflecting on communities wellbeing. Started in 2016, the Valletta Design Cluster programming agenda has included:
- Design4DCity, a program addressing the wellbeing of residents through co-creative approaches towards public space;
- Baħħ Blu // Blue Void, a multi-site artwork installed in the sea area close to the Old Fish Market in Valletta (Il-Pixkerija tal-Belt) and at the Lower Barrakka Gardens which explored the relationship between man and sea;
- Design4Innovation, a collaborative project organized by eight European partners dedicated to promoting design as a tool for user-centred innovation;
- Tactile, the first international visual arts project in the Maltese Islands to involve the visually impaired to an equal level as the rest of the community;
- Malta Design Week, an event presented by Foundation 808, which aims to celebrate, promote, and showcase the best of Maltese and international design, innovation and creativity;
- Malta Robotics Olympiad, Malta’s major annual event for design, technology and education;
- ANTIPORTA: A Fading Negotiation, an installation examining the functions of this door within the Maltese context by documenting its passage over time and imagining its future
The Valletta Design Cluster has also hosted several networking and community engagement events in order to create solid connections between the future users of the facility, adhering to the strategic objective to establish the organisation as a new community- driven platform for cultural and creative practice and exchange in Malta.
The project is being supported by the European Regional Development Fund, which is allowing the regeneration of the physical space for the Valletta Design Cluster and the urban public spaces around it.
Follow the Valletta Design Cluster on Facebook for updates.