The Atrium furniture showroom in Malta owes its name to a central glass ceiling, as conceived by DeMicoli & Associates principal Ray DeMicoli, which filters light throughout the building. This lighting design mechanism, along with the manner in which floor plans recede in section, creates a hub of visual dynamism and continuity with upper levels overlook activity occurring beneath.
The circulation area around the edge of the atrium was intended to provide further display space - stepped podiums showcase various products on sale. Separate entrance and exit points create a circular passage route.
Flexibility was a main criterion in the project brief. Layouts were designed with maximum adaptability in mind, since displays are intended to be rotated regularly. A proprietary lighting grid was set up overhead. Various options were studied in order to set up partitions. A standard module that could be used both horizontally and vertically reappears throughout the building. The modules may be dressed up in a variety of materials.
The penthouse level is occupied by offices, while the surrounding terrace was intended to be a garden space for selling outdoor furniture. The glazing at the corner is at a strategic location since it faces oncoming traffic from the Mriehel bypass, one of Malta's main industrial and commercial hubs. The intention was to use this showcase as a puller without giving too much away. Horizontal slats shield the remainder of glazing, making the atrium the main source of natural light. The external design includes a curved element at roof level which is light by a source embedded into the handrail. This gives the effect of a floating element which caps the building.
The project, which took three years to complete was handled by DeMicoli & Associates from its inception, excavation into a very difficult clay terrain, construction using a reinforced concrete frame, servicing and finishing to very high standards. Providing access to the escalators from the corner window and installing them in place using two huge cranes when the building was in an advanced state of completion was a major challenge.