When the Phoenician Queen, Bodicea, needed a harbour in Carthage, she set out to dig the ground. The city had two artificial harbours built inside the city walls, connected by a canal. The smaller one was a military harbour that held 220 warships.
Technology has changed, but the need for safe berthing places has not. The powers and the forces of nature to be harnessed have been the same for thousands of years. Bodicea’s very same plan is what the Tumas Group embarked upon some 2,500 years later. The new marina development was to become a focal point of the Portomaso Project. The project architects, Ray DeMicoli and Edward Bencini, were to translate their clients’ architectural brief into physical form.
Clustering around the marina, one finds the Hilton hotel with its leisure centre, squash court and indoor pool, speciality restaurants, a beach club and the popular Quarterdeck bar. The latter is a stylish cocktail and wine bar with a nautical theme and a large terrace overlooking the yacht marina. It is supported by the water taxi basin, a circular colonnade encircling a small boat’s landing place. The hotel reception and restaurant look down onto this space. In the morning, the sun in the water is reflected onto the suspended ceiling, at reception level, evoking a unique atmosphere. This, together with the harmony of spaces and the discourse between architecture and daylight renders the hotel very special.
A three-basin, 110-berth yacht marina stretching along 1.6 km of water frontage. The 300 apartments, set around the marina, each enjoy sea views, benefit from the same privileges as the hotel and can even opt for room service. A green belt all around the marina is a clever break that softens the buildings’ architecural impact.
The 22 floor Portomaso business tower, clad in extruded ceramic tiles, has become the beacon - a campanile to the project. It is believed to be one of the most prestigious addresses for office space on the island. This building is definitely an architectural complex. Various functions, though integrated, are each served by a massive parking area at the back.The tower consists of mainly office space, save for Level 22, an exclusive night time food and cocktail bar, enjoying 360 degree views of Malta’s harbour area.
To date, the Project may be hailed the most ambitious and exciting project in Malta. Its main inspiration is drawn from the fact that buildings in Malta are so immediate to the sea. Here too, the sea is very accessible. Imagine stepping out for a walk around the promenade at any time of day or being able to go fishing during lunch break! Perhaps, this is why properties at Portomaso have benefited from a rise in value which was unprecedented in Malta. The project has won several international awards and has heralded a new benchmark in quality for the Island.