A nondescript building in Dingli has been transformed into a piece of statement architecture thanks to a renovation by Mizzi Studio
The design practice, which is based in both Valletta and London, revamped the site for new restaurant Barbajean. Utilising the site’s corner location, Mizzi created a symmetrical statement with the exterior by installing a triptych of openings within a grey-pink rendered facade, each one framed by a chunky pale pink terrazzo architrave (by Halmann Vella), and within, emerald green timber doors and window frames. The retro-style colour theme continues inside where pink terrazzo tables, flecked with shards of Guatemala Verde, have been teamed with emerald-green velvet and timber seating.
In determining the design, Mizzi Studio referenced the surrounding vernacular. ‘Working within the village’s particular urban fabric was a key inspiration for us,’ said Jonathan Mizzi, founder of Mizzi Studio.
‘We wanted to create a restaurant that would stand at the core of a quintessential Maltese village experience.’
In particular, the design concept for Barbajean took cues from the typical Maltese faċċata (the coloured doors), the glass antiporta, informal parapet steps and mid-century terrazzo architrave tradition.
The signage, by Steves and Co, is in Art Deco style and this inspiration is also found in the restaurant’s bar space where three slender, tall repeating arched niches, containing liquor bottles and glassware, are lit with neon accents and rendered in speckled, pale pink terrazzo. The arches complement the emerald green of the timber fluted bar body and work in parallel with its custom-made terrazzo countertop. Bespoke brass tubular barstools line up along the length of the bar, with velvet upholstery that complements the green timber fluting.
Opposite is a long banquette, by Construct Furniture, the green a similar shade to that found on the elaborate metalwork of architect Hector Guimard’s Art Nouveau Metro entrances in Paris.
Above the banquette are a series of striking lights, designed by Mizzi Studio and built by Anvil and Forge. Double-bowed brass tubes with a spherical lampshade, they illuminate but also partition and opulently decorate the restaurant’s entire interior space.
Also decorating the long wall are a series of prints by artist Ed Dingli which show scenes of typical village life. Off the main dining area, towards the back of the restaurant, is a dining nook which has a simpler but cosy feel thanks to dark green walls and wooden floorboards.
‘This project gave us an opportunity to create a new and distinctive design language,’ says Jonathan. ‘We wanted to create something that wholly represented this particular place and its identity – its site, its management, and its overall spirit. We are so excited Barbajean’s doors are now open to the public and is fast becoming one of Ħad-Dingli’s regular go-to eating destinations’.