Get Lifted: The Barrakka Lift Project in Malta

This lift goes up SO HIGH; SO HIGH it’s gonna touch the sky…well, not really, but the story behind the Barrakka Lift Project (no, NOT this guy) is very interesting, though.  Commissioned by the Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation PLC and designed by Architecture Project, the 20-story-high panoramic Barrakka Lift Project is located along the edge of Malta’s historic fortified capital city of Valletta. Once fortified with walls from the 1700’s to deter enemy ships — with those same walls now being conserved to provide access to residents and tourists — this new lift tower will help enhance the large number of pedestrian traffic from the water’s edge along the Valletta waterfront, over the fortified walls, into the city and Grand Harbor, and linking the  Upper Barrakka Gardens and the new City Gate.

After the social resurgence of the waterside district through restaurants and cafes, the old 60-foot-high 1905 lift — from Valletta’s heyday as a trading port — was re-activated (along to two 12-person capacity lift cabins), but the operation shut down in 1973 and the structure was left abandoned and later demolished in the 1980’s.  This new lift will serve a similar purpose, while creating a strong vertical statement to the harbor’s skyline, but is also essentially TWO lifts pulled apart with a cavity between in which a staircase is to be installed, accommodating safety requirements, reducing the visual weight of the new lift structure, and accentuating the structures’ vertical proportions.

The geometric qualities of the lift’s plan serve as a callback to the existing bastion wall’s angular forms, and the corrugated aluminum edges of the facade modulate natural light as it strikes the lift, resulting in emphasizing its height. The installation of mesh disguises the glazed lift carriages — reminiscent of the forms of the original cage lifts — all while providing shade and protection to its passengers as they travel between Valletta and the Mediterranean Sea.

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