A Gharghur Haven

24th July 2016

The final instalment of our summer courtyard series looks into Martin Azzopardi and Simon Walker’s townhouse in Gharghur, which blends the modern with the traditional – a feat that is the result of decades’ worth of work and dedication. Their courtyard was a crucial part of their project, and is now the central focus of their beautiful home.

The renovation of this house – parts of which are about 400 years old – took place back in the late 90s.

As you can see, one side of the courtyard has details that are very typically Maltese, with metal work and traditional windows and balcony. The other side, however, is much more modern with a water fountain and statement staircase which leads up to the terrace. The terrace railings were created in a way to give the feel of being on a cruise ship.

The staircase in itself is quite a focal point. It is comprised of one, solid iron beam that had to be lifted in from the outside using a crane and swung into the courtyard. It was mad, but we love it. Originally, this wasn’t meant to have any plants on or around it, in order to create more contrast between the traditional and the modern parts.

We love how the doors to the kitchen and the dining room fold over, essentially creating one very big, open space – the indoors become the outdoors, and vice versa. We often set it up like that when we’re entertaining and we’ve even managed to fit 80 people in the space.

We believe these two houses were once hunting lodges back when Gharghur was still very rural. We say ‘these’ because we bought the house adjacent and knocked down the kitchen and some outhouses to create the rather large courtyard we have today.

Ever since we moved to Malta, we knew we wanted a house with a courtyard – having had a garden in the UK, we knew we didn’t want to have something that high-maintenance.

We’re glad we did, too, as this courtyard introduced us to Berta, our cat. She was a wild cat and she jumped over here on the day of the San Bertu festa some 15 years ago. We also had another cat we adopted called Sally, but she sadly passed away last year.

The courtyard is now a big part of the house, and it’s a place we love spending time in. We’re glad we went for this modern-traditional twist – in fact, one of our favourite motifs is the barumbara (dovecote) in the wall the staircase is attached to. The perfect mix of old and new!

This is a snippet. Read the full feature on the latest issue of STYLE on Sunday.

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A Gharghur Haven