The Palazzina Vincenti has just been granted a Grade 2 level of scheduling by the Planning Authority, following the Superintendence’s recommendation to the Planning Authority’s Executive Council on the 14th of December, 2021, also endorsed by the Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee. The Planning Authority had consequently issued an Emergency Conservation Order (ECO) to allow a comprehensive assessment of the building which was to determine the appropriate level of protection deserving by such a property.
The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage had been engaging with a development application that sought to demolish the historic building to make way for a new hotel along the Sliema promenade since its submission on the Planning Authority’s e-Apps portal, immediately sounding its objection to the proposal and drawing attention to the high cultural heritage value of the building.
The Superintendence thus noted that the property in question is a significant Modernist building that served as a residence to Gustavo Romeo Vincenti, one of the most prominent architects of the first half of the 20th century, known for his architectural style heavily influenced by geometric shapes and forms. Originally a pioneer of the Art Nouveau, Vincenti designed his personal residence in the Modernist style, making the Palazzina Vincenti one of the earliest and best examples of Modernist buildings in Malta.
It is, in fact, also one of the earliest residential villas to be constructed in the Modernist style, being one of the first buildings to incorporate reinforced concrete in a domestic setting. Given its architectural and aesthetic pioneering qualities, the building is representative of a period of experimentation with materials, geometry and styles, and served as an international solution for residences that remained influential and relevant throughout the mid-twentieth century.
The Palazzina Vincenti is furthermore located within a highly significant context, being in the vicinity of several scheduled properties (Triq il-Kbira Seawall and Stairs; Villa Leoni; Casa Caruana Dingli and Chateau en Mar: GN576/94), and bearing onto the Urban Conservation Area of San Giljan to its rear. Adjacent to the Palazzina on either side are another two houses which seem to be designed in a muted Modernist aesthetic that may have been derived from Vincenti’s affiliation with regional modernist architecture.
The Superintendence has researched the works of Gustavo R. Vincenti and formally recommended Palazzina Vincenti for scheduling during the Planning Authority’s Executive Council meeting in 2021, resulting in the issuing of an Emergency Conservation Order (ECO) and eventually being granted a Grade 2 level of scheduling as of 20th April, 2023.
While immediately recognising the architectural, historical, and social value of Palazzina Vincenti, the official classification of the property as a Grade 2 scheduled building shrouds the property in a layer of protection that was not previously recognised, ensuring its retention and preservation in the face of demolition threat.
The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage looks forward to engaging with new proposals that recognise the cultural heritage significance of this property and that are geared towards its rehabilitation and restoration.
The facades of the two adjacent houses abutting the Palazzina on either side, designed in a muted Modernist idiom are also being scheduled as Grade 2 properties, while their interiors will be scheduled as Grade 3.