A new, prestigious office space will soon be opening its doors in the heart of Valletta. Set on the corner of Merchants Street and St Lucia` Street, Palazzo Lucia was until recently a derelict 18th-century palazzo. Now, it has been meticulously transformed into a prestigious office hub of exceptional design and architecture.
The project, which was designed to be a prime spot for professionals to conduct business in the capital, marks another milestone for AX Construction. The firm has been a prominent player in the local construction sector since its establishment in 1977. Originally renowned for its excellence in building, civil engineering, turnkey and project management, AX Construction has steadily carved out a niche with its specialist restoration services.
Over the years, AX Construction has been contracted to restore a wide range of historic and scheduled buildings and architectural sites, including centuries-old churches, bastions, palazzos, and fortifications, all of which have been completed on time and to the highest possible standards.
For Denise Xuereb, director of construction and development at AX Group and CEO of AX Real Estate, restoration is an integral mission to the company’s vision to preserve Malta’s unique architectural heritage, especially through the conservation of traditional local stone: “Working on buildings of this age and cultural significance demands a high-level expertise. That’s why we invest in our people to ensure they possess the specialised skills for sensitive restoration, learning time-honoured traditional methods while ensuring we stay up to date with the latest internationally approved techniques.”
AX Construction is certainly no stranger to restoring buildings of note. Just a stone’s throw away from Palazzo Lucia is the Church of the Jesuits, a historical gem dating back to 1593. The building is notable for its two unique oratories, which have captivated academics, historians, and churchgoers alike with their remarkable artistic and architectural features. During the past three years, the AX Construction team has been hard at work restoring the church’s interiors, across a range of elements, from wall paintings, masonry, and statues to woodwork, flooring, stone carvings, and metalwork. This comprehensive restoration is not only safeguarding the church’s rich heritage but ensuring that visitors can once again enjoy its charm.
AX Construction also played a pivotal role in the resurrection of Valletta Waterfront, focusing particularly on the restoration of the Forni Vault. This historic site presented a unique challenge, as it required an approach that blended modern technologies with the restoration methods of the 17th-century to bring the architecture back to its former glory. Other highlight projects have included constructing a new visitor centre and restoring St. Paul’s Catacombs; the restoration of Senglea’s Bastion, Gate, Belvedere, and Gardjola; and the restoration and conservation of the front façade of the Church of St Catherine in Żejtun, among others.
As Ms Xuereb puts it: “Every restoration project is a new journey for us. Naturally, we bring a lot of knowledge and expertise from our previous projects, but we also recognise the importance of understanding the uniqueness of each building we are entrusted with. For us, this goes beyond the bricks and mortar of the architecture to also understanding a building’s story or its role in the community. This helps us adapt our methods to really bring the beauty of these buildings back to life. And the same has been true of our approach to Palazzo Lucia.”
During the research phase, the team discovered that Palazzo Lucia was built during the Carapecchia period between 1725 and 1735, and was most likely the city house of a noble family. As such, AX Construction took great care to ensure that many classic features of this period still adorn the building, from the floral design in the decorated elements of the facade, to maintaining the generous proportions of the internal spaces. Special attention has been given to the original timber and metal railings, which had deteriorated due to years of elemental erosion, bringing back to their lustre.
The team also made significant investment in a newly constructed Maltese gallarija in striking scarlet. The traditional wooden balcony extends around the curvature of the building and lends the property a charm that perfectly matches its historic setting.
“With a project like Palazzo Lucia, we were aware that in addition to restoration works, we also needed to decide on the right approach to adapt the building’s functionality to suit a contemporary offering. When it was decided to turn the building into a modern, prestigious office hub, our team of experts delved into how we could make the most of the building’s inherent features and re-contextualise each space for today’s professionals,” Ms Xuereb explains.
The finished article speaks volumes to the care and attention to detail that has been poured into this project. Over 1200 square metres of space has been transformed into 18 fully serviced offices in a variety of sizes and layouts, which can cater to individuals to larger spaces designed for whole teams. Tenants also enjoy access to a range of high-quality amenities, from stylish meeting areas to a boardroom equipped with modern video conferencing facilities.
The central courtyard has been meticulously preserved, complete with panoramic elevator and a ventilated glass ceiling that lets in plenty of natural light, ensuring the offices feel bright and welcoming. What’s more, the rooftop terrace doubles up as a charming breakout area complete with stunning views over the capital all the way to Grand Harbour.
“We are proud of what we have accomplished with Palazzo Lucia. Not only is it a beautiful piece of architecture, but the entire work environment has been designed to provide professionals with amenities and spaces tailored to their needs. What’s more, it’s conveniently located right in the heart of the capital, making it ideal for meeting clients, networking, and business lunches. We can’t wait to welcome tenants into the building to make sure this palazzo on Merchants Street becomes a vital part of the Valletta community once more,” Ms Xuereb concludes.
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