Timber in Malta – Featuring the traditional Maltese balcony
Fast track to M. Demajo (Timbers) Ltd
The Malta Environment & Planning Authority has granted Lm21,000 to help restore the timber balconies in properties in Malta belonging to philanthropic, cultural and political organizations and clubs. Twenty-nine organizations benefited from this scheme, which had been launched to encourage clubs and committees in the maintenance of their premises, particularly those located in the Maltese village cores.
MEPA's aim of helping in the regeneration of the urban fabric across Malta and Gozo without restriction to specific towns was the response of the Authority to its client's needs. The Authority was concerned with the maintenance of this architectural feature especially in the urban cores and realized the expense involved in the upkeep of the timber balconies. It was for this reason that the Timber Balconies Scheme in Malta was introduced.
This initiative has contributed to safeguarding some of Malta's finest historical buildings, including Palazzo Xara and Casa Bernard in Rabat, the Monastery of St.Urusula in Valletta and Palazz Sant'Andria in Luqa. Other clubs and philanthropic organizations have made use of this scheme to change their aluminum or open balconies into the traditional timber balcony. The subsidized financial help that these organizations received from MEPA, to repair or replace their balcony with another made of timber, amounted to 60% of the costs involved.
Although it is not certain when the closed timber balconies were introduced in Malta, iconographic evidence suggests that such balconies appeared in the first half of the 18th Century, possibly being introduced from Spain, where similar balconies may be found. This new element had a profound effect on the aesthetics of Maltese architecture since many balconies were added on to the facades of existing buildings while new buildings began to include wooden balconies especially during the 19th Century.
The popularity of the gallerija never waned since it provides a useful, semi-private space which helps in the climatic control of a building. However, in recent years, rising maintenance costs have resulted in the introduction of aluminium or stone copies of dubious aesthetic value which are slowly but surely having a deleterious effect on the appearance of our buildings and traditional townscape on the Maltese Islands.