Who’d ever have thought that the site of the Old Abattoir in Valletta – known as the Biċċerija l-Antika – would be elevated to such lofty purposes? The Valletta Design Cluster as a project was conceived in the run-up to 2018, when Valletta held the title European Capital of Culture. Although it wasn’t completed in time for the celebrations, it was kept on as a legacy project until officially inaugurated in March 2021.
The Valletta Design Cluster is intended to offer a working space and opportunities to Malta’s creative sector while focusing on design, entrepreneurship and social impact. The multi-disciplinary approach focuses not only on established artists but also on community outreach, bringing together creatives and Valletta residents for community-led projects.
The idea is for creatives to use the site as a hub, using dedicated areas for co-working, a fully equipped space for makers of art, a food space for culinary projects, meeting rooms and conference facilities as well as a roof garden that is open to the public.
Valletta Design Cluster – the old site
The Valletta Design Cluster is built on the regenerated site of the Old Abattoir under St Barbara Bastion. The building was constructed in the 17th century to serve as slaughterhouse, but in reality it fulfilled this purpose for a very short span of time. In the early 18th century it served as soldiers’ barracks, and at one point even hosted a large number of bakers’ ovens. Although the building was earmarked for a housing project in the late 20th century, this never materialised. For over 50 years the Old Abattoir lay abandoned, turning into an eyesore and a headache for local authorities, due to the dilapidated and dangerous state of the building.