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Cage Gallery Study Abroad: Passive House Malta

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By Alison Kimborowicz, Summer 2013: ARC499Y/599Y Faculty Coordinator: Mary Rogero, Assistant Professor, Architecture + Interior Design

“Malta – Where in the world is that?” “A Mediterranean island pinched in between Sicily and Africa.”

Pictured below: The view of the Mediterranean from our villa. A group photo after the permaculture tour. Bottom right: St. Julian’s, Malta architecture and bay.

We began our journey with a week in Freiburg, Germany, exploring and touring the prosperous, cultured city tucked away in the Black Forest mountain range. Germany is an architectural leader in sustainability and energy efficiency. We had the chance to see the solar settlement – a Passivehaus housing community and the Heliotrop House, the first Passivehaus building in the world. Passivehaus is the most stringent building energy modeling standard in use today. I thought this was one of the most interesting, intriguing parts of our trip since it is such a new technology making a big impact on the effects our buildings have on the environment. We also caught a train to Basel, Switzerland, to tour Frank Gehry’s Vitra Museum before heading to Malta.

A small plane trip across the Mediterranean landed us at our destination just at sunset . The streets of the capital city Valetta, are lined with tall residences and colorful balconies that cascade down towards the Mediterranean banks, only to be stopped by the ruins of the protective walls of Fort St. Elmo, where the Knights of St. John successfully fought the Turkish Invasion in the Great Seige of 1565. Over the next four weeks we toured the small island learning how some of the Maltese are able to live sustainably. Peppi Gauci, from the Permaculture Research Foundation, showed us how he is able to grow his own food in the rocky arid landscape using permaculture tactics. We also learned about the rich, diverse history the country holds and the evolution of how they built on the island being so isolated from other countries.

During part of our trip we took a ferry to the smaller Maltese island called Gozo where we began our two-week design projects applying what we learned from Passivehaus standards in Germany to how we could design a sustainable/efficient Visitors Center for the historic Ggantija Temples. Some of the oldest rock temple formations in the world are located on Gozo. We worked collaboratively on the project balancing work and design time with bonding, hiking and enjoying our surroundings overlooking the landscape, and the Mediterranean. This trip allowed me to step outside my comfort zone and become immersed in two very different, very unique cultures, bonding with my peers all of which I am thankful for.

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Miami University Art Museum - Fall 2014 - visual arts @ miami  

Miami University Art Museum - Fall 2014 - visual arts @ miami A publication of Visual Arts exhibitions, programs, and events at Miami Unive...

Miami University Art Museum - Fall 2014 - visual arts @ miami  

Miami University Art Museum - Fall 2014 - visual arts @ miami A publication of Visual Arts exhibitions, programs, and events at Miami Unive...

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