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Top of the World

These rooftop biblical gardens in Paceville provide multisensory metaphysical prayer spaces to welcome visitors to meditate and pray in their paradisiacal ambiance, says architect Richard England.

THE WORD consists of two split-level gardens on the rooftops of the WOW premises adjacent to the Augustinian Millennium Chapel in Paceville, specifically designed as “loci to pause, be silent and unspoken to, while measuring oneself against the immeasurable”.

The project is the manifestation of horticulturalist Peter Calamatta’s dream of a biblical garden, housing plants mentioned in the Bible, which are indigenous to the Maltese Islands. The purpose is also to inspire visitors to get closer to nature as featured in the chapters of the Holy Book.

They are designed specifically as enclaves of serenity and oases of contemplation. In their quiescence and quietude, one can escape from the surrounding chaotic Paceville nightlife. Above all, they may be considered as spirit-laden antidotes today's secular Mammon-focused world

Accompanied by the enthusiasm and vision of Fr Hilary Tagliaferro, the process of the realisation of Calamatta’s dream into the reality of a magical horticultural arcadia was in the hands of architect Richard England in collaboration with his colleague Duncan Polidano.

“The process,” Prof. England says, “seemed to re-echo my earlier venture with Fr Hilary that saw the realisation of his reverie of the Oasis of Peace of the Millennium Chapel.”

While the chapel focuses on the elevation of man’s spirit and soul, the biblical garden is conceived to be experienced not only visually, but also by the other human senses… It is designed as a choreographic stage set to enrich and entice visitors, physically, sensually and also spiritually. Gardens, after all, provide oxygen not only for the lungs, but more so for the soul.

The two gardens named Hippo and Cassiciaco, where St Augustine meditated and was baptised, provide multisensory metaphysical prayer spaces to welcome visitors to meditate and pray in their paradisiacal ambiance.

They are designed specifically as enclaves of serenity and oases of contemplation. In their quiescence and quietude, one can escape from the surrounding chaotic Paceville nightlife. Above all, they may be considered as spirit-laden antidotes to today’s secular Mammon-focused world.

The perimeters of these spaces are lined with troughs for plants, shrubs and trees, and each species is backed by vertical metal panels on which is inscribed the plant’s botanical nomenclature and its biblical reference with the screened spaces in between evoking the seven colours of the rainbow.

The gardens host 40 local plants and trees, including two central metal sculptures by sculptor Noel Attard: The Tree of Knowledge and The Tree of Life.

They are lit for night-time viewing by Light Design Solutions Ltd and provide arenas to enrich the spirit and enhance the soul.

The best place to seek God is in a garden

“It has been a privilege to be involved in the making of this project, an enclave, forged and carved with dedication, commitment and love; an ambiance conceived to enrich the spirit and enhance the soul,” says Prof. England.

Manifesting Calamatta’s visionary dream of a biblical garden has been an inspirational and fascinating journey, he continues, acknowledging the “untiring contribution” of the many other collaborators, without whose enthusiasm and toil the project could not have been brought to fruition.