eCABS Booking Office

A booking office renovation to mark the 6th anniversary of a local cab company which through its use of material and presence attempts to elevate the activity of waiting for a cab into a more alluring experience.

A small space in one of the urban cores of St Julian's that is characterised by an intense mix of touristic and recreational activity, was fitted out to contain a simple programme aimed at attracting and servicing customers in search of a cab.

The architects thought this could be an opportunity to revisit the millennia-old device of creating structures seemingly carved all of one block, ex uno lapide, a solution that is ideal not only for its seductive aesthetic qualities but also for its marketing potential. It was imperative that the outlet should stand out from the surrounding chaos and formal incoherence, and this it could achieve by offering, in contrast, its own purity and seamlessness. In so doing it has become an elegant beacon in the area.

The blurring of the boundaries between inside and out, between vertical and horizontal, and between wall, counter, floor and ceiling was achieved firstly by using the same material throughout and, secondly, by paying tribute to the ancient technique of hiding the joints, thus achieving total integrity. On the other hand, if the ambition to create a timeless space is a very old one, the architects' have not turned their back on contemporary state-of-the-art cutting and assembly techniques that, paradoxically, but impeccably, allowed the cutting of the various panels, copings and skirting all from a single block of grey terrazzo, the colour and composition of which were designed specifically for this project.

A wooden bench running the length of the wall to which it is attached and created from seasoned iroko is the only element made of another material and provides a warm accent that sets off this understated, yet refined, monochrome space.

Words by Konrad Buhagiar

Located within Malta's nightlife district of Paceville, as well as the presence of a competing cab booking office next door, the client's primary concern was to continue operations whilst works were ongoing, as well as to complete the works in a very short period of time. This required the main contractor to work around the clock, juggling trades between day and night.

Primarily constructed out of precast Terrazzo panels and flooring - a material which is inherently sustainable as it is constructed out of natural stone and other material off-cuts and wastage. The material was chosen primarily for its aesthetic qualities, as well as the fact that it can be carved into any shape, allowing the creation of curved joints between walls and floors - designed to facilitate cleaning given the 24/7 booking office operation. Other materials used throughout the booking office include galvanized steel sheets, a steel clad canopy, as well as materials such as highly polished aluminium and Iroko timber which contrast with the carved and monolithic appearance of the terrazzo interior.