How would you define high-end architecture?

High-end architecture derives from a design solution that incorporates spatial analysis, customised solutions, the use of light, and the fitting of the project within the site context and according to the client’s brief. These elements are all examined at a very early stage of the design process, when the project is still on paper.

This fusion of time, architectural skill, knowledge and design is translated into a feel-good factor that whoever experiences the property reads subconsciously.

Photo: David PisaniPhoto: David Pisani

The quality and detailing of the construction process itself distinguishes certain buildings from others. These elements include innovative solutions, use of the latest technology, and good quality construction and detailing. Other elements could also be hidden, such as thermal insulation, sound insulation and energy performance.

The quality of the finish also determines high-end architecture. This is probably what is more visually apparent and what brings all the elements together.

For all these elements, a relatively higher financial investment, even in terms of location, is necessary.

Does high-end still need to marry function?

High quality architecture needs to go beyond just looking good. For instance, some might still refer to a reductionist minimal design as attractive yet too impersonal to live in. In my opinion, this happens when the project does not achieve the necessary practicality and does not fulfill its function.

How materials combine, how they perform, and the innovation in their use for that particular project are crucial

A successful project marries function with form to a level where you cannot distinguish one from the other. The more seamless the two are fused together, the more successful the design is.

What determines luxury and the quality of the finish and interiors?

For me, two elements are essential: practicality and ease of living. I’m very proud that the residential projects our office has designed so far have had very good feedback from our clients. They love living there. This is our aim and our biggest satisfaction.

Photo: David PisaniPhoto: David Pisani

Quality of finishes and interiors cannot be taken out of the context of location. For areas without the benefit of a spectacular location, luxury is still achievable. However, through the use of clever design and materials – such as creating focal points and manipulating light – the context is taken into consideration.

Does choice of building materials also determine luxury?

Choice and combination of materials is very important. However, it’s not just cost which elevates building materials to high-end status. I would consider the detailing of the materials used as being the most important factor in achieving the perception of high-end. How materials combine, how they perform, and the innovation in their use for that particular project are crucial. In other words, it’s the thought rather than the cost that matters.

Photo: David PisaniPhoto: David Pisani

When it comes to furnishing, materials have to be durable and of a high quality. Such luxury materials and elements include cladding, decking, marble, natural stone, mature landscaping, outdoor furniture, decorative elements and lighting, customised furniture, vented flooring, underfloor heating, integrated sound system and smart home systems.

Is luxury still defined in terms of rarity and price?

As an architectural design professional, I would rather redefine rarity as uniqueness of design, and price as time and thought spent on a solution. Of course, rarity and price make an object harder to source or purchase and so add to the feeling of luxury.

Which rooms best showcase luxury?

Photo: Therese DebonoPhoto: Therese Debono

Perhaps the living room would be the most obvious space. Being the area that enjoys frequent use by residents and guests, it is here that owners would demonstrate their lifestyle.

However, I think it’s the bathroom where the trained eye gets the best idea of a homeowner’s personal taste and character. Is the focus on practicality or relaxation? Is the bathroom a carbon copy of a showroom model or customised? What materials have been used? The answers will tell you a lot about the homeowner.

Within the Maltese context, how does luxury differ from one type of residence to the other?

Apart from materials and finishes, luxury in a historical residence such as a palazzo is defined by its history, location and architectural value. In these residences, finishes would ideally focus on classic or contemporary classic materials which are adapted to a practical use.

Luxury in a villa can be primarily defined in terms of the quality of the architecture, spatial design, size, location, views and quality of finishes.

In a penthouse, luxury would be translated into extra elements that are not commonly present in apartments. These include exterior terrace finishes such as decking, a pool or jacuzzi, canopies and planting. Spacious and well-lit living areas are also crucial.

Does luxury in a residence also influence a property’s value?

High-end luxury residences reach a different niche market from others of their same size and type, since they are less available on the market. Buyers who are looking to acquire a high-end property have less market choice, but are usually willing to spend more.

Photo: David PisaniPhoto: David Pisani

Daniel Scerri is a senior architect at Daniel Scerri Periti. The architectural firm has been in practice for 11 years and will soon be moving to bigger offices. The works of Daniel Scerri Periti have been featured in several local and foreign publications and websites.


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