On the shoreline of Malta and her “sister” island, Gozo, countless saltpans are carved into the rocks. These saltpans stand out due to their unique sculpted saltscape created by the carvings on the limestone by the sea, while being characterized by their handmade and traditional operating way in contrast to the large industrial saltpans. The locations of these “salinas” were found during the search for non-industrial types of salt production for my research thesis titled “Saltscapes”. The focus of the paper was salt and saltscapes not only as production spaces but also as landscapes with cultural and quality characteristics. Many of the salinas were illustrated to draw conclusions for these unearthly landscapes.
The present diploma project continues after my research work, as one of these saltscapes is the selected area of study for the infrastructure. The construction of a museum about salt and salinas is proposed on the Xwejni bay in Gozo, right above the last operating rock-cut saltpans. It is meant to be an informative space about the white, crystal formed, mineral showcasing its importance through its location, and it will be a supportive place for the production needs. It is a way of featuring the natural and man-made, the small and large, the carved and corroded formations which are getting soaked for hundreds of years from the sea waters of the Maltese archipelago.
SAΛTEUM obtain its characteristics from the country, the area and culture of the islands. The salinas’ engravings on the ground inspired the design, while the carved rocks combined with the place’s history, inspired the construction of the underground museum. The architectural proposal aims on strengthening the relation with the ground and nature through the reconnection with natural methods, while respecting the environment.