As close to a "concept" as you are going to get...

I made these lists (based on the writings of Christopher Alexander) in order to help me organize the spaces and volumes in my overall vision for the site plan of the Marsa Open Centre. The first is basically a list of all the components that will make up the Centre and give it life; "the building blocks" of the project.  The second list is made up of the features that already exist on the site.  Alexander writes that "the crux of the problem of making the site plan lies in the task of reconciling the two systems of centers - that means finding a new structure which unfolds from the existing wholeness, and which then embodies the centers of the pattern language within the centers that exist on the site." (Alexander, 174)

The following post will show the results of the process of site planning that began with and tried to embody the ideals of the list below.

The centers of the Marsa Open Centre

A) As defined by the pattern language (needs)

The yards >  The site is made up of a series of public yards (or plazas) that define transitional/meeting spaces >  Each yard is defined by a particular theme and addresses a particular programmatic requirement >  The housing yard is the only one that is mainly for MOC  residents and it is therefore the most private >  Each yard has seating in the shade and gardens

The framing buildings >  The yards are surrounded by buildings that support the  theme of that yard and provide amenities >  There is always a place for eating >  Multistorey buildings typically have public facilites on the  ground floor and housing above

The canal street >  The yards along the canal are linked by the most public of  streets which is broad, shaded, slightly raised and has seating  along the canal wall

The bridges >  Bridges branch off the canal street and provide an entrance to each of the yards from across the canal >  The bridges are the links between the MOC and Marsa

Market street >  The main street of commerce and public life >  It follows the edge of the main housing building from the  entrance yard to the housing yard (the entire length of the site,  N-S)

Main street (working title) >  This street connects the more public yards near the canal with  the housing yard at the back of the site. >  It has a mixture of facilites related more towards MOC  residents. >  Mainstreet intersects with the market street at the entrance to  the housing yard where there is a community garden The triangle and olive mill >  This piece of land in the middle of the canal is a sunny public garden and the tranistional space between Marsa and the MOC.   It has a small olive oil mill run by migrants and Maltese

The yards in detail >  The entrance yard is the first place of welcome for the center. It is very public and provides a link between the small library and the entrance.  The entrance yard will become a more quiet place  when the main entrance shifts to the market yard in the  future >  The market yard is the largest yard and the heart of public life  at the MOC.  It is where the Maltese and asylum seekers will  have the most interaction.  It consists of a shaded outdoor  marketplace, a mosque, a canal promenade, and a stormwater  treatment wetland >  The recreation yard has the football pitch as its focal point.  It  is surrounded by mostly recreational facilities but also a  transitional building that links it with the housing yard. >  The housing yard is the most private yard.  It is surrounded by  housing and communal facilities for more permanent MOC resi dents as well as housing for women and families

B)  As defined by thephysical site

The canal >  A place for sitting and coming into contact with the water,  canal defines the MOC’s Western side.   The canal connects the  public yards

The wall >  The wall that separates the MOC from the government yards to  the East and South defines the site on these sides.  It is well- oriented for vertical planting

The factory tower >  This 3-storey tower is on the MOC site but is part of the  goverment yards.  It provides a way to separate the more public  activies of the market yard from the more private housing yard

The bowl >  This slight concave hollow in the land slopes toward the canal  in the market yard.  It is a natural place for biological treatment  of runoff and helps to define the yard as a communal gathering place

The triangle >  This is the most "green" place in the MOC and most appropriate  for larger-scale agriculture


Alexander, Christopher.  The Nature of Order, Book 3:  A Vision of a Living World.  Berkley, California:  The Center for Environmental Structure, 2005.