Talented photographer Charles Paul Azzopardi has a natural wit for finding the souls and desires of the people who design and build some of Malta’s iconic buildings. This year, Dr Azzopardi scooped Architecture Photography’s top prize at last month's Planning Authority’s prestigious MASP Awards Ceremony.
His set of photos portraying the modernist retreat house of Dar il-Ħanin Samaritan in Santa Venera captures the spirit of this place in a technically precise and aesthetically pleasing manner. The MUSEUM Society owns the property.
“I photographed the Dar il-Ħanin Samaritan project primarily because it is one of the few architectural sites in Malta which evokes serenity and peace whenever I visit.” recounts Azzopardi. “It is a small site with myriad possibilities due to the effect of the shifting lines of light during the day.”
The meditation garden at Dar il-Ħanin Samaritan is an arena of solace and prayer. The experience through the park reflects the journey through life, from birth to the conception of life beyond death. The architectural elements of the garden come to life with conspicuous colours, the play of light and shadow and the element of water, which features throughout the whole space.
The fountain, which can be found in the prominent landmark of the garden, symbolises the start of life and the sacrament of baptism, also reflected in the whitewash colour surrounding the fountain.
While walking out of this structure, one encounters a series of colourful forms that symbolise life's joys, while the white steps represent the good and bad experiences encountered through this journey.
The last part of the journey takes the form of a chapel surrounded by water to symbolise the famous saying 'Bħal ħuta fl-ilma, hekk aħna f'Alla' by San Ġorġ Preca, which is the founder of the MUSEUM Society of Christian Doctrine. At the same time, the main focus remains the figure of the Resurrection.
Dr Azzopardi started photography while studying abroad ten years ago with no real intent of it ever being more than a way of documenting his weekend forays into the forests and landscapes of Scotland. Before visiting a building or project, observes the sun's direction and the best times to photograph particular aspects. With time he discovered and saw the world mostly in black and white tones, and architecture is one of the genres which best suits this artistic vision.
“The first thing I usually do when arriving at a site,” relates Dr Azzopardi “, is go to the spot where I know I will get the image I already have in mind.”
“Within the first five minutes, I usually already have all the necessary signature images. I then spend another hour on-site just soaking in the atmosphere, and if that particular feeling evokes new images, I photograph those,” Dr Azzopardi points out.
“I am proud that I participated in this year’s edition of the MASP Awards,” says Dr Azzopardi. “These Awards have given and continue to give credence to the burgeoning architecture and design industry in Malta, producing work worthy of international renown despite Malta’s small size. The MASP Awards deserve credit for allowing such projects to come to the public's attention,” he concludes.
The MASP Awards, organised by the Planning Authority and held under the Patronage of the President of Malta, promote and give recognition to quality architectural and interior design projects that promise to leave a positive mark for decades.
The awards celebrate the meticulous work and innovation of the people behind these iconic projects – from established professionals to graduating students.
For more information about the Planning Authority’s awards, click here.