Open-minded clients are a blessing. Return clients who trust you and your work even before the project begins is a recipe for success. When we first visited the site with our clients, then new owners of this property, a 1980s villa in Lija, well-hidden from public view, the house was quite run-down, particularly the garden, and needed some love and care. The brief was for a complete re-invention of the space. And that we did. The house was, in our opinion, too large for what was needed. Rather than extend, as is usually the case, the building fabric was reduced. A 1990s kitchen/dining room extension was completely removed, a garage and workshop demolished too (and replaced by an ample covered car port) and the garden therefore enlarged and backfilled by 1 storey to reach the internal FFL of the house. A shading canopy, however, was built instead, to provide much-needed summer shading. The garden, therefore, almost doubled in size. The pool and deck were built up rather than excavated, above an existing very large reservoir. The garden had to become the focal point of the house. In order to do this, the orientation of the interiors of the house had to change drastically. The focus upon entry had to rotate by 90 degrees. Firstly, therefore, the door and porchway were pushed outwards to create an entry orientation space, where one could land and shift his focus from the opened-up view South, directly opposite (onto a strategically placed relocated mandarin tree) to the East, to the enlarged garden, which could now be appreciated in its entirety towards a 'distant' focal element. The staggered volumes of the house in the widening side garden allowed to open up direct views towards the back garden from all areas of the house. Next, most internal walls were strategically removed at ground floor to open up specific angles of view from strategic positions. No wall (at ground floor) was left untouched, in fact. The success of the open-plan layout, though, lies in the positioning of the utilities. The existing staircase was retained since it was in the ideal location, but the last flight was diverted in order to fit in a comfy guest bathroom. A double-height space was introduced upon entry, in the 'orientation space' in order for the user to perceive the size of the 2-storey house and get one's bearings. Most importantly, the concept of the kitchen in 'the contemporary house' was taken back to its 19th century equivalent, where the food preparation area and the scullery were separated. In this case, the open part of the kitchen houses a large island for food preparation and breakfast area, and the tall cupboards, through which one can enter a hidden chamber serving as the 'scullery', complete with dishwashing area, sink, secondary cooking oven, pantry and storage space. From the back, this space lays behind an undulating semi-see-through timber louvered screen with an undulating CNC-cut pattern for each individual section. The whole scullery is designed as a massive piece of timber furniture central feature. This alternative kitchen layout worked incredibly well with the owners' lifestyle, due to unusual eating hours and a love for entertaining. All can be stored temporarily away from sight until cleared. The actual kitchen is now part of the entertainment area, serving both inside and outside. The 10m glass back facade can be completely opened up too, for a seamless transition between inside and outside. The massive dining area also acts as a visual pivot in the open plan. Views to it and from it were carefully studied to interlink between the living room, car port, kitchen and outdoors. A large canopy acts as an outdoor living room and has become the favourite space of both the owners and their massive adorable dog. The first floor houses 3 large bedrooms, and a massive terrace overlooking the back garden. Privacy to the main bedroom was achieved with the use of a custom-built mesh screen acting as a semi-see-through panel creating a play of light and shadow. A flying beam above the terrace is purely to achieve a sense of enclosure to the terrace and acts as a play of shadow that glides across the garden during the day, indicating the time of day to the owners, who have already got used to the position of the shadows on the sun deck. The massive entrance pivot door was another challenge in itself. To ensure adequate weatherproof sealing from wind and rain, the details were custom-designed and built specifically for this project. Interiors reflected a clean raw natural palette, combined to achieve the right balance of cool & warm, smooth & textured, rough & refined, light & shade, vertical & horizontal, background & foreground, layering effects and reflections.