Work on the restoration of Casino Notabile at Saqqajja Hill is expected to start within a month. This project, which was supposed to have been carried out with European funds, should have been completed by the end of last year, however, it had to be postponed because of a dispute over the works contract. The project will now be carried out using local funds and is expected to cost just over €200,000.
The restoration is expected to be finished by the middle of this year. This was confirmed by the Director of Restoration, architect Norbert Gatt.
“Discussions with the contractor have already started, and the tender has been awarded. The work on site will begin towards the end of February or beginning of March but the preparatory work by the contractor has already started,” said Mr Gatt.
Mr Gatt said that the first step will be to study the foundations of the building, since the area contains a lot of clay and as time goes by, the foundations are sinking.
“The project was based on ‘design and build’, and the contractor had to propose how this intervention would take place by means of experts. In this case, there was a system of piles from both sides of the building which reaches the deepest and most solid parts of the geology of the area. Then there are ties which will be tied from one side of the other of the piles, and in this way the foundation will be strengthened,” the Director of Restoration said.
He added that part of the building will have to be taken apart and re-built from scratch. Asked why the project was not finished by the end of last year as planned in order to benefit from European funds, Mr Gatt said that an appeal filed by the contractors who were not awarded the contract, delayed the project.
“By September we already realized that we would not manage to meet the deadline to finish it and we asked for this part of the project to be done using local funds during 2016, and we asked for those funds which had been allocated for the project from European Funds to be diverted to other projects which the Directorate was working on so that they would not be lost”, said Mr Gatt.
When the restoration is finished, the building will be handed over to the Mdina local council. Contacted by tvm.com.mt, Mdina’s Mayor, Peter Sant Manduca, said that an expression of interest has already been issued for the private sector so that Casino Notable will include an element of history and information combined with its commercial aspect as an eating establishment.
Built towards the end of the 19th century, Casino Notable was used by the noble classes in Rabat and Mdina as a venue for their recreation.