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The renovation of Esplora, the Royal Naval Hospital Bighi

Job site Royal Naval Hospital Bighi
Year 2014
City Kalkara
Area Malta

Client Irrecs, products provided by our distributor in Malta Philip A. Tabone
Designer DTR Architects
Intervention fields Structural interventions with lime based products

Back in time

The hospital was built in 1832 and served the eastern Mediterranean in the 19th and 20th centuries. Together with the RN Memorial Hospital at Mtarfa, they offered nursing and medical care to people from the nearby regions, in case of emergency. In 1967, during the second rundown of the British services and their employees in Malta, Bighi Hospital was about to close.

On September 17 1970 Bighi was closed down. In 1977 many areas of the building were occupied by the former Senglea Trade School while other sections accommodated a secondary school. Since 2010 the site housed the head office of Heritage Malta, the national agency for museums, conservation practice and cultural heritage.

Esplora Interactive Science Centre at Bighi was officially opened on October 26 2016. This place is encouraging children to make an interactive science experience with a huge variety of learning opportunities for everyone.

Esplora before renovation

Esplora project

This project was carried out by the "Malta Council for Science and Technology" under the chairmanship of Dr. Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando. The renovation of the historic hospital into the Esplora Interactive Science Centre has taken almost two and a half years to complete and its cost is around € 26 million. Esplora has been partly funded by EU funds, in order to develop a culture based on scientific curiosity and imagination.
Everybody at Esplora is encouraged to discover and explorate!

The renovated building now consists of several buildings and outdoor spaces. The main exhibitions halls and the landscaped gardens consists of over 200 exhibits.
The Planetarium is one of the biggest attractions found at Esplora, with a breath-taking 10.7-meter diameter structure. It includes a complete Colour space 4K theatre system.

Esplora before the renovation

The renovation with Kimia products

The building was restored using Tectoria PMP 115/F, a natural hydraulic lime-based mortar used for joints pointing. This product was customised for our distributor in Malta Philip A. Tabone


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