Deconstructing British Colonial Architecture in Fortress Island Malta

  • 17:15

  • Minto House, Elliot Room
    20-22 Chambers Street
    EH1 1JZ

Join us for the Architectural History & Theory Seminar Series for 2023/24.

This event is taking place both in person and online. Please confirm how you wish to attend when reserving your ticket on Eventbrite. Instructions will be sent on how to find the venue and how to join online via email.

Speaker bio:

Conrad Thake is an associate professor in the Department of Art and Art History, University of Malta. He obtained a Ph.D. degree in Architecture from  
the University of California, Berkeley, USA. Thake has published extensively on various historical periods of Maltese architecture including Valletta and the legacy of the knights of the Order of St John and the British colonial period.  

He has lectured and presented papers at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, Paul Getty Research Centre, Los Angeles, and various international conferences of the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) and the European Architecture History Network (EAHN).


This lecture is a critical appraisal of British Colonial architecture in Malta placing it in its wider cultural, political, and imperial contexts. After the rule of the Order of St John (1530-1798) and a brief French interlude (1799-1801), Britain governed Malta, initially as a British Protectorate and then as colony of the British empire. For well over a century, the British Colonial authorities transformed the island into a strategic military base within the Mediterranean. For Britain, Malta’s importance emanated from geo-political considerations whereby both the garrisoned army camps and the naval base on the island served as a pivotal military nexus at the crossroads of the Mediterranean.

British colonial rule brought about major transformations within the island’s architecture, infrastructure, and landscape in response to the need of asserting the objectives of Imperial Britain. There was a subtle and sustained movement to impart an architectural over-layering especially within Valletta, that would be representative of Imperial British rule – this was achieved by various commemorative monuments, the construction of new imposing entrances to the walled city, and several monumental civic buildings such as the Royal Opera House.

Image: Scenographic backdrop to Kingsgate Valletta for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, 1953.

Book Zoom online at Eventbrite.  
Venue: Elliot Room (2.403), Minto House, 20 Chambers Street.