The Buskett project involves the rural and landscape rejuvenation and rehabilitation of Buskett gardens. Buskett gardens are the only woodland area in Malta and Verdala Palace, which is the official residence of the President of Malta, is located on the edge of the gardens. The task is ultimately to enhance the country’s heritage and patrimony by giving better access to the public and provide useful information on this subject.
This project involves the repair and possibly re-use of the existing structures, whether buildings, boundary walls or man made interventions. No physical structural alterations are intended to be carried out in the buildings and the walls and no additional structures are to be erected, although the dangerous retaining walls will be carefully rebuilt, some at a considerable expense. All works are being carried out using building materials and construction techniques which are akin to those existing.
Some retaining walls have been damaged and have collapsed due the forced passage of water. This would also have the effect of creating obstacles in the valleys. The existing structures in the site need urgent repair works particularly some of the arched bridges and arched buttresses which serve to provide lateral restraint for some retaining walls.
A detailed land use study, rural environment study including masonry repair methods, conservation methods and techniques, afforestation and general landscaping situation will be carried out. Where possible the reconstructed parts are being built from the original stonework, which in many cases has been left on site. An effort is being undertaken, to collect all disused stonework which is in good condition. The original individual stones are not being modified, cut or scraped in any way prior to their re-utilisation, but rather are being used as in their original state. If newly cut stone is used, it is of the same geological type, source, dimension and shape as the existing. This new stonework is architecturally compatible with the one replaced and will provide visual continuity. Any roots found in the joints between stonework are being carefully diverted and positioned behind walls.
Some stone walls need cleaning. If cleaning will be done, only low pressure, un-chlorinated water, free from organic matter, will be used to clean the wall faces and paint, cement and dirt will be removed by means of bristle brushes. The original patina of the masonry will not be tampered in any way, and no brushing, chipping scraping, blasting, sanding or hammering will be done.
Some of the stonework is laid without any mortar, but some stonework is laid in “soil” mortar. Mortar used for laying will be sand/lime based will have the same thickness as the original. Deteriorated mortar is being removed by hand-raking the joint to avoid damaging the masonry.
Any original pointing is being preserved and where possible cleaned. If new pointing is being done, a lime based mix is used possibly with no cement. The new pointing in all cases will have a uniform texture and colour and be compatible with the original masonry. If cement mortar is encountered, this is being replaced.