Mizzi Studio has designed a new electric fleet of buses for Malta that marries zero emissions technology with all the charm of the iconic traditional Maltese buses that were retired in 2011. Through our contemporary, eco-friendly reimagining, we hope to ignite a renewed sense of pride in Malta’s industrial and cultural heritage. Malta’s traditional, driver-owned buses were decommissioned as they no longer met EU standards for carbon emissions. Even so, these buses remain one of the country’s most recognisable emblems.
With our new designs, we aim to improve the environmental efficiency of Malta’s current diesel fleet whilst simultaneously bringing back the lost character that made the traditional buses so iconic. The old buses' chassis existed as bold emblems of the dynamic design of the 1950s and its forward-thinking style. Each vehicle was lovingly customised with painted images of cultural and religious references, making each bus as distinctive as the personality of its driver.
Over seven years of research and development, we have utilised our skills as an award-winning design practice to transport the Malta bus into the future. Our knowledge of the original buses has allowed us to cultivate a deep understanding of what made their design so captivating – from the cute hooded eyes and smiling chrome grill, to the subtle angel wing references and horseshoe badges to ward off evil spirits. We have converted decades of heartfelt decorative flourishes into a contemporary design. We have even reimagined the hand-painted line patterns and lettering (tberfil) - traditionally used to articulate features and emblazon the buses with slogans such as forever young - in digital form, paying homage to the craftsmanship and pride associated with the traditional buses and enabling the drivers to customise their bus once more.
Mizzi Studio’s proposal is for a fully electric, emission-free fleet that is in line with the EU’s long-term strategy for a climate-neutral future. The new fleet would also have a full vision panel at the front, state-of-the-art air conditioning and cooling systems, middle doors for efficient boarding and disembarking and low floors and ramps for disabled access – all features designed to make public transport a more appealing option and help to relieve traffic and associated pollution in Malta and Gozo.
“I fell in love with Malta’s colourful Art Deco buses as a child. They were so friendly, almost like Pixar Cars characters with their anthropomorphic features like their cute hooded headlamp eyes, split windscreens that gave them a puppy-dog eyes expression and large smiling chrome bumpers. To lose them was a devastating blow to Malta’s identity as they truly were one of our country’s greatest icons. Since 2012, my studio has been developing a state-of-the-art, eco-friendly bus that pays homage to its heritage and aims to fill the large cultural gap that was left behind. I hope the new fleet will enable us as a nation to move forward whilst staying true to ourselves, and make us proud to be Maltese.” – Jonathan Mizzi
A free public exhibition, Malta Bus Reborn, will be held July – September 2019 in Valletta. The exhibition will show in detail the steps in Mizzi Studio’s design process over a 7-year period, including the research and development that has informed the vehicle's technical and aesthetic features. Highlights of the exhibition will include a 1:6 scale model of the proposed bus, and a five-minute film produced by Stargate Studios, picturing the new bus on routes through some of the islands’ most picturesque locations.
Stargate Studios, 2D3D and special thanks to Heritage Malta and Arts Council Malta for their support