A photomontage of the proposed Fort Cambridge development, which does not take into account another tower proposed for the area.
The proposed 40-storey hotel at Fort Cambridge in Sliema is a project that is being studied in isolation and it lacks long-term planning, according to three prominent architects.
The architects – Edward Said, Richard England and Conrad Thake – were reacting to reports by this newspaper on the assessment of the development, which concluded that the environmental and cultural impact would be of high significance, with no possible measures to limit the damage.
The environmental planning statement submitted to the Planning Authority last week, a necessary step in development applications of this nature, stated that “the scale of the proposed development would undermine the value of the landscape… with no scope for mitigation”.
“The project is being studied in isolation, the information that is being given is in isolation, without any information on what is being proposed in the vicinity as well as the combined impact of that on the way of life of the residents,” Mr Said said.
Prof. England agreed, adding that such developments required a clear “master plan” as well as a profound study of the impact this could have on traffic and infrastructure in the area.
We are blindly giving in to the glitz and glamour we see in countries in Asia and the Middle East
“Otherwise, the whole thing is going to burst. You also need an economic masterplan. But this is unfortunately not being carried out,” Prof. England said.
The only way having such high-rises in Malta could possibly work, Prof. England said, was if these were to be somehow constrained to one specific zone.
“We can’t have one skyscraper there, another one somewhere else. If we do, the whole traffic system, the whole infrastructure, the whole economic system even, will collapse,” Prof. England went on.
Another issue of concern to the architects was the lack of local identity injected in such developments. They argued that the value of local heritage was being undermined in favour of such projects.
“We are blindly giving in to the glitz and glamour we see in countries in Asia and the Middle East. We get them, lock, stock and barrel, and import them on this tiny island,” added architect Conrad Thake, who was also present at the conference.
The 40-storey hotel, designed for the business traveller and high-end tourist, would consist of a tower built within the footprint of the existing 19th-century building located to the south of Fort Cambridge, which was originally constructed as living quarters (barracks) for British military personnel posted there.
Photomontages of the impact on the landscape do not take into account the 38-storey tower proposed for the Townsquare project on the old Union Club site in the vicinity. This has been met with over 300 objections since the proposal was made public last summer.