Twice as many apartments as there are car spaces

Picture taken of Ta'Fatima Church in the 1960s. Both villas pictured in the bottom left. Credit: Thorsten Maier

In the recent application, brought to light by Newsbook.com.mt, a proposed development in Pieta is offering half as many parking spaces as there are proposed apartments. The development, a modernistic apartment group of 114 apartments is only proposing 69 paring spaces in an area already congested with parking.  According to a local Pietá resident Thorsten Maier, its ‘astonishing’ that there are so few garages planned for the apartments. With so many people projected to live and work in the complex and likely using cars to go to and from the location, he believes it is just not enough to meet the demand.

Let us safeguard #Pietà's largest garden and the two remarkable post-war villas in Triq Santa Monica right next door to Ta'Fatima Church and in sight of #VillaGuardamangia. 114 flats. Retails for whom? Offices. Questiobable architecture. And only 69 car spaces. This 'wall of #greed' has to be prevented for the sake of Tal-Pietà. More: PA/08271/18Location of development: Villa Gauci and The Orange Grove, Triq Santa Monika c/w, Triq id-Duluri, Pieta, MaltaDescription of works: Proposed demolition of 2 villas and one dilapidated farm house, construction of 1 office (class 4A), 3 retail (class 4B) , 114 apartments including penthouses, proposed botanic garden, communal pool and underlying 3 levels of basement garages (44 garages, 25 car spaces, substation and refuse area).

Posted by Pietà Heritage Society on Tuesday, January 8, 2019

‘We’re not talking about average cars and most Maltese don’t have a Smart.’ he said.

Added to this, is the fact that the street itself provides a limited amount of street parking for the local residents already living on the other side of the road. Then is the added prospect that the majority of families will have more than one car meaning up to 250 more cars competing for space. That means more traffic.

With the plans being still at the early stage, he suggests that the numbers be equalised and that the locals access to car parking be protected.

The black line indicates the location of the proposed development area.

New development does not need to hurt

‘If we plan the buildings in a good way, it will be embraced in a good way. If people love it, they will take care of it,’ said Thorsten Maier. The prospect of developing something modern for the area is not bad, Thorsten Maier, a local Pieta resident and the original poster of the story, says. He is part of the Pietá Heritage Society raising questions about the overall design and practicality. Having studied architecture, he believes the development should be ‘modern, but good modern, not just shoe-boxes. Malta builds too many of those’.

You have to think long term

Pietá is a very old area but there has to be a compromise on how the new development incorporates the new and the existing features of area. It should not simply mirror the street opposite, nor should it be a clone of current Maltese construction practices, he says.

It’s important to embrace modern architecture with this development, but it has to be something quality and ensure it ‘lasts longer than the 5-10 years before crumbles’. He despairs that so much of Maltese residential architecture is constructed too quickly with only a short term lifespan in mind. Instead, he suggests the investor should be thinking about designing something that is looking to 50 – 60 years in the future.  It also has to be something that uses the features of the current site, be they the baroque fountain, the greenery and the quirkiness of the existing Villa Gauci and Orange Grove as features to define the overall design.

Ta’Fatima Church, Villa Gauci, Orange Grove
Credit: Thorsten Maier

A place like this has to be worth living in, but that’s what really grinds his gears about the interior. ‘It looks like squeezing people into dark caves’, he says.

Upon looking at the plans, Maier is concerned that the floor plans for the apartments show a corridor like architecture with rooms leading off them.  If people are supposed to love where they live, this not somewhere he finds very appealing to spend time in.

‘You need to build rooms with windows, ventilation, somewhere people can enjoy living in, not somewhere you can barely turn around in. Not just somewhere to go to work from, or to come home at night. You’re basically just sleeping there.’

We need to find a compromise 

It’s clear throughout the rainy conversation on Triq Sant Monika that Maier welcomes the development but he also believes that the developers should be open to compromise.

In his original post, Maier had expressed his concerns over the fact that views of the Ta’Fatima church would be affected by the five storey development.

Villa Gauci
Credit: Thorsten Maier

He believes compromising on the size of the building and apartments, to make it more liveable for families, actually ensures the land is used more effectively.

It’ll also be good for the neighbourhood and the local businesses, he says. ‘If we plan the buildings in a good way, it will be embraced in a good way. If people love it, they will take care of it.’

Based on the previous statements from the architect, there are some plans to alter the façade of the complex.