The Malta Independent on Sunday

Skyscraper­s and sunless apartments

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In Malta, the sun rises in the east around Delimara and completes its trajectory when it sinks in a glorious sunset over the horizon beyond the northern part of Dingli Cliffs. A daily occurrence which we take for granted. I doubt however if the sun’s trajectory occupied the mind of the developers who if their proposals are accepted will turn Malta into a second Dubai with skyscraper­s changing the Malta skyline forever. If the developers do not consider the trajectory of the sun of any importance, they need to think again. The architects should explain to their clients that however a building is placed in Malta, there will always be an area or side that will never face the sun even allowing for the small diurnal shift in the world’s apogee due to its lengthy orbit round the sun.

It is a fact that many buildings in Malta have sizeable chunks of their structure that do not enjoy the warmth of the sun. The lack of sun and warmth attracts bacterial mould, dampness, peeling paint and blackening of at the least external surfaces. Treatment is expensive and not always successful. One should be careful the apartment one buys does not lack sunshine in any part of it.

The skyscraper itself will cast a shadow on any other buildings near enough to cause the problems referred to above. A lower structure standing in the shadow will also be deprived of alternativ­e sources of energy such as solar panels.

In Malta we are blessed with ample amounts of sunlight which cuts our fuel bills. Turn Malta into a Dubai, Manhattan or Hong Kong and the need for fuel will increase thus wiping away any gains made by utilising alternativ­e energy sources.

Aesthetica­lly, skyscraper­s are an abominatio­n and a massive assault on our senses and culture. We are lucky that so far we are not living in concrete cages like others in major cities all over the world. One needs only to visit a sizeable town in Europe to experience the frenetic lives of its inhabitant­s who, five times a week, use their homes as dormitorie­s many miles away from their workplace. This is the effect skyscraper­s have on people. These structures enclose the mind and body hence the hurry scurry of their working life. Do we want that type of life in Malta? Have we taken leave of our values to turn Malta from its unique position of being different to other so-called more advanced places? Progress must take place sometime but it needs deep evaluation by independen­t bodies. Piecemeal developmen­t littering the country here and there just will not do. Malta is prey to those with money and influence but who care little if their laissez-faire approach to developmen­t alters the face of Malta and its environmen­t.

Joe Izzo Xghajra

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