SOS Hondoq News

Monday, October 26, 2009

Il-Kunsill Lokali tal-Qala mhux se jippartecipa fil-process ta’ konsultazzjoni

Pubblikata fuq it-Torca nhar il-Hadd 25 ta' Ottubru, 2009 minn Victor Vella.

Il-Kunsill Lokali tal-Qala kiteb lill-Awtorità tal-Ambjent u l-Ippjanar (MEPA) u infurmahom li l-kunsill lokali mhux se jippartecipa fl-ebda process ta’ konsultazzjoni sakemm ma jkollux f’idejh kopja finali tar-rapport tat-traffiku li qed jithejja.

F’ittra li nkitbet mis-Sindku tal-Qala, Paul Buttigieg u li t-Torca ghandha kopja, titlob li d-data tal-laqgha pubblika fuq il-progett ta’ Hondoq ir-Rummien tigi ffissata wara li jitlesta ir-rapport dwar it-traffiku u wara li jkun evalwat mill-kunsill. Din it-talba ma æietx accettata mill-MEPA.

Il-kunsill fir-risposta tieghu lill-MEPA qal li “dan mhux accettabbli u l-kunsill mhux lest li jippartecipa fl-ebda process ta’ konsultazzjoni sakemm ma jkollux f’idejh kopja finali tar-rapport dwar it-traffiku. Dawn il-mizuri qeghdin jigu mehuda ghax bhala rapprezentanti tar-residenti Qalin, qatt ma nistghu immorru ghall-laqgha pubblika mihghajr ma nkunu nafu l-impatt tat-traffiku fuq it-toroq tal-lokalità taghna. Aktar u aktar meta nafu mill-figuri, li t-traffiku fil-lokalità mhux biss se jirdoppja imma f’certi cirkostanzi se jittrippla.”

L-ittra tal-kunsill tghid li “bizzejjed nghidlek li meta analizzajna id-draft tar-rapport tal-impatt tat-traffiku, l-istharrig u l-analizi li saret qatt ma kkonsidraw ic-centru tal-lokal fejn l-aktar li qed nahsbu li jista’ jkun hemm impatt u lanqas gew ikkunsidrati t-toroq dojoq li jinsab fic-centru tal-Qala b’wisa’ ta’ 4.4 metri. F’dawn ic-cirkostanzi, l-Kunsill Lokali ma jista’ qatt jaffronta lir-residenti minghajr ma jaf minn fejn se jghaddi it-traffiku, x’impatt se jkollu fuq it-toroq u r-residenti u jekk hemmx alternattivi.”

Il-Kunsill Lokali qal li “ghaldaqstant jekk il-process tal-laqgha pubblika se jibqa’ ghaddej kif ippjanat minghajr ma ahna ikollna kopja f’idejna tar-rapport dwar it-traffiku, il-kunsill lokali mhux lest li jattendi ghal din il-laqgha pubblika.”

Fl-ittra lic-Cermen tal-MEPA, is-Sindku tal-Qala jghid li “ktibt lilek ghax lil kull min kellimt filwaqt li qablu li ghandna ragun, qaluli li din id-decizjoni gejja min fuq. Filwaqt li nittama li tifhem li dan il-progett se jhalli impatt fuq il-Qala u l-Qalin kollha b’mod partikolari t-traffiku, nittama li t-talba taghna tigi mhux biss ikkunsidrata izda fuq kollox milqugha.”

Fl-ahhar jiem, studenti li llum qeghdin fir-raba’ sena tal-kors tal-arkitettura fl-Università ta’ Malta, hejjew pjanti u pjani ta’ kif jista’ jsir progett f’Hondoq ir-Rummien minghajr ma jithassar l-ambjent u fuq kollox il-post jibqa’ gawdut minn kulhadd u mhux minn ftit nies biss.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hondoq ir-Rummien designs

Published on The Malta Independent on Sunday on 25th October, 2009 by Joseph Borg.

The article by Annaliza Borg that dealt with the design for Hondoq ir-Rummien paid worthy tribute to three young architecture students (TMIS, 18 October).

It so happened that I actually did see the projects myself, and especially appreciated the extremely lovely posters they had prepared. Unfortunately, I am more than sure that the monetary award they received did not cover all the expenses they incurred. I also hope that their designs will not be hijacked by someone who will get a hefty six per cent commission minimum.

If anything, such projects should be put on hold until these students graduate and can take charge of the project.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ħondoq through the eyes of students

Published on The Times of Malta on Monday 19th OCtober, 2009 by Fiona Galea Debono.

The future of Gozo’s Ħondoq ir-Rummien may still be in the balance but if it were up to a bunch of architecture students, it would be turned into an innovative nature park, complete with a submerged kiosk, an imaginative use of the quarries – and no yacht marinas.

The merging of water, heritage and nature was the driving force behind the design of three fourth-year students, the recipients of the Julian Manduca Award for the Sustainable Development of Rural Areas.

They have made it a point not to build over existing resources but to use the quarries, creating a spiral Guggenheim-style ramp in one, ensconced in a perforated nest on which vegetation can grow abundantly.

The award is the initiative of environment NGO Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar in synergy with the university and the Qala local council. FAA and the University chose the setting, in this case Ħondoq ir-Rummien, and architecture students submitted their proposals for the site – which is subject to a real development application for a yacht marina strongly opposed by environment groups.

The winners of the prize, Joseph Galea, Nicky Psaila Savona and Zack Xuereb Conti know the site inside out, having visited it regularly for a year. Their plans may not materialise but they offer an “eye opener for possibilities, even just taking elements of it”. They have steered clear of the “common way of making profit in Malta – through bulky construction”, considering the site from the environmental and social aspect, and how money can be generated from that. The area is geared up for a number of activities, including diving, boċċi and even folk entertainment near a rehabilitated fort.

The project is complete with dampers to counter the waves and underwater fins to collect energy from the currents to use on the site.

“These technologies exist and work – they are not just there for show,” the future architects explained.

A second award, the Tony Attard Award for Urban Conservation Area Projects, which focuses on conservation, has still to be awarded. Students have come up with some innovative ideas to clean up Valletta, including the shop fronts by the use of identical signage and matching canopies. The law courts have been redesigned; shopping arcades have been spruced up and are looking uniform; while the development of inaccessible dead roof space is considered “a revived resource”.

Old façades cover contemporary interiors and a fashion house plays with the lacy effect of wrought-iron grills, typical of the city, while retaining its architectural idiom.

An exhibition with the projects of the students for those for Ħondoq ir-Rummien and Valletta is being held at the Heritage Malta offices in Merchants Street, Valletta and will run till Wednesday.

To vies the comments, go to

University students design alternatives to Hondoq’s yacht marina

Published on on 21st October, 2009.

Fourth year University students have designed alternatives to the Hondoq Ir Rummien yacht marina project.

The alternatives include a nature park with a submerged kiosk … well, anything but a yacht marina.

The project is in collaboration with the University of Malta, Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Moviment Harsien Hondoq and the Local Council of Qala.

Paul Buttigieg, Qala local councilor said: “This project was aimed at creating awareness for our heritage, so that it can be enjoyed by both the locals and the tourists.”

Astrid Vella, FAA coordinator said: “FAA wished to do something positive to the country and set up these awards in conjunction with the university. The awards are aimed at making tomorrow’s architects sensitive to the particular needs of these areas.

The winners of the Julian Manduca Award for the Sustainable Development of Rural Areas award are: Joseph Galea, Nicky Psaila Savona and Zack Xuereb Conti.

To view the photos and comments, go to

University students provide design solution for Hondoq

Published on on 22nd October, 2009.

Architecture awards set up by Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar (FAA) in conjunction with the University Architecture Department are sensitising tomorrow’s architects to the particular needs of rural and historic areas. “FAA wanted to create something positive that would contribute to the nation so they set up the Julian Manduca Award for sustainable development of rural areas and the Tony Mifsud award for urban conservation projects” explained Sir Martin Laing, opening the award ceremony on behalf of FAA.

The award programme included lectures on subjects that students would not otherwise have been exposed to like beach management as well as the chance to work on ‘real’ rather than theoretical projects, providing sustainable alternatives to current problems. In fact the rural award required students to design a nature park at Hondoq ir-Rummien as an alternative to a commercial touristic and yacht marina project. “Unfortunately in Malta many people think that architecture does not contribute to a healthy environment,” said Professor Denis de Lucca, head of the Architecture Department “however with careful planning and ‘good manners’ in architecture, this is not the case.”

Paul Buttigieg, Qala local councillor stated that the Hondoq ir-Rummien project sponsored by Qala Local Council with the collaboration of Moviment Harsien Hondoq, was aimed at creating awareness for local environment and heritage, so that it can be enjoyed by both locals and tourists. Although the project seems very innovative as it includes a submerged bar, zero-emission transport and many other novel features, it is in fact very practical and each of its modules is possible to implement.

The Tony Mifsud award is focussed on Valletta where the students faced the challenge of converting an old building for contemporary uses like a gym, library, media centre or fashion expo house. The students also had to produce designs to create a harmonious uniformity for different blocks of shop fronts on Republic Street, another project where the Local Council can actually use the students’ ideas. As in the Hondoq project, great emphasis has been laid on energy efficiency and access for the disabled.

While the Valletta project has not yet been adjudicated, the winners of the Julian Manduca Award Joseph Galea, Nicky Psaila Savona and Zack Xuereb Conti all commented favourably on the fact that the award gave them the chance to interact with clients like the Qala Local Council and Qala residents, while also giving them the opportunity to deal with the media and show their work to potential future employers. The Architecture Awards have also been supported by the US Embassy which donated books to the University Architecture Department while Heritage Malta kindly hosted the student’s project exhibition.

To view the comments, go to

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Students design nature park for Hondoq ir-Rummien

Published on the Malta Independent on Sunday 18th October, 2009 by Annaliza Borg.

Three students following the architecture and urban design course at the University of Malta have won the Julian Manduca Award for Sustainability with their idea for an architectural project at Hondoq ir-Rummien, Qala.

Joseph Galea, Nicky Psaila Savona and Zack Xuereb Conti planned to turn the run down site into a nature park, incorporating the natural environment and social and heritage aspects. They believe that the quarry could be turned into a nature park after being properly cleared.

Other projects are currently waiting adjudication for the Tony Mifsud Award for Urban Conservation, for which students were given the challenge of tidying up and unifying shop fronts in Republic Street, Valletta.

Hondoq ir-Rummien was a very controversial subject, as a proposed project for the area was described as having a considerable negative impact on the environment. The Hondoq ir-Rummien site stretches from the disused quarry, located to the north, down to the derelict concrete wharf and encompasses the adjacent public sandy beach.

The award was made possible by Flimkien ghall-Ambjent Ahjar in collaboration with the Architecture and Urban Design Department and Qala Local Council. Moviment Harsien Hondoq, Nature Trust and the Ramblers Association also contributed to studies on the area, while the US embassy sponsored the award by donating books to the Architecture and Urban Design Department.

The students came up with a master plan to turn the quarry into a landscaped park and erect a hostel, a submerged kiosk and a heritage trail. A water garden, a splash pond and a water sports area would be included and the public area would be increased.

Flagstones quarried from site, a treated steel structure enclosed in lightweight mesh and recycled material would be among the resources used. The plan is to run the site by totally sustainable means, including solar energy and wind scoop ventilation. Natural spring water will be diverted to create a pond and drinking water fountains.

The park is in a spiral form to be accessible to everyone and afford maximum views. It would be totally accessible to disabled people, including the visually impaired, and zero-emission transport and the use of bicycles will be encouraged.

A forestation project using carob, olive, pomegranate, prickly pear and fig trees, as well as caper bushes, is envisaged. The site has been planned around water, heritage and nature, while keeping in mind the needs of local residents as well as the social and economic benefits.

The intention of the project was for students to think beyond the theoretical aspect. However, it could well become a reality in the future.

Ultimately it serves as an eye opener for developers but even parts of it can be carried out.

Friday, October 02, 2009

‘Biased’ report gives thumbs-up to Hondoq project

Published on MaltaToday on Sunday, 27th September, 2009 by James Debono.

‘Yes to the Hondoq ir-Rummien Yacht Marina’. So ran the title to the summary of an environmental impact statement for the controversial Hondoq ir-Rummien marina, in Gozo.

Like this obvious title, several comments on the impact report compiled by Environment Management Design Planning (EMDP) have been removed after MEPA Natural Heritage Panel deemed them to be “biased” in favour of the marina project.

The report was prepared for Gozo Prestige Holidays Ltd, which wants to develop a marina, hotel and tourist complex in a derelict quarry at Hondoq.

MEPA’s natural heritage panel claimed EMDP’s statement had shown “a certain bias in [its] remarks,” referring specifically to the title of the non-technical summary which was deemed to be “most inappropriate” by the Panel.

The report claimed that the project “cannot and indeed should not be hidden” and that its visual impact would be “positive if all mitigation measures are strictly put in place”.

But the panel said such comments were “purely subjective opinions which have no place in an EIA report.”

In another section, the report recommended “a good public relations exercise” when it comes to dealing with mega-project’s visual impact.

The panel again said the suitability of such comments in an EIA report were “dubious”.

The panel’s objections later led EMDP to remove “comments which could possibly be interpreted as biased”.

But they defended themselves from the accusation of being biased insisting that their assessment was independent and conformed to international standards.

“Nevertheless it is important to note that impacts are to be assessed and a certain amount of judgement in such interpretation has to be involved,” the EIS coordinator replied. They also claimed that any such judgements were based on the conclusion of scientific reports.

The EIS was finalized in 2007 but is still being reviewed by MEPA. The natural heritage panel has however declared that, from a strictly natural heritage aspect, the negative impact of the project “outweighs the positive aspects.”

It warned that the project would generate large quantities of construction waste due to excavation, for which no disposal space was available in Gozo.

But it welcomed the fact that the quarry will be rehabilitated. “From a land-use point of view, the project will take up land which has already been damaged by quarrying, and if such a project is deemed indispensable for Gozo, it would be preferable to locate it on an already degraded site.”

However, it said the option of filling the disused quarry with the construction waste was only “superficially explored in the EIS”. On their part the consultants claimed that using the quarry to dump inert waste will increase the risk of dust being blown in to the sea.