Gzira tower’s 9m mast ‘excessive’, PA design committee concedes

The cultural watchdog called on the PA to ensure this further increase in height does not have a negative impact on views of the Grand Harbour area

The 22-storey East 14 tower in Gzira
The 22-storey East 14 tower in Gzira

A piecemeal addition of a communications tower atop the 22-storey East 14 tower in Gzira has hit a snag. The Planning Authority’s design advisory committee says it is “somewhat excessive”.

The committee advises the PA on the visual impact of new buildings, and is chaired by architect David Mallia. Its two members are architect Kevin Fsadni, who replaced Ray Demicoli, and art historian Charlene Zammit.

The Superintendence for Cultural Heritage has also raised the alarm. “The proposed antenna will effectively increase the height of an already exceptionally high building.”

The cultural watchdog called on the PA to ensure this further increase in height does not have a negative impact on views of the Grand Harbour area.

The East 14 was originally approved in 2015 as a 65-metre high tower, but its height was increased to 84m in a successive application approved last year. With the third request, the communication tower would bring it up to 93.2 metres.

A piecemeal addition oft the communications tower
A piecemeal addition oft the communications tower

The original 16-storey tower was the first to be approved from the 2015 high-rise applications. The second application added five storeys last August, making room for five new residential apartments.

When the conservationist NGO Din l-Art Helwa expressed concern that at 16 storeys the building was already creating a negative visual impact on the area, the design committee noted that “the additional height will contribute to improve the proportion of the building.”

Now the committee has acknowledged that “the scale of the building has certainly made a presence in the skyline and long-range views”.

But it also deemed the architectural treatment as commendable and praised the “structural expression of cross-bracing on the facade, which gives an interesting dynamic look”.

The Superintendence for Cultural Heritage also gave its blessing to the project, concluding that the project will not impact negatively on Valletta views.

The East 14 project is owned by various shareholders, among them Sonnet Investments, JPK Investments, Marius Cordina and Paul Darmanin. The directors of the company are Ian Decesare and Marius Cordina.

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