[WATCH] Design panel pours cold water on db project in St George’s Bay

A design advisory panel within the Planning Authority has argued that the size of the project proposed by the db Group in St George’s Bay is ‘out of scale with its context’

Photomontage of the City Centre project by the db Group in St George's Bay
Photomontage of the City Centre project by the db Group in St George's Bay

A 37-storey residential tower and a 17-storey hotel proposed for the ITS site is “out of scale with its context”, a design advisory committee has said.

In its submissions on the project proposed by the db Group for the site formerly occupied by the Institute of Tourism Studies, the committee added the bird-like structure on top of the hotel was a bit “over stated”.

It also noted that the visual impact statement carried out by independent consultants had indicated that the project would have a “high-adverse impact from all the distant views”.

The committee filed its submissions on the case today, hours before Pembroke residents will be holding a protest against the development.

While noting the focus on a proposed square at a lower level near the beach, the committee said there “is no clear and defined public open space on the upper side”.

The committee is part of the Planning Authority and gives advice on design issues. It only makes recommendations on design aspects of major projects and has no final say on the issue of permits.

However, the design committee’s views have a bearing on the case officer’s recommendation to the planning board, which has the final say.

The committee is currently chaired by architect and academic David Mallia, art historian Charlene Vella and architect Kevin Fsadni.

The committee described the relationship of the project with the adjacent streets and neighbourhood as difficult to assess.

“In an ideal situation the base building within such a scheme should fit harmoniously within the existing context and allow for clear and unobstructed views in and out of the site… The towers should be placed in such a way as to reduce visual impact and to allow the base building to be the primary defining element of the proposed design.”

The design concept of the project was developed with the assistance of MYGG, an architectural firm based in Milan.  

A design statement presented by Landmark architects for the developer compares the residential tower to a “green waterfall” and the iconic Skybar with a “majestic flying bird atop the Hard Rock Hotel… the latter cascading down in steps resembling a hanging garden”.

The architects had said the design strikes the perfect balance between innovation and simplicity, “without it being overly complex to the extent that it verges on marring the skyline”.

According to the developer's design statement the tower was located at the eastern part of the site, away from the Pembroke residential area. 

The location of the tower was chosen to be “sufficiently distanced and minimise shading onto the existing residential building” and away from the underground Għar Ħarq Ħamiem cave.

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