Floriana Ferris wheel photos show views from proposed ‘Malta Eye’

Eyesore or eyeful? Photomontages show Ferris wheel’s impact on views

Is a giant Ferris wheel at the Floriana granaries an intrusive eyesore for the historical skyline, or a welcome addition for tourists and locals alike to enjoy views and take some high-altitude selfies?

One can now judge on the basis of photomontages by the proponents of the 45m-high ‘Malta Eye’ which purport to show how the Ferris wheel will impact upon views from Valletta, Sliema and Senglea.

The photomontages show the wheel dominating the skyline of the granaries, obstructing the view of St Publius’ Church. When viewed from the Gardjola garden in Senglea, the wheel can be seen rising like a semi-circle crowning the Europa Centre building in Floriana. It will be barely visible when viewed from the Sliema ferries.

But the photomontage showing the impact of the wheel on views of Valletta from the granaries is not taken from the ground.

The proponents have also shown photomontages of views enjoyed from the Ferris wheel itself, ranging from the high-rise cacophony at Tigné to amazing views of Valletta.

The project has already stirred controversy in Floriana whose local council has recently written to the Planning Authority to insist that it vote in any eventual vote on the proposal. Local councils have a right to vote on all major projects which are decided upon by the PA’s planning board but have no vote when decisions are taken by the PA’s planning commission, which takes decisions on minor permits on a daily basis.

The council also said the wheel would disrupt the “overall grandeur” of the church and the landscape of the granaries, which are also scheduled as a Grade 1 feature.

The council asked for clarification on whether the structure would be erected on a permanent or temporary basis, noting that the implications would be greater if this is erected permanently. It also expressed concern on the loss of 31 car park spaces.

The Ferris wheel, described by its proponent as an “observatory structure” in an application to the Planning Authority, is set to include 36 capsules to each hold six persons.

The Superintendence for Cultural Heritage had called for an assessment of the ground’s stability, noting that the granaries are likely to extend below the car park area, and asked for photomontages of long distance views to assess the visual impact on the historical skyline and fortifications.

The proponent of the ‘Malta Eye’ is Liam Mangion, the sole owner of Extreme Events, and a shareholder in another popular amusement ride, Slingshot Malta.

When asked why this particular location was chosen, Mangion claimed that he has been studying and getting expert advice since 2008 to find a suitable location in Malta. “The proposed area ticks all the boxes for a successful and iconic attraction, respecting the surroundings, residents, heritage and skyline.”

Mangion dismissed any fears on the visual impact on Valletta, arguing that similar wheels are found in several leading world heritage locations, including UNESCO sites. “The wheel will produce a lot of smiles, excitement and positive marketing for our island, whilst respecting the skyline.”