Heritage watchdog objecting to Birkirkara house demolition

Superintendence strongly objects to Birkirkara village core demolition

Jason Mifsud’s Grand Property Holdings wants to build 15 apartments and three maisonettes instead of the vernacular building in Sqaq Karla. His architect is the former environment and planning minister George Pullicino
Jason Mifsud’s Grand Property Holdings wants to build 15 apartments and three maisonettes instead of the vernacular building in Sqaq Karla. His architect is the former environment and planning minister George Pullicino

The Superintendence for Cultural Heritage is strongly objecting to the demolition of an old vernacular building in the urban conservation area of Birkirkara, located just 90 metres away from St Helen’s parish church.

“The proposed development is an unacceptable intensification of development and will create an undeniable and negative impact both on the property and on the streetscapes in two streets within the Urban Conservation Area,” the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage said.

The Superintendence has warned that “the excavation may also pose a threat to the stability of neighbouring houses” and described the construction of a modern five-storey block as being “completely out of context to its historic surroundings”, raising questions on the point of having an Urban Conservation Area.

Jason Mifsud’s Grand Property Holdings wants to build 15 apartments and three maisonettes instead of the vernacular building in Sqaq Karla. His architect is the former environment and planning minister George Pullicino.

According to the cultural heritage watchdog, the building contains various original architectural features which are worthy of protection and retention.

These include the niche of St Joseph which forms part of the main façade. The niche was included in the National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands and includes a statue of St Joseph holding baby Jesus in his left hand and a lily stem in his right hand. The statue includes folded drapery and is resting on a small pedestal. The arched niche has an angular pediment topped by a cross, and a cornice at the bottom. Below the cornice is a metal hook and lamp and an inscription granting an indulgence by Mgr. Antonio Mario Buhagiar in 1886.

The statue is painted in white, while the niche is painted in greyish blue.

The building’s internal architectural features include double thickness walls, arches, xorok, kileb and wooden beams“ which should be retained as existing”.

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