Grenfell Tower fire – The Architects’ Council of Europe recalls the huge responsibility that architects and building professionals have to society

Planning Authority Shutdown

The Planning Authority has announced today that between the 8th and 22nd August 2017 (both days included), the Planning Authority will be shifting into a “Period of Inactivity”. It stated that “many businesses and other professions, use this period to recharge their batteries and get ready for the months ahead. We at the Planning Authority make […]

KTP reiterates urgent plea for Building Regulations

In a statement published earlier today, the Kamra tal-Periti made reference to the front-page article carried on the Times of Malta on 21st June, 2017 reporting the views of the President of the Chamber of Engineers on fire safety in Malta in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

The Kamra tal-Periti endorsed and supported the call for proper Building Regulations. The KTP has, over the last years, incessantly made public calls and lobbied successive governments, for the Building Regulation Office to be strengthened and given the resources it needs, so that Malta can finally have modern and appropriate building regulations, covering the full range of health and safety risks faced by building users. Politicians have, unfortunately, found it difficult to understand that Building Regulations, and Building Control, are different to, and separate from, Planning Permit conditions. This failure to understand the industry has resulted in a situation where the need for Building Regulations is treated with indifference – until something happens, and then there is a knee-jerk reaction for the industry to do something.

It added that this lack of awareness has resulted in a piecemeal approach, where various regulations fall under disparate pieces of legislation, weakly attempting at regulating the building industry through the planning process. Sanitary regulations (covering light and ventilation) – conceptually dating from the 19th century – fall, under one law, within the remit of the Planning Authority, and under another law, under that of the Health Department; Fire Safety guidelines fall under the indirect remit of the Civil Protection Department; Lifts Regulations fall under MCCAA; electricity regulations fall under a privatised Enemalta; drainage regulations fall under the Health Department, but also under the Water Services Corporation; accessibility issues are regulated by the KNPD; excavation, demolition and general construction regulations fall under the BRO; while health and safety on construction sites falls under the OHSA.

“These organisations have all relied on the planning process to enforce their own regulations to some degree. And the KTP reiterates that this is wrong.

The use, or abuse, of the planning process in this way has brought about three adverse consequences:

  1. The planning regulatory body is heavily focused on development control, to the detriment of its primarily role of vision, strategic planning, drawing up of master and local plans, and promotion of sustainable development;
  2. There is weak statutory focus, oversight and enforcement of building regulations;
  3. In the absence of state support for proper and modern Building Regulations, the professionals must fall back to the identification of foreign standards to apply to local construction, often arbitrarily, and without being sure that they are appropriate for Malta.

With specific reference to fire safety, the Kamra tal-Periti is aware that the Civil Protection Department has reached an advanced stage in the drafting of new regulations, particularly in response to the increased high-rise development. The Kamra tal-Periti would like to, yet again, appeal that such regulations are placed within a holistic and consistent system of Building Regulations, administered by the Building Regulation Office.

The Kamra tal-Periti reiterates its offer to place all its resources, both local and international, at the disposal of Government, to assist in the formulation of such Building Regulations, that would fall under the exclusive remit of the Building Regulation Office, and removed from the planning permit approval processes. It has already requested a meeting with the Minister, newly-appointed to assume political responsibility for this sector and looks forward to meeting him to discuss these important issues.”

UoM launches new MSc programmes in Sustainable Building Design & Building Services

The Department of Environmental Design in conjunction with the Department of Mechanical Engineering have announced two MSc programmes targeted at Periti and Building Services Engineers earlier today.

In a statement published today the UoM stated that “the ever-developing professions of the Perit and the Engineer, have evolved in tandem with today’s latest technological developments in buildings and services, towards a better quality of life. The protection of the environment is one sure way towards this goal. The now established reality of global warming has promoted a greater awareness of energy-conscious design as well as a cost-sensitive approach to buildings and their facility management.

Today a number of professionals in the building industry have resonated the need to develop further their career into disciplines related to sustainable building design, with a focus on energy efficiency of buildings, resource management and overall enhanced performance.

It is in this context that the need was felt for a new programme of studies in line with global trends, to provide a more specialised profession, focusing on the various disciplines in architecture and engineering and their allied fields of specialization in environmental design, high-tech building services and overall enhanced performance of buildings. It is with this in mind that the two Masters programmes have been launched; both have a selection study-units as common ground, and a joint design project at the end of the course.”

For more information on the two courses, please follow the links below.

MSc in Sustainable Building Design

MSc in Building Services

 

KTP clarifies LAND ARBITRATION BOARD Call

The President of the Council, Professor Alex Torpiano, has this morning announced that the deadline for submission of expressions of interest to assist the Land Arbitration Board is being extended to the 16th June 2017, as per below:

Act XVII of 2017

 Reference is made to the notice published in this newspaper on Friday, 19 May, 2017 with a call for expressions of interest for architects to serve on the Land Arbitration Board to assist the Arbitration Board in land valuation and other technical matters under Art. 56 (4) of Act No. XVII of 2017.

 This call is being extended until Friday, 16 June, 2017.

 Director and Registrar,

Civil Courts and Tribunals

 

Members are advised to inform the Department of Justice accordingly should they wish to be considered to serve on the panel of experts for this purpose.

Meanwhile, Profs Torpiano also stated that a meeting was held on the 8th June 2017 with the Department of Justice, and it was agreed that the declaration of good repute previously being requested to be provided by the Kamra tal-Periti is no longer required. Instead, the individual Periti applying to serve on the Board will be required to fill in a Due Diligence Form once their application is vetted, and wherein they will be required to declare, amongst other things, whether there have been any disciplinary proceedings by the Kamra tal-Periti in their regard.

Those Periti who previously served on the Board are required to re-apply.

KTP asks Government to protect industrial heritage in Marsa Power Station Site

In a statement published earlier today, the Kamra tal-Periti called on Government to identify and protect those buildings present within the Marsa Power Station Complex.

The Chamber referred to a recent conference organised by the Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation (GHRC) during which “the importance of the regeneration of certain degraded areas, yet ironically parts of the Power Station were being demolished as the conference was under way.”

Reference was also made to projects submitted by final year students of the Faculty of the Built Environment in 2016 explored various alternatives for the regeneration of Marsa, including the Power Station site. “The Faculty is of the opinion that while the demolition of the power station would clear up a tract of land that could be used to accommodate a wide range of uses, both commercial and civic, the value of the building itself is important as industrial and architectural heritage, and there is no reason why it cannot be preserved, and used as a spur for the redevelopment of the surrounding area. This opinion is shared by the Kamra tal-Periti” it said in its statement.

The Kamra also called on the setting up of a joint committee composed of the PA, SCH and Heritage Malta “to identify those buildings and areas that merit preservation and sustainable regeneration”.

Commonwealth Day 2017: A peace-building Commonwealth

Message from the Commonwealth Architects Association President:

 

As I join other Commonwealth Organisations from fifty-one other countries at Westminster Abbey for the Commonwealth Day Service on the occasion of Commonwealth Day 2017 I wish to send my greetings to all Architects’ Organisations in the Commonwealth.

Commonwealth Day, held on the second Monday in March each year, is an opportunity for individuals, communities and organisations to promote the Commonwealth’s shared values of peace, democracy and equality, and to celebrate the association’s rich diversity.

The theme chosen for this year’s Commonwealth Day is that of ‘A peace-building Commonwealth’. This is appropriate and important when considering the ever increasing instability and uncertainty in the world. As announced by the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland, Commonwealth Secretary-General, “the Commonwealth family of nations in its rich diversity becomes an ever more-needed source of strength and hope for all its members”. ‘A peace-building Commonwealth’ is a natural follow-on from the 2016’s theme of ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth’, and reaffirms the Commonwealth Charter’s principle that international peace and security, sustainable economic growth and development and the rule of law are essential to the progress and prosperity of all mankind.

The Commonwealth Charter expresses the commitment of Member States to the development of free and democratic societies and the promotion of peace and prosperity to improve the lives of all peoples of the Commonwealth. The Charter also acknowledges the role of civil society in supporting the goals and values of the Commonwealth.

The 2016 Global Peace Index highlighted the continuing deterioration in the overall global levels of peace. Among the 163 countries mapped, it found a widening gap between the most
and the least peaceful. Of the index’s chosen indicators “the impact of terrorism” and “political instability” showed the sharpest decline. The report attributes the global deterioration to
conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa and the associated international repercussions. The number of refugees and displaced persons doubled between 2007 and 2015 to nearly 60
million, accounting for more than 10% of the population in nine countries.

The Commonwealth Association of Architects is one of more than 80 intergovernmental, professional and civil society organisations within the Commonwealth family that can proactively engage with, and contribute towards, the pursuit and strengthening of peace through their work. As architects, we have a special place in all this as through our designs and buildings we contribute to the well being of society and to the quality of life of our citizens. Quality designs and buildings contribute to a better society and thus to a better world and more importantly to a better and peaceful world.

Our designs come in different forms and at different times during the development of the urban fabric; either in the design of new buildings or renovation of buildings in existing towns and cities or in the design of new settlements following war or conflict. Spontaneous construction and a lack of strong civil governance are symptomatic of post-conflict cities. The role for architects and architecture in addressing these challenges is crucial.

Rapid and often unplanned urbanization continues unabated and this is aggravating the impacts of a range of natural and man-made disasters. Armed conflict and the use of explosive weapons in densely populated areas cause death and injury amongst civilians; earthquakes inflict unique levels of devastation in cities, as do severe storms and floods. But urban areas can also offer sanctuary for the majority of internally displaced people and refugees.

Urbanisation intersects with climate change, natural disasters, conflict and displacement. It is a critical lens through which to review national and international efforts to prevent, prepare for
and respond to crisis, conflict and disasters. Moreover, displacement, conflict and natural disasters are increasingly becoming an urban phenomena.

These issues generate new challenges and in order to address such issues a number of initiatives at an international level have emerged.

It is of interest to note that CAA has recently joined the Global Alliance for Urban Cities which is a global, multi-disciplinary and collaborative community of practice. It is a ‘network of networks’ working to prevent, prepare for and effectively respond to humanitarian crises in urban settings. Its first milestone for progress was the Habitat III held in October 2016.

The Alliance promotes a vision of inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities and towns (as laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development) in which urban communities, their leaders and members have the power, capacities and resources to address the risks and reality of humanitarian crises, to mitigate crisis impacts on the most vulnerable, including the displaced, and to enable affected people to determine, with dignity, the course of their lives and their futures.

Let us hope that the theme of this day will be kept in our minds, not only throughout 2017, but also in years to come and that through our actions we will contribute to a peaceful Commonwealth and more importantly to a peaceful world.

 

Vincent Cassar
President

 

Commonwealth Day 2017: Message by Her Majesty The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth

Commonwealth Day 2017: Message by Commonwealth Secretary General

BRO announces new EPC Dwellings Assessors Course

The Building Regulation Office is inviting persons who with to attend these training courses to apply by downloading the form from the BRO website and submitting the application with proof of qualifications (original documents) to the

Building Regulation Office
Horn Works Ditch
Emvin Cremona Street
Floriana

Applications and payment for courses will be received from the 8th to the 22nd March 2017 on business days between 8am and 12pm.

The entry requirements for these courses are: a degree in architecture and civil engineer, or civil engineering, or building services, or mechanical, or electrical engineering conferred by the University of Malta, or an equivalent degree.

Further information may be obtained from bro@gov.mt or helpline 2292 7343 during office hours.

Digital submission of Third-Party Documentation to BRO

The Building Regulations Office has announced that as from Thursday 9th March 2017 all Third Party Documentation requested in LN 72/2013 is to be submitted to the Building Regulation Office in digitised format via e-mail to commencement.bro@gov.mt.  The permit number is to be inserted as the email subject to simplify the BRO’s internal processes.

The same email can be used to submit any queries or additional material.

The original bank guarantee should still reach the BRO in paper format. The processing of third party documents shall be processed only after the bank guarantee reaches the BRO.

For further information please refer to the Building Regulation Office’s website or call on 2292 7720.

 

KTP welcomes new Geoserver

The Planning Authority has recently launched a new online geographic information system (GIS) that allows users to access planning data in a fast, efficient and user-friendly manner, particular when compared with the previous system that had been in place for a number of years.


The new GeoServer provides significant functionality, and will also allow for the sharing of data gathered by other departments and authorities.


The Kamra tal-Periti congratulates the Planning Authority on the launch of its new portal, particularly in view of its speed and the upgraded graphic representation of data.