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PR 07/19 | Kamra tal-Periti presents its vision for national building and construction regulation

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Yesterday (11th April 2019), members of the Council of the Kamra tal-Periti presented the Chamber’s vision for an overhaul of the current building regulations, which are both outdated and insufficient to ensure the highest standards of quality in the construction industry. This vision was presented to the Honourable Mr Chris Agius, Parliamentary Secretary for Planning and the Property Market, representatives of the Building Regulation Office (BRO) and the Building Industry Consultative Council (BICC), as well as consultants appointed by Government to oversee the establishment of a new Authority which is intended to regulate the industry.

Perit Simone Vella Lenicker, President of the Kamra tal-Periti, explained that the proposals being presented were approved by an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Chamber held last November, and confirmed the Kamra’s full availability to participate in discussions regarding the formulation of new building regulations, as well as the technical expertise of its members to ensure the highest standards within the sector.

Vice President Perit André Pizzuto gave an extensive presentation of the Kamra’s position, starting with an overview of the current situation and its limitations. He then went on to outline the Kamra’s proposals which include the consolidation of various regulators within the new Authority, the dire need for a comprehensive register of contractors, the importance of contemporary regulations which are not prescriptive but performance-based, and the promotion of a self-regulatory approach by the various professionals involved in the construction process.

The Kamra’s proposals were received positively, and discussions will continue in the coming months to ensure full synergy between the profession and the government’s advisors.

 

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PR 06/19 | Architecture is a discipline for the common good

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 “The focus will be put on architecture as a discipline that encompasses the right balance between cultural, social, economic, environmental and technical aspects for the common good”.

This quote is taken from the European Council Conclusions for the 2018-22 EU Work Plan for Culture, under the topic “High-quality architecture and built environment for everyone.” This important milestone signifies a paradigm shift within the European Union, which has recognised architecture as a discipline for the common good. This is an important recognition that can serve as the basis on which we can build our policies and work in the future.

In a statement issued on the 5th March 2019, Georg Pendl, current President of the Architects’ Council of Europe (ACE), stated that this “shows that the EU institutions no longer define architecture as being solely part of the construction industry. Does our profession share this limited point of view? Mostly not, bearing in mind that over 90% of architectural offices are small and medium-sized or micro enterprises. But, this does not mean that we would cease to recognise our role as a part of the service sector tightly connected to the construction industry.

The Kamra tal-Periti, which is a Member of the ACE, had actively lobbied for the recognition of the practice of architecture as one of the pillars of culture. It had, in fact, met with MEP Dr Francis Zammit Dimech, who is a Member of the European Parliament Committee for Culture and Education, and who had pushed forward the views of the Kamra and of ACE on this matter.

It is therefore with great satisfaction that the Kamra welcomes this development, and looks forward to seeing this approach being adopted locally.

PR 05/19 | New Kamra tal-Periti Council meets with Minister Ian Borg

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On the 14th March 2019, the new Council of the Kamra tal-Periti held its first meeting with the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Capital Projects Honourable Dr Ian Borg. The meeting focussed on the Council’s plans for the coming two years, which will be highlighted by the commemoration of two centenaries, namely enactment of the Architects’ Ordinance in 1919, and the subsequent establishment of the Kamra tal-Periti in 1920.

The Kamra’s President, Perit Simone Vella Lenicker, explained that the Council had identified a number of focus areas for 2019 – 2020. The most important of these concerns the legislative amendments to the Periti Act, which the Kamra has been discussing with subsequent governments for over 10 years, and which have now reached the final stages of drafting pending Parliamentary approval. The Council has also been working a proposals for a new Building Regulation Framework, which was endorsed by the profession at a General Meeting held last November, and which is now ready for formal presentation to the Ministry. There was agreement on both sides to focus on these two matters in earnest over the coming months.

In addition, the Council outlined its plans regarding the issuance of various practice guidelines for the profession specifically regarding advertising of services and compliance with GDPR, the centenary events, the impacts of Brexit on the local market and on professionals working in the UK, as well as various other projects that will be announced in the coming months.

Read more about the KTP Council

 

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PR 04/19 | Specialised Housing Programmes

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Sustainable communities

For many years, the Kamra tal-Periti has been promoting the concept that projects undertaken through public funding should be awarded on the basis of design competitions, evaluated on the basis of their contribution to the social and built environment. The adoption of such a process would go a long way towards ensuring that society is provided with the best quality projects.

It is therefore with great pleasure that the Kamra tal-Periti announces its collaboration with the Parliamentary Secretariat for Social Accommodation and the Housing Authority in the establishment of a new scheme for Specialised Housing Programmes (SHPs)

The objective of the SHPs is to identify vulnerable user groups and provide suitable accommodation which is designed around the principles of social inclusion, environmental well-being and spatial quality. In line with this ethos, the adoption of the design competition process for the procurement of the design aspect of the scheme will ensure that the highest levels of quality are achieved.

The Union of International Architects, of which the Kamra is a member, also promotes design competitions as “a quality-based and solution-oriented selection procedure for architectural services, the best way to achieve quality in the built environment. A competition provides the best solution for a concrete task, selected from among several entries by the jury. Therefore it guarantees high value and the optimal concept for the client and the users.

The scheme was initially launched last week by the Honourable Roderick Galdes, Parliamentary Secretary for Social Accommodation. Yesterday, a number of NGOs attended an information session where more details were provided about the scheme. Perit Simone Vella Lenicker, President of the Kamra tal-Periti, presented the design competition process to those present, outlining that NGOs will be able to select the property that will house their proposed project from a number of properties that will be made available by Government. Following an initial process of shortlisting, warranted periti will be able to submit design proposals for one or more of the shortlisted projects, which proposals will then be assessed by a jury composed of members appointed by the Kamra and the Board established to oversee the scheme.

The Kamra tal-Periti will shortly be issuing a call for Expressions of Interest for periti interested in participating in the process.

 

Further information:

https://housingauthority.gov.mt/en/Pages/Schemes/Specialised-Housing-Programmes.aspx

 

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PR 03/19 | Perit Vincent Cassar awarded the RIBA Presidential Medal

On the evening of the 14th February 2019, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) bestowed the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture 2019 on Sir Nicholas Grimshaw CBE, PPRA, who is well known for his modernist buildings, including Waterloo International railway station and the Eden Project in Cornwall. With a career spanning six decades, Sir Grimshaw was recognized for his “indelible contribution to contemporary architecture. His practice is recognized internationally for its finely crafted and technically pioneering approach to the design of buildings, infrastructure and civic projects”.

On the same evening, Perit Vincent Cassar, a Past President of the Kamra tal-Periti and current President of the Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA), was awarded the RIBA Presidential Medal in recognition of the beneficial contribution and collaboration between CAA and RIBA, and to stimulate further dialogue between the two organisations.

The Medals were bestowed as part of the “RIBA Royal Gold Medal and Fellowships Week”, held between the 12th and 14th February 2019 in London, which event attracted a number of Presidents of international, regional and local organisations.

 

Sir Nicholas Grimshaw (left) with Perit Vincent Cassar

 

RIBA Royal Gold Medal and Fellowships Week

The week started off with an International Presidents’ roundtable with the participation of 12 Presidents, including: Georg Pendl, President of the Architects’ Council of Europe (ACE); Thomas Vonier, President of the International Union of Architects (UIA); Victor Leonel Miguel, President of the Africa Union of Architects; and Rita Soh, President of ARCASIA. The roundtable was chaired by Ben Derbyshire, President RIBA, and focused on the “Future of the Profession” statement which was signed by the Presidents of the five architecture institutes of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The Presidents of these five institutes came together to critically examine and reassert the role and value of architects in serving clients and society and have committed to:

  1. Place the public interest and value to society at the heart of all we do – by promoting the highest ethical standards and ensuring codes of conduct are continually strengthened;
  2. Be accountable, and the Gold Standard – by protecting the public and maintaining the highest standards of architectural education;
  3. Reflect the diversity of the population in our workforce – by adopting reforms and policies that promote diversity and inclusion within business practices;
  4. Research, build and share essential knowledge – by developing and disseminating the body of knowledge embedded within the profession;
  5. Lead our profession in the fight for a more sustainable built environment – by placing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a key guiding principle in all they do.

Following an overview by the RIBA President of these five goals, the participants split into three groups to discuss three topics, namely, education, public interest and networking, the latter of which was put forward by Perit Cassar during the roundtable discussion. He also emphasised the need to act on these issues now, rather than allowing them to remain on paper. The roundtable resolved that there was the need to (i) act on sharing knowledge on policy issues, (ii) ensure more Regional collaboration, and (iii) establish a global network for sharing ideas and knowledge.

A presentation of Int FRIBA (RIBA International/Honorary Fellowships) also took place on the 12th February. The RIBA has throughout its history honoured men and women who have made a major contribution to the world of design and architecture. Any architect outside the United Kingdom who is not a UK citizen, and who has a demonstrable interest in the objectives of the RIBA and exhibits distinction and a breadth of contribution to architecture, may be elected an International Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects. The lifetime honour, conferred annually, was this year conferred on six recipients.

The RIBA also awards RIBA Honorary Fellowships, to acknowledge the contributions made by the recipients to architecture in its broadest sense, its promotion, administration and outreach, its role in building more sustainable communities, and its role in the education of future generations. This year nine recipients received the award.

RIBA Fellow Member status is awarded to inspiring RIBA members who represent the diversity, talent, and dynamism of architecture and the built environment. The attributes that lie at the heart of RIBA Fellow Membership are positive contributions to architecture, from working with poorer communities, to designing infrastructure abroad, and the desire to support, influence and affect change. Eight recipients received this annual honour this year.

As part of the celebrations of the 2019 Royal Gold Medal, the RIBA Education department hosted the RIBA President’s Medals Student Crit 2019. Since 2006, the RIBA has organised a Critique (Crit) event where the winners of the President’s Medals present their award-winning work to a panel of experts comprising the Royal Gold Medallist as a guest of honour. The intention of this annual event has been to bring together the RIBA’s oldest awards in a celebration of past, present and future architectural talent, with an expert panel using their experience and expertise to critique the award-winning work produced by the President’s Medallists.

The recipients of the RIBA President’s Medals during the Student Crit

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PR 02/19 | Affordable Housing Benefit

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The Council of the Kamra tal-Periti notes with satisfaction that one of its recommendations in its consultation reply on the Rent Reform White Paper has been introduced earlier this afternoon by Minister Edward Scicluna and Parliamentary Secretary Roderick Galdes. The Kamra tal-Periti had published its consultation feedback on 30th November 2018, and put forward several recommendations and observations, including the conversion of rent subsidies into a housing allowance similar to the British housing benefit.

It had also recommended, however, that Government should keep in mind the risk that increasing liquidity in the rental market coupled with sustained population growth would result in further inflationary pressures. In the Kamra’s view, therefore, it is imperative that Government monitor closely the effects of this reform on the rental market on a continuous basis to be able to calibrate the balance between affordability and rent inflation.

Nevertheless, this measure alone will not address the problems of housing affordability. The Kamra tal-Periti looks forward to meeting with the Hon Roderick Galdes in the very near future to discuss in greater detail its other proposals on advancing affordability in the rental market.

 

 

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PR 10/18 | Feedback on White Paper – Renting as a Housing Alternative

The Council of the Kamra tal-Periti congratulates the Hon. Parliamentary Secretary Roderick Galdes and his research team on the quality and thoroughness of the consultation process carried out regarding the White Paper titled: Renting as a Housing Alternative. This commendable effort should be set as a benchmark and a best-practice example for public consultation processes undertaken by other public entities in the future.

The White Paper is a well-researched and well-founded document. It properly identifies the problems with the rental market in Malta, and sets out a strategy to tackle these problems whilst keeping a balance between the interests of landlords and tenants. The impact of the current rental/housing crisis is clearly and frankly outlined. The White Paper argues that the causes for the rental crisis lie both in the “burgeoning economy” but also in changing household composition.

The White Paper quotes an increase in “family breakdowns” and “single individuals”, as one of the primary causes. However, the analysis of the quoted statistics shows that this trend, although significant, is of the same order of magnitude as the number of applicants under the IIP, and many orders of magnitude lower than the impact of the rapid expansion of the foreign labour market.

Nevertheless, the range of proposals outlined in the White Paper appear to have been carefully crafted to address current issues, without heavily intervening in market forces. This is commendable since heavy market intervention has proven unsuccessful in the past, in Malta and elsewhere. It remains to be seen whether the proposals will be sufficient to correct the current crisis.

The Council of the Kamra tal-Periti put forward various suggestions and observations on a number of matters in reaction to the White Paper, including on the following:

  • Rent subsidies, which the Kamra suggests should be converted to a housing allowance, similar to the British housing benefit, while however keeping in mind the risk that increasing liquidity in the rental market coupled with sustained population growth would result in further inflationary pressures;
  • The right of the landlord to withdraw from contracts in certain cases, which may give rise to abuse, since the objectives of the proposed regulation may be completely circumvented;
  • Pre-1995 leases, which are not addressed in the White Paper;
  • Affordable housing, which the White Paper terms as “the ultimate solution to the rental problem”, and the proposal for a “third sector” of housing provision, using innovative housing foundations or associations, or Public-Private Partnerships;
  • The introduction of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), which the Kamra believes to be long overdue;
  • Reliance on private supply, which the White Paper declares to have “failed”, and which in the Kamra’s opinion is a result of the complete absence of the role of urban planning in addressing the housing crisis, and the absence of measures to create affordable housing through the planning gain instrument;
  • Social housing, which is sometimes confused with “affordable housing”, is a solution which the Kamra sees as a temporary solution for those citizens who require it until they are able to move on to better prospects, and the suggestion that schemes for people to buy out their allocated “social” housing should be discontinued, since this effectively diminishes Government’s social housing stock, and, as has happened in the past, effectively allows people to profit off public resources;
  • The introduction of habitability and quality standards, which the Kamra agrees should be introduced without delay since the current crisis is not only due to high rental prices, but also the poor quality of the part of the supply;
  • The importance of placing greater emphasis on the curbing of discriminatory practices against minorities and socially disadvantaged members of society, including low-income earners;
  • The compulsory registration of contracts of lease, which the Kamra supports completely; and
  • The proposed establishment of a Rent Agency, and the Kamra’s opinion that rather than establishing a new agency, the Housing Authority should be thoroughly reformed such that the regulation of the housing sector becomes its primary function.

 

The Kamra tal-Periti considers the White Paper as a positive document which, on the basis of detailed research, proposes a number of regulatory mechanisms to address the current housing crisis. The proposed mechanisms now have to be fine-tuned and embraced by the political leadership.

 

 

 

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PR 08/18 | Launch of the Premju Emanuele Luigi Galizia 2019

Launch of the Premju Emanuele Luigi Galizia 2019

The Kamra tal-Periti will be launching the second edition of the Premju Emanuele Luigi Galizia on Friday 5th October 2018, to coincide with World Habitat Day and World Architecture Day which will be celebrated on the 1st October, and with European Engineers Day which is celebrated on the 5th October. The award scheme will be launched during the opening of an exhibition of theses and dissertations by the latest cohort of Master graduates from the Faculty for the Built Environment. A shortlist of the submitted work will be established by the jury, and the selected students invited to present their work to the jurors during the following week. The winners will be announced during the final Awards Ceremony of the Premju Emanuele Luigi Galizia to be held in June 2019.

The exhibition of the students’ work will be open to the public during Notte Bianca on the 6th October 2018 at the University of Malta, Valletta Campus.

 

World Habitat Day, World Architecture Day and Europan Engineers Day 2018

World Habitat Day was established in 1985 by the United Nations General Assembly, and was first celebrated in 1986. The United Nations designated the first Monday of October of every year as World Habitat Day to reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter. It also reminds us that we all have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of our cities and towns.

This year’s theme is Municipal Solid Waste Management, a global issue that affects everyone. The amount of waste produced by individuals is growing daily and often costs local authorities a large proportion of their budget. Poor solid waste collection and disposal can lead to serious health problems from uncontrolled dump sites and waste burning. It also leads to polluted air and water.

A change in public attitudes to minimise waste and stop littering, increased recycling and reusing, sufficient funding, solid waste planning including adequate landfill sites, can help cities to improve the current state of solid waste management and save money to become ‘Waste-Wise Cities’.

In 1986, the International Union of Architects (UIA) established World Architecture Day to coincide with World Habitat Day, with the aim to draw the attention of professionals and the public to issues concerning cities and housing. The theme chosen for 2018 is “Architecture … for a Better World”.

Every 5th October, the European engineering organisations ECEC (European Council of Engineers Chambers), FEANI (European Federation of National Engineering Associations), ECCE (European Council of Civil Engineers), together with ENAEE (European Network for Accreditation of Engineering Education) celebrate European Engineers Day to draw attention to the importance of securing the availability of excellent engineering solutions in Europe. The impact of engineering is visible in every aspect of human life, through increasingly more sophisticated inventions, techniques and equipment, and this Day is a good opportunity to remind the profession of the importance of achieving excellence in their respective fields.

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PR 07/18 | KTP welcomes White Paper on Building & Construction Authority

The Kamra tal-Periti welcomes the White Paper issued for consultation by the Ministry for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects for the setting up of a Building and Construction Authority. The consolidation of the various fragmented pieces of legislation, bodies and departments regulating the industry under one legislative and administrative umbrella is a positive development towards ensuring higher standards in the building and construction industry, to bring it in line with modern practice and standards, and to ensure the protection and sustainability of the significant investment made when properties are bought or rented out.

For many years now, the Kamra has struggled to impress upon the authorities the importance of separating planning development issues from those related to standards and regulations of buildings, not just at inception, but right through to end-of-life considerations. The Kamra has repeatedly called for the introduction of a full suite of building and construction regulations, backed up by a properly resourced Building Regulation Office. The principles outlined in the White Paper are aligned with the views of the Kamra tal-Periti, and, we believe, augur well for the industry. The Authority, if backed by all the necessary human, financial and technological resources, has the potential to make a significant contribution towards a better quality in our built environment. The Authority will, we believe, give additional impetus to the efforts of BICC, over the past years, to foster the right technical skills within the industry. We believe that only in this way can it be expected that every actor in the industry can take responsibility for what he or she does.

The Kamra tal-Periti will be shortly publishing a Policy Framework Document about this very subject, on which it has been working for the past months, to provide an analysis of the current situation, together with a framework for proposed reforms. It trusts that such a document will enable Government to attain the goals it has set in the White Paper, for the sake of the industry and its clients. The Kamra tal-Periti reiterates its full commitment and support to the Government in successfully implementing its vision, as expressed by the setting up of the Building & Construction Authority.