Whiterocks
Feature

Turn White Rocks Into An Art Park Instead Of Another Commercial Development

Imagine we took a chance on art and open space...crazy right?

Photography by Joanna Demarco

It has recently emerged that land costs for the White Rocks complex area are sizeable, and that the chosen bidder for its development would be faced with a bill of about €60-80 million for it. But we’re here to suggest that it’s worth so much more than that. Not to developers, but to Malta’s cultural posterity. If we destroy the White Rocks complex, we destroy Malta’s last chance at letting culture win over commercial gain.

Mg 9776

We are living in this strange period where Malta’s built environment is completely at odds with the zeitgeist of our cultural community. We have a new generation of people who are filled with ideas, confidence, eagerness and pride in their country. Musicians, artists, illustrators, writers, entrepreneurs – all creating new ways which speak about who and what Malta is now, and not just harping on about our former glories. 

But their efforts can’t compete with the overhaul of commercial development that is happening all over the islands, very often in the place of parts of Malta which are believed to contribute greatly towards the country’s cultural identity.

Img 8694

We are living in this strange period where Malta’s built environment is completely at odds with the zeitgeist of our cultural community

But not this time. We’re here to call on that same community to join us in our protest against the development of the White Rocks complex. Even if we do need more apartments, we need a real hub for our creativity community more

Mg 9831

Our appeal to the government is not to sell this land to the private sector for it to be demolished and turned into flats. Instead, to safeguard this architectural gem, as they would any Baroque or Renaissance building, and gift it to Malta's creative community.

The White Rocks complex was built in 1964 as the last military barracks to be erected by the British establishment in Malta. The architects, Austin-Smith Salmon and Lord, designed a series of three storey flats and single and double story houses as staggering blocks positioned at different planes on the reclining terrain. The visual haphazard positioning of the blocks contrasts with the uniformity of their facades which are made up of an alternating series of solid stone planes and recessed vertical openings. The play of continuous rhythm against the dislodging affect of the grouping is what makes the design of the whole complex so dynamic. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to look at White Rocks from the sea, you’d understand the beauty that the paired back design brings to that specific site.

Whiterocks2

Today its taken on a completely new identity. It’s become a blank canvas for talented visual artists who are experiencing a severe drought in terms of where they can make their art. White Rocks can today be classified as a living museum of graffiti art that deserves to be celebrated, curated and protected. 

Graffiti art like the works at White Rocks is produced world-wide. It’s accepted into the fabric of cities and towns. There are areas in Europe where urban graffiti art has become an important cultural attraction – it's narrative by nature and it draws people in, no matter who they are. 

It’s time we realised that these works form part of our country’s identity. They are not throw-away. They are massive, important compositions that deserve to be protected.

Mg 9871

It’s time we realised that these works form part of our country’s identity. They are not throw-away. They are massive, important compositions that deserve to be protected.

Mg 9861

What’s more we urge the government to turn the site into a safe and hospitable open space for the public, particularly the creative public to use as an open canvas of expression. We believe the site has potential to become one of Europe's most beautiful art parks: a new and alive piece of Maltese heritage. We could turn White Rocks into the land of imagination and reflection – where young and old can enjoy fresh air, sea views, green spaces and living pieces of modern artistic expression.

Img 8700

Our dense, over-trafficked, over-built country is crying out for an area which is not trying to do anything complicated. We need a respite, a place where ideas can flourish and conversations can be had devoid of sight and noise pollution. A place where unconventional art is given a seal of approval, where modern architecture is appreciated, and where creativity wins out. 

Destroying White Rocks would not just be eliminating part of our heritage. It would be taking away a future we really, really need.

Whiterocks3

If you are against the commercial development of the White Rocks complex share this post and any other related content using #SaveWhiteRocks – let's stop this shit from happening.

READ NEXT: Do Maltese People Care About Art?

Written By

Ann Dingli

Ann Dingli writes mostly about art and design. She enjoys friendly debates and has accepted that she's a small person.

Comments