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Designing Our Way Out Of A Climate Crisis: London-Based Architect Shares Vision For Eco-Driven Malta

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Malta needs to rethink the way it goes about urban design and planning and to change the sector from one that is responsible for a deterioration in citizens’ quality of life to a driver of efforts to reduce the impacts of climate change, according to London-based architect Jonathan Mizzi. 

From reports about freak weather events to the UN declaring a red alert for the planet, we’ve had our fair share of reminders about just how serious the situation is. But while there is consensus about the need to act, it isn’t always clear just how countries should be going about doing so.

Mizzi is the director and founder of the multidisciplinary design practice Mizzi Studios and shared his vision for “designing Malta out of climate crisis” in a recent TEDx event at the University of Malta. 

With the world now in the “most consequential decade of humanity”, Mizzi stressed that actions taken now would ultimately determine the “future of our species”.

From a local perspective, Mizzi lamented the fact that over-development appeared to have taken precedence over the country’s natural heritage and its Mediterranean character.

“Malta can become a leader and source of inspiration in tackling climate change. It can change into an island that young people want to live in, rather than one they want to leave,” he said.

Positive change through architecture

The architect pointed to several areas which Malta could easily tackle in order to start changing its development culture.

One proposal is for the installation of a network of elevated cyclist canopy lines which would help people make the shift away from using cars.

The lanes would come in the form of “an infrastructural bolt-on solution that would offer cyclists and e-scooters a safe and swift passageway on arterial roads”.

“The platform is designed with inbuilt solar technology to harvest clean energy, all whilst creating an environment that nurtures biodiversity,” he explained, adding that the proposal would also likely lead to a reduction in traffic-related fatalities and injuries.

“What we’re doing here is sheltering commuters from the elements whilst harnessing their power; the power of the sun and giving clean energy back to the grid.”

The structure would also be designed in a way that allows it to capture water which would, in turn, be used to grow a “clean green line to clean our air and provide a home to our pollinators”.

Rapid Bus Transport

Mizzi was the brains behind a proposal for Malta’s bus fleet to be replaced with a custom-designed electric fleet, with the architect stressing the need for Malta to have a Rapid Bus Transport System.

This, he said, would help get Malta out of the “environmental crisis” it finds itself, by providing commuters with a viable alternative to their car.

In order to be successful, the system would require there to be an “exclusive right-of-way path” dedicated solely to busses along the country’s arterial roads.

“There are approximately 420,000 cars on  Malta’s roads at present. This means there are five million square metres of vehicles on the island, all of which are parked for 96% of their lifespan.”

Reclaiming Malta’s village streets

In addition to the proposals for Malta’s arterial roads, the architect also put forward proposals for adapting Malta’s village streets to an “inevitably altered climate future”.

He called for there to be a better balance between parts of the street that are dedicated to cars and those dedicated to other forms of transport.

The proposal also envisages streets adorned with big trees, which are able to cool the ground below. This would lead to a drop in the average temperature from 37°C to 27°C on a typical hot summer day. 

“This bold move would not only allow for safe pedestrian and cyclist travel, but it would also result in benefits to people’s overall mental and physical wellbeing,” he said.

With fewer cars on Malta’s roads, Mizzi said it would then be possible to start reclaiming spaces currently allocated to parked cars.

Such spaces could be turned into green parks instead, which would breathe life into the country’s communities.

What do you make of this proposal? 

READ NEXT: WATCH: Two People Saved From Car Hanging Over Maltese Construction Site After Crash

Yannick joined Lovin Malta in March 2021 having started out in journalism in 2016. He is passionate about politics and the way our society is governed, and anything to do with numbers and graphs. He likes dogs more than he does people.

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