Monday, 19 October 2009

Students design nature park for Hondoq ir-Rummien

Students design nature park for Hondoq ir-Rummien
From TMIS of Sunday 18th October 2009.

Three students following the architecture and urban design course at the University of Malta have won the Julian Manduca Award for Sustainability with their idea for an architectural project at Hondoq ir-Rummien, Qala. Joseph Galea, Nicky Psaila Savona and Zack Xuereb Conti planned to turn the run down site into a nature park, incorporating the natural environment and social and heritage aspects. They believe that the quarry could be turned into a nature park after being properly cleared.

Other projects are currently waiting adjudication for the Tony Mifsud Award for Urban Conservation, for which students were given the challenge of tidying up and unifying shop fronts in Republic Street, Valletta.

Hondoq ir-Rummien was a very controversial subject, as a proposed project for the area was described as having a considerable negative impact on the environment. The Hondoq ir-Rummien site stretches from the disused quarry, located to the north, down to the derelict concrete wharf and encompasses the adjacent public sandy beach.

The award was made possible by Flimkien ghall-Ambjent Ahjar in collaboration with the Architecture and Urban Design Department and Qala Local Council. Moviment Harsien Hondoq, Nature Trust and the Ramblers Association also contributed to studies on the area, while the US embassy sponsored the award by donating books to the Architecture and Urban Design Department.

The students came up with a master plan to turn the quarry into a landscaped park and erect a hostel, a submerged kiosk and a heritage trail. A water garden, a splash pond and a water sports area would be included and the public area would be increased. Flagstones quarried from site, a treated steel structure enclosed in lightweight mesh and recycled material would be among the resources used.

The plan is to run the site by totally sustainable means, including solar energy and wind scoop ventilation. Natural spring water will be diverted to create a pond and drinking water fountains.The park is in a spiral form to be accessible to everyone and afford maximum views. It would be totally accessible to disabled people, including the visually impaired, and zero-emission transport and the use of bicycles will be encouraged.

A forestation project using carob, olive, pomegranate, prickly pear and fig trees, as well as caper bushes, is envisaged. The site has been planned around water, heritage and nature, while keeping in mind the needs of local residents as well as the social and economic benefits.

The intention of the project was for students to think beyond the theoretical aspect. However, it could well become a reality in the future. Ultimately it serves as an eye opener for developers but even parts of it can be carried out.

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