Editorial: Malta’s next must-have, illuminated towers

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The Burj Khalifa, Dubai, certainly made headway in inspiring projects within the Maltese islands. Our countries next must-haves include a series of towers sprawled here there and everywhere, as the news of yet another tower application broke yesterday. PX Lettings tower promises to be a ‘sensitive answer to the contemporary challenges of Paceville’s development.’

Plans for a 33-storey, multi-use tower at the entrance to Paceville will rival Joseph Portelli’s Mercury House tower. The project, proposed by Paul Xuereb’s PX Lettings, is intended on an area previously occupied by low-density villas on the road leading to the Eden Cinemas, occupying a third of the 3,400sq.m site. The tower will include serviced apartments on its upper floors, a business centre in the lower part of the building, and ancillary retail and restaurant spaces to complement the public plaza. Parking facilities will also be provided to cater for the development.

Indeed, this news will rile many locals with its environmental impact, but the question remains, is there such a need for a 33-storey illuminated tower? Who will be occupying these buildings? Is Silicon Valley relocating, and we will all be working at Google Malta? Do we intend to attract global players who will bring us many opportunities and prosperity? Or will they sit empty as investors snap up stock to sell in future years, or simply they are not sold at all?

Another factor to consider is the current digitalisation the world of work is undergoing due to the pandemic. Global CEOs inform us to expect a new normal, with emerging technology that has reduced the demand for the traditional sprawling open office 9-5 workplace. Many local companies have still not seen their workforce return on foot back into their offices in a year. Visionaries will have you believe bricks and mortar offices are a thing of the past, and instead, smart hubs will crop up where lifestyle comes first, and we work flexibly in the same place. How are these proposed towers linking up with our future?

Let’s not forget not too long ago; we were itching to move out of congested areas and relocate our businesses to the now, somewhat “not so” Smart City. Companies came, they saw, they left.  The place didn’t live up to the hype, hope and expectation, and now we are seeing parts of it being repurposed into luxury accommodation. The Smart City master plan was approved in 2009, but the developers recently chose to transfer the floor space from different areas to allow the residential Shoreline project to go ahead. So, if we are to insist on these towers, please let’s make them meaningful.

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