Putting out of practice

February, 14, 2019

Over the past two years, the Planning Authority has provided residents living in Urban Conservation Areas, also known as village cores, with the opportunity to carry out restoration and conservation works through the Irrestawra Darek grant scheme. The scheme is intended to assist in the regeneration of Malta’s village core areas whilst promoting investment in the restoration, conservation and maintenance of Malta’s built heritage.

The ongoing information campaign is directly associated with this successful and popular scheme in that it approaches the safeguarding of our village cores from a different angle – awareness. The Authority believes that making money available for conservation and restoration works is not the only solution. There are a number of practices which we commonly find in our village and town cores which reduce the authenticity and heritage value of these places. We show a lack of respect towards our heritage when we apply such practices:

 

  1. 1.                   Bright colours on the façade   

Colours are beautiful, but not all are appropriate for the facade of a house.  The use of bright coloured paint on the facade of our houses can aesthetically spoil the uniformity and look not only of the dwelling but of the streetscape too.

If you consider changing the colour on the facade of your house use colours that are traditional, natural earth or pastel tones and respect the character of our towns and villages, particularly in the immediate context.

 

  1. 2.                   Placing of an outdoor A/C unit


Air conditioners are no longer a commodity but have become a necessity within our houses. Before installing an A/C, it is first advisable to plan where the outdoor unit is to be placed. Given some thought, there are different solutions that one can explore to place the unit in such a way that  it is not visible from the street and does not mar the aesthetics of the facade.          

 

  1. 3.                   Non-traditional materials

Today when we come to install a new front door, apertures or a balcony we find a wide range of available materials. If you live in a traditional village or town centre, we encourage you to consider using traditional materials such as wood. Although the initial investment might be more expensive than other alternative materials, with regular maintenance, they last for many more years.

    

 

  1. 4.                   Tiles on the façade

 

Tiles are nice and can add to the design within the different rooms of a house. But tiles laid on the facade of a house make it look more like bathroom than anything else. Tiles spoil the uniformity and appearance not only of the house but of the street too. Furthermore, they damage the facade irreversible and can cause other problems such as increased humidity internally. If you intend upgrading the facade of your house leave the natural beauty of our traditional stone exposed and use appropriate methods. 

 

  1. 5.                   Makeshift canopies

For a good portion of the year, our Island is soaked in the sun. For some, it is a nuisance and so they look for alternative ways on how to create shade around the open spaces of their house. When we try creating makeshift canopies in our driveways, front gardens and on our rooftops we are showing a lack of respect for our built heritage. These type of canopies, generally made out of screening material used at construction sites, aesthetically ruins the appearance not only of the traditional house but of the street too.      

 

  1. 6.                   Cleaning the facade of your property

 

The facade of most houses in the core parts of our villages and towns is the traditional Maltese stone. To make the property’s facade look clean and new again yet retain the rustic look, it is common practice for a property owner to resort to the ‘unhealthy’ techniques of stone hacking, sandblasting or power washing.  These techniques leave irreparable damage to the stone. Once the patina (a protective layer which grows as a skin) is removed, it will not form again, and the stone will continue to deteriorate.

 

Before cleaning the facade of your house or taking any action, get an expert’s advice . Although the recommended treatment might be more expensive and more time-consuming, it will restore the property to its former glory without ruining it and will be cheaper in the long run.

 

  1. 7.                   PV panels

 The use of PV panels to generate clean solar energy is strongly encouraged. Before installing any PV panels on the rooftop of your house make sure they fit within an area which is not visible from street level and adequately screened off.  It would be ironic though that while generating ‘clean’ energy with unsightly PV panels we ‘pollute’ the appearance of our traditional houses and streetscapes.  

We encourage you to seek professional advise before carrying out any works on your old property. Here at the Planning Authority, we are more than willing to assist you.