The Malta Independent 16 July 2020, Thursday

Watch: Wouldn't this look better? Monti hawkers prefer winning design

Gabriel Schembri Tuesday, 21 June 2016, 16:29 Last update: about 5 years ago

Following the story on the ‘bus monti stall’ design which appeared on The Malta Independent this morning, this newsroom has acquired the design which was originally chosen as the best by an adjudicating panel headed by architect Chris Mintoff.

But winning the competition is apparently not enough as the government is toying with the idea of having stalls in the form of a mechanised, four-wheeled container in the shape of half a bus, instead of stalls as designed in the winning entry. The ‘bus’ concept has not met with the approval of most of the people commenting beneath The Malta Independent story online and in other parts of the social media.

The call for applications for monti stall designs was issued on 9 February 2015. The design by architects Ray Said and Rupert Pace was the winner. They were awarded €5,000. But that’s as far as the story got, because so far the government has not given the green light for the project to go ahead, in spite of the fact that monti hawkers have spoken in favour of the Said-Pace design.

“We were notified that ours was the winning design by Chris Mintoff, the head of the Chamber of Architects. He just told me that we can collect the cheque during the Chamber’s AGM meeting held in February, but the government never spoke to us directly,” Mr Pace said.

Following the Annual General Meeting, the architects asked to meet Jonathan Attard, a consultant for Economy Minister Chris Cardona. “We wanted to clarify some issues, such as if we can publish the design or not. But our questions were never clearly answered. They kept speaking about the relocation, but avoided any conversation about the design.”

When Mr Pace and Mr Said saw the design which appeared on today’s front page story and later online, they were shocked to find a design which is completely different from the concept they had proposed. “No one formally informed us that our design would not be used,” Mr Pace told The Malta Independent.

The expression of interest stipulates that the government has every right to ditch the winning design.

The design by Said and Pace, a copy of which was acquired by this newspaper, shows a semi-permanent structure, free standing and collapsible.

“The ministry was always very mysterious and we were always very cautious. But when we saw this design this morning, we were slightly surprised to say the least.”

The architects decided to publish their winning design because they did not want the public to think that the ‘bus’ design proposed by the government is their work. “Our design is completely different,” they insisted.

With a copy of the ‘bus’ design in hand, this newspaper this morning went to meet monti hawkers in Merchants Street to hear what they have to say about this proposed 'bus' design (below). From what they said, it is very clear that monti hawkers were quite happy with the design chosen by the adjudicating board, and not the ‘bus’ design that was published today. “We were happy with the original design. This one proposed by the government looks mediocre and will make Ordinance Street look like an old bus terminus.” Representatives who spoke with this newspaper agree that a “fixed structure like the one proposed by Said and Pace is better.” 

A press release issued by the Ministry for the Economy said that the final decision on the Monti stalls design is ‘still not taken’ and that ‘consultations are still going on’.

‘The Ministry for the Economy, Investment and Small Business denies claims that the winning entry for the Monti-stall design has been scrapped and a new one has already been chosen.’ However, the article which appeared on The Malta Independent never said that the final decision was taken.


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