New Gozo buildings must have stone façades, PA says in new circular issued on Wednesday. Photo: PA

New Gozo buildings must have stone facades, PA says in new circular

The Planning Authority (PA) has issued a circular for architects announcing a new requirement for all new buildings in Gozo to have limestone facades, it said in a statement on Wednesday.

It said that this was part of its effort to preserve, enhance and promote the unique spatial characteristics of Gozo, that make it distinct from mainland Malta.

Materials and colour are two types of architectural design elements which influence the quality of design and so play an important role in preserving and enhancing Gozo’s distinctiveness.

The Planning Authority said that development applications in all of Gozo’s urban areas shall require the use of unpainted and unrendered lower globigerina limestone (franka softstone) on the street façade. The franka stone may be used as a structural element or as cladding material.

For ridge-edge developments within the development boundaries, the Planning Authority shall require the use of unpainted and unrendered franka stone on all façades.

However, in the case of development applications located outside Urban Conservation Areas and Design Priority Areas, particularly in locations subject to erosive/corrosive climatic conditions such as seafronts, the authority said it may consider alternative natural materials with similar visual and sensory properties to franka stone, such as coralline limestone (hardstone), or travertine.

Public buildings and non-residential developments, medium-to large-scale developments and industrial developments in Gozo’s urban areas will also have to adhere to the same provisions.

The materials and colours used in apertures and balconies on the street façade or any façade on a ridge edge development must fully integrate with the franka stone. Blank party walls shall be rendered and painted in stone colour.

To ensure the implementation of this approach the Planning Authority will include the type and colour of the building materials, apertures and balconies as a condition within the development permission.

“The authority will move forward with this approach as it is evident that weathered franka stone is an important constant in the Gozitan architectural grammar and contributes positively even to long-distance views. In a skyline and scheme edge treatment context, this material, which is rich in colour and texture, helps to mellow the transition from the urban to the rural which occurs at the development zone boundary,” it said.

The PA’s plans have already drawn positive reactions from Gozitan tourism, business and civil society stakeholders.

The Gozo Tourism Association last Monday said news of the planned policy shift was “a breath of fresh air”, while the Gozo Business Chamber said it was happy to see Gozo being treated as a distinct region with its own needs, rather than as part of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ national strategy.

Source: Times of Malta

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