21 January 2004

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Over 90 entities register for Mnajdra, Hagar Qim Heritage Park

The Ministry for Youth and the Arts has received over 90 registrations from various architects, teams and agencies interested in taking part in the International Competition for the design of the Mnajdra and Hagar Qim Heritage Park, after being launched on November 22, the Ministry said yesterday.
The larger part of these registrations came mainly from Europe but there were others from Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and the Americas. These architects or teams of specialists, in the next week will be receiving a package containing the Brief including all the necessary information regarding the site.
There were also a series of questions and queries since the launch regarding the competition parameters, the site in question and details on Brief content. Around 50 queries and questions were addressed to the Technical and Professional advisor responsible for the competition procedures. The website of the Ministry for Youth and the Arts, www.mya.gov.mt has been updated to respond to the various queries.
The aim behind the International Competition is to attract the utmost and best ideas from both local and international firms whilst fuelling interest in the oldest free-standing monuments in the world and creating a global awareness about the importance of their conservation.
The objectives and scope of the Mnajdra and Hagar Qim Heritage Park make it a prime candidate to receive structural funding from the European Union. The temples have a high cultural value and the project will enhance the country’s efforts in presenting itself as an ideal destination for cultural tourism.
The Ministry for Youth and the Arts has secured the support and assistance of the Union International des Architectes in compiling the brief for the international competition according to the regulations set by the UIA itself and follows the provisions of the international recommendations for competitions in architecture and urban planning adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO on 27 November 1978.
The brief being sent to the registered competitors contains a section on Site Issues - that is the rationale behind the project, site issues, climate, site context, a statement of significance, World Heritage Values, description of site, assets and context and a full evaluation of the site both from an ecological, archaeological and historical level. This section also refers to planning policies and protection levels in the area.
Another section refers to Competition Regulations. This contains mostly information regarding the process of the competition and apart from quoting the dynamics of jury it refers to the type of assessment, eligibility, parameters for disqualification and details of documents to be submitted.
In the section on Programme-Related Issues the design philosophy is highlighted and reference is made to: design principles, project specifics and area requirements.
The section on plans included in the Brief refers to alternative sites for the visitors’ centre and the site for the visitor orientation point, contour plan of the area, protected areas, general plan of the site and access and a general map of the Maltese islands with orientation of the site. In the addendum there is a full version of necessary planning policies and local legislation.
The next stage of the competition will see the appointment of the Technical Committee, which will co-ordinate the competition and must guarantee that the competition runs smoothly and correctly.
The committee will see to all the aspects of the competition and its main responsibility will be to study the subject of the competition in-depth and to run it impeccably whilst complying with the rules laid down in this document. It will also organise the meeting between the competitors and the representatives of the promoter. A co-ordinator will than be appointed to liase with and report to the Jury.
The deadline for the submission of the design projects is set for 26 March and the announcement of the winning project follows the jury meeting, which will be held in April. An exhibition of the design projects will follow.
Work on the project itself will be phased. The first of these phases will see the development of a Visitors’ Centre and will start soon after the competition stage is concluded and the Technical Committee starts its work on the tendering process.
The later phases of the project will involve the development of a transport system within the area of the Archaeological Park and the construction of protective structures over the two temples.

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Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
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