Memory, linking man to his world, is a fundamental characteristic of humanity, not only with respect to remembrance, or perception of remembrance, but with respect to that network of elusive clues through which emotions evolve. This “memory” is not simply a recollection of facts, but an unknown personal geography, a manifestation of self; man’s cultural baggage.
Our Site has no memory, a waste deposit, a past creating an unnatural landscape. But Nature reacts, the roots of a new organism commence; a new landscape emerges, man and nature can coexist.
Maghtab Park is a park for the twenty-first century, part of a system where man and nature interact, forming a new landscape; where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Maghtab Park will not just become a rehabilitated place offering refuge, leisure, and discovery. Maghtab Park is a process of rehabilitation of a wide territory, a strategic part of the island geography.
Maghtab Park is not merely a collection of thematic gardens, of pleasant spaces that emerge from the Visitor Centre fulcrum and string along pathways moulded from the complex morphology of the hill. Maghtab Park symbolises a pace- maker, a pulsing heart capable of activating relationships between territories, and cultures of the Mediterranean populace.
Conceptually, the project envisions a process of gradual rehabilitation of the surrounds. The construction of the Park will trigger dynamic transformations, expanding into neighbouring areas, carrying improvements; high quality agriculture, ecological networks, sustainable tourism - all cultural and economic activities vital to the well-being of the population.
The landscape and environment are of paramount concern, in and around the site. Two distinct zones are identified for different developments:
The Heart, the waste disposal site itself: subdivided into existing and future use; a mechanism of regeneration and environmental transformation.
The Lungs, the immediate surrounds: re-activating and enhancing links to the countryside, forging and propagating connections to the rest of the island, and activating sustainable uses.
One proposal, to realign the Coast Road, would transform a large area, allowing the Park to extend into the sea, in a continuum of recovered landscapes. The proposed route would revalue a significant part of the coast, north and east of Maghtab, while ensuring efficient traffic links between Valletta and the north, with a long-term reclamation of a large natural area to cherish. Man will discover and enjoy the typical, beautiful countryside environment, within which important sites of archaeological and conservation interest (Natura 2000)
Tourism in this coastal region will be filtered, with no vehicular access other than at specified parking areas, allowing one to venture forth through the rocky steppe, rediscovering the landscape of the island.
Planting on Maghtab is conditioned by the rigid discipline imposed by the slopes. The proposal recovers existing pathways, narrowing them to leisurely walks, jogging routes, paths of discovery of vegetation, and specific viewpoints of surrounds. Features create specific attractions: the panoramic tower, the astronomical observatory.
The Ghallis proposal, where modern waste management techniques allow more amenable surface morphologies, envisages specific activities, thematic gardens, and didactic zones, permitting a clear personality for this part of Maghtab Park, including a centre for conservation of local varieties of fruit trees, with agronometrically representative native and naturalised species.
Sustainable energy underpins this project. All infrastructure, the Didactic Centres, and necessary equipment will be energised by autonomous energy sources: integrated solar-wind power systems, photovoltaic panels, and three wind towers placed to the north-west of Maghtab, designed by artists to unite the wooded landscape, creating a new coastal skyline.
The Dynamics of the Project
The Project will be phased, with each part being self-sustainable, and, as per all living systems, developing relationships internally and externally. The park will function on the basis of the completed phases, as dictated by site characteristics and by the programme of closure of different zones, as per the competition documentation.
The nucleus of Maghtab Park will be the Visitor Centre, located to the south of the Park, and which will constitute the sole public access. Other accesses will be reserved for management and maintenance.
The first interventions will be on Ta’ Zwejra, and parts of Maghtab.
Ta’ Zwejra can be utilised relatively quickly. It will contain services and the infrastructure to attract visitors – a Didactic and Services Centre, an open-air Theatre, and a multi-event piazza. This will be the only part of the Park that will be fenced, with access through “Maghtab Gate”.
The great limestone pjazza, at the entrance, will be wrapped in a corten-steel network, like a tangle of roots. Events and meetings can be organised here, in contact with nature and Maghtab’s history. This will be the nexus of all the “socialising” spaces: restaurants, bars, and shops, and information points on the Park, explaining the themes of knowledge and the experiences the Project wishes to transmit.
Conceived as an illuminated cavern in the hill, the building is designed to penetrate into the belly of the rehabilitated dump, with didactic spaces organised as areas with multi-medial and interactive interfaces intended to educate the visitor.
Continuity will also be created between man and land; therefore there will be areas which explain the cycles of re-use, the significance of utilizing primary material resources, and the stratigraphic capability of dumps to represent the evolution of local communities, as the rings of a tree trunk represent the cycles of life.
Themed on evolution and transformation, the transformation of environment has multiple origins, both natural and man-made. It is necessary to illustrate that climate changes also transform. The secondary area of the Visitors Centre will be used for observing and experiencing atmospheric phenomena, the transformation, power and strength of the weather.
Maghtab will be completed in a subsequent phase, with the eventual closure of Ghallis North and South allowing the holistic completion of Maghtab Park.
The Project will also incorporate a Nursery, producing plants for afforestation of the landfill. Drip irrigation will be incorporated into the design of the Park to utilise the minimum amount of water.
The creation of new landscapes depends on dynamic and flexible processes of evolution, tied to the concept of time, and therefore time controls the development of the Site. It will be necessary to develop a strategy capable of continuous adaptation of the methods of reconstructing the green cover of the Park.