Architectural arrogance

Dear Sir,

The rate at which new buildings are erupting all over Gibraltar, in some of the most unlikely places, is astonishing.

Many refuse to recognize their context; that is to say they have been erected in positions that compromise the existing vernacular.

 The entire Mid-Town complex for example, is so close to the city walls that it leaves just a corridor to the skies and entirely undermines the prospect of the walls, negating their historic, touristic, or any other value.

Spaces are just as important to architecture as the solids lumps that fill them. The 19 story spaceship on legs planned for the Devil’s Tongue, will entirely dominate the area; which is not to say it will detract from what is essentially a forgotten corner in front of the broken mouth of the demolished Watergate, which should have been tackled decades ago. We seem to be approving temples to architectural arrogance on a titanic scale rather than a human one.

I remember back in 1988 or so, Joe Bossano saying “if the problem is land then let’s make more land” and he was right. Of course it’s expensive, which is why it has only been tackled piecemeal, but it’s a much better solution than building skywards on every available plot and destroying the very nature of Gibraltar. When we have finally constructed a Mediterranean Manhattan, our grand children will say “so what’s so special about Gibraltar? It’s just the same as everywhere else.”

A site as valuable - in a world context - as Gibraltar needs careful and sensitive management not a wholesale rush to eat up the land before the last piece is gone. Although I am pointing the finger at our architects, in reality it is the developers’ gluttony that needs abating; and it’s our planners duty to manage that task.

Paul Hodkinson