Jonathan Mizzi, the Maltese-British architect with a passion for futurism, science and love for nature, unveiled this and other concepts aimed at “designing humanity out of a climate crisis” during a TEDx UniversityofMalta event that was held on Friday 5 November 2021.
Pointing out that he actually comes from a family that “imports a lot of cars to Malta”, Mizzi said that the reduction of cars is a “seriously exciting thing” and “the fact that I’m here, I think says enough”.
The 420,000 cars around Malta and Gozo translate to 5 million square metres of vehicles that are parked for 96% of their lifetime, he said.
The government’s proposal for an underground metro will reportedly take at least 20 years to complete and will inevitably require extensive excavation and road works. In a clear reference to this, Mizzi said his proposals are examples of how we can phase things in gradually, with minimal impact and disruption to our lives.
He spoke about how Malta can take the lead in the global fight against climate change. On the need to reduce the number of cars from our roads, he said that getting people to use buses requires us to first build trust.
Mizzi proposes ‘simple way’ to create trustworthy, reliable bus system
“We’re not just going to get up one day and make that shift, because we don’t rely on the transport system. How can we create that trust and reliability? There is, really, a genuinely simple way.
“If we’re bold enough to give a dedicated bus lane across all of our primary arterial roads, then what you will have is your metro right there. This is a rapid bus transport system which is identical to a metro. What is a metro? It is a carriage that carries passengers directly in an undisturbed line.”
Going on to talk about his idea to create safe passageways for cyclists too, proposing to give them “centre stage by reclaiming our concrete centre strips and giving them the skies”. He spoke about the concept of building an off-site, safe structure that would be inspired by nature – essentially an elevated tree canopy line.
“What we’re doing here is harnessing the power of the sun and giving clean energy back to the grid. We’re harnessing water and growing a clean, green line to clean our air and provide a home for our pollinators – our bees, our insects and our lizards.”
Mizzi added that this sits within his proposal for a rapid bus transport system and a shared car lane that would be autonomous in 20 years time, further reducing the number of cars.
On green spaces and trees that can help us adapt to extreme heat, Mizzi described his idea to take ‘car’ out of car park as our reliance on cars goes down, turning spaces like the Floriana car park into a park, while still retaining some space for cars.
Malta’s first hybrid charging station
Mizzi went on to talk about electrification, unveiling concepts of Malta’s first hybrid charging station. The idea is to have the first super fast chargers on the island with the aim of phasing out fossil fuel power.
“And the best thing is that we’re going to be building them out of natural fibre composites, which is linen just like the shirt I’m wearing. You’ll be able to take these station’s canopies, throw them in the sea and they’ll biodegrade. I’m really excited about the future of electrification, especially when they eventually couple up with renewable energy – that’s when they will truly be clean”.
Saying that life in Malta could look pretty bleak in the next few decades unless we do something drastic to counter the effects of climate change, Mizzi asked: “Why should we be forced to leave our own country, our own home? And this isn’t just about survival, it’s about the manner in which we can survive. We must rewild our urban environment”.