Chamber defends practice of architects turning speculators

‘We are drawing up a paper’ – Kamra tal-Periti claims

 

The Chamber of Architects is “drawing up a paper” on the potential conflicts of interest and breach of ethics by many of its warranted members who have become full-scale developers and property speculators over recent years.

According to the Chamber, there is nothing prohibiting such arguably unethical instances and the growing practice of its members acting as speculators is not in breach of any rules.

Questions raised by The Shift following our report that architect Justin Spiteri is both the co-developer and architect behind the latest controversial development – where a century-old chapel in Manikata is being engulfed by a new block of flats – were at first ignored by the Kamra tal-Periti.

However, following The Shift’s insistence on a reply, Chamber President Andre Pizzuto said that the council is still discussing the situation and “is drawing up a paper on the subject”.

He added that “This is common in deontological codes in most professions locally and abroad. The emphasis is on avoiding conflicts between professional duty and personal interests.”

According to Pizzuto, “A conflict would arise when a professional could stand to gain personally from delivering a particular service in such a way that it undermines the client’s interests.

“It follows, therefore, that a perit delivering a professional service to himself cannot have a conflict of interest precisely because the interests are aligned.”

The Chamber’s code of ethics clearly states that, “An architect (member) must not hold, assume or consciously accept a position in which his interest is in conflict with his professional duty.”

The same code also stipulates that an architect, “is remunerated solely by his professional fees payable by his clients and/or by his salary…this is common in deontological codes in most professions locally and abroad. The emphasis is on avoiding conflicts between professional duty and personal interests.”

The Shift recently revealed that Perit Justin Spiteri was not only the architect of Manikata’s ‘Ville Chapelle’ but also a 50 per cent shareholder in the development – a clear conflict of interest – but the Chamber remained tight-lipped on the topic.

A number of veteran architects who spoke to The Shift expressed frustration over the situation. The issue, they said, has been a sore point for many years but the Chamber had never taken action to put its professionals in place.

“Until a few years ago it was unheard of that an architect designing a particular project was also involved in investing in the same project. That is seriously worrying as his interest might not lie in the project itself but in how much cash it will rake in,” a veteran architect told The Shift.

“However, like other professions, our profession is in a race to the bottom and the Kamra never really acted to stop the rot,” he said.

Another said that once an architect is also an investor in a development project his interest might be elsewhere, and not in a good design and the right practices.

“Today, even among architects, it’s a cowboy’s land and I’m afraid that it’s far too late to stop the rot,” he said.

Following the eruption of controversy over the Manikata project, The Shift discovered that Spiteri, who resides in Balzan, is a massive speculator involved in property development businesses with Keith Grima from Zebbug, the co-owner of a Turkish kebab food chain, Posh and Ventur auto dealer of Mosta.

The pair own Juke Developments and Juke Finishes, companies that specialise in demolishing old houses and turning them into blocks of flats.

According to their own website and social media, the Spiteri-Grima duo are currently marketing blocks of flats in many parts of the island, including Naxxar, Mosta, San Gwann, St Paul’s Bay, Zabbar, Gozo and many other locations, apart from the infamous Ville Chapelle.

Research conducted by The Shift shows that dozens of warranted architects, members of the Chamber, are somehow involved directly in property development and speculation, and are shareholders in many property development businesses.

The long and growing list includes some architects who have made names for themselves by developing large projects, some of national importance.

A well-known architect who did not wish to be quoted told The Shift that he estimated that some 50 per cent of warranted architects are now involved in property speculation either directly as shareholders or indirectly through other individuals representing their investment.

                           
                               
guest

10 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
makjavel
makjavel
20 days ago

They all end up in the speculation part especially if these are paid in kind for their services , who then have to sell their bartered property . This is as old as Lorry Sant and cabinet of the time who bartered their favours for a piece of the cake. In those times it was Import Licences , Building Permits , Contraband Colour TV’s , Cigarettes , Alcohol ,,,,,,,and who knows what else. The PL changed its Party Slogan from “Ahleb Gus” to ” Make Hay While the Sun Shines” .
But then having a Musumeci who shuttles between an Architect to a Lawyer of sorts who changes the Architects and Building Regulations to suit his pockets , this is what happens. The reasoning from his peers is , If he can do iwhat he is doing , why not us. Now the Chamber must catch a loose tiger who brings in the gold for them.

Last edited 20 days ago by makjavel
Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
20 days ago

Fejn, qatt, kappell mejjel lil iehor?

Stefan Micallef
Stefan Micallef
20 days ago

Under the 2017 UK (ARB) Architects Code Standard 5 states “Considering the wider impact of your work where appropriate you should advise your client how best to conserve and enhance the quality of the environment and its natural resources” – 1) it is obvious that this proposed project next to the Chapel is far from a way to conserve its heritage but 2) it becomes obvious that giving advice to oneself when you are part developer/part architect constitutes a conflict of interest

Francis Said
Francis Said
20 days ago

What a load of bollocks by the chamber of architects.
I do not see a huge problem when an architect is also a developer.
The main problem is the quality of architecture that is being built. The total lack of environmental concerns. The total lack of health and safety on the construction sites. The total lack of consideration of our National Heritage.
We are not building residences, architects are designing a roof over one’s head. Every single inch or better every single side window that architects use to get a permit for themselves or their clients.
This is the shame that the Chamber should discuss.
Finally are we building Class A energy efficient buildings?
Are we building adequate soundproofing, where when one’s neighbour flushes his/her toilet one can clearly hear the noise?
Are the architects ensuring that the workers on site are fully trained and follow to the letter solid building practises?
Or is it making hay whilst the sun shines?

Last edited 20 days ago by Francis Said
Gemma
Gemma
20 days ago

The damage is done. It’s not about whether d architect is a developer, it’s why d authorities PA, SCH, ERA are approving such a monstrosity

Out of Curiosity
Out of Curiosity
20 days ago

The Periti of today are the new legal destroyers of our country with a particular specialisation in uglification. The University of Malta should be really ashamed of the unique kind of destroyers it is producing, so much so that the Maltese have become literally conscious of this fact and ashamed of their supposed highest educational institution in Malta. WHAT A SHAME!

KD Far
KD Far
20 days ago

Argument bazwi.

D.V
D.V
19 days ago

The Chamber of Architects is “drawing up a paper” on the potential conflicts of interest and breach of ethics by many of its warranted members who have become full-scale developers and property speculators over recent years.

drawing up a paper / potential conflict of interest. Lol just buying time so that the mafiosi can remove their names from the projects.

Francis Said
Francis Said
19 days ago

Does ethics and professional standards not included in our tertiary education?
Or the phrase “Make Hay Whilst The Sun Shines” is the new motto.

J. Kerr
J. Kerr
19 days ago

What an island! It seems that everyone is on the fiddle. Today it’s the A&CE’s!
I have long suspected that they must be up to their necks in it. The on-going building regularisation exercise certainly shows up the profession in a bad light. The galling bit is that you have to engage an architect,at considerable cost, to right the wrongs that a previous architect condoned! What an island!

Last edited 19 days ago by J. Kerr

Related Stories

Council of Europe keeps the pressure up on Safi Detention Centre conditions
The Council of Europe is continuing to apply pressure
Justice minister U-turns on promised reform of court experts ‘racket’
Justice Minister Jonathan Attard has made a spectacular U-turn

Our Awards and Media Partners

Award logo Award logo Award logo