A video superimposing planned American University of Malta buildings around some of Europe's most iconic landmarks is highlighting Cottonera residents' concerns about expansion plans in the area.
The 41-second clip shows the iconic Sacre-Coeur Basilica in Paris as it stands now, before a scale model of a planned AUM building is digitally dropped beside it.
The same happens to the parliament in Rome and the Marseille cathedral, as the words “WOULD YOU APPROVE THIS?” appears in text.
The answer “NO, RIGHT!” comes up, before the scale models are dropped into the actual locations they might end up in, along the Cottonera waterfront and in one of Senglea's only open spaces.
The video is produced by activist group “Action: Give us Back our Land” [Azzjoni: Tuna Artna Lura], which is fighting AUM expansion plans.
AUM has plans to develop a large dormitory in an open area of Senglea, extend its existing waterfront campus building and restore and enlarge the dilapidated Knights' Building next door to that.
The university says it needs the additional room as it looks to expand in the future. Activists say the plans would completely ruin the Cottonera waterfront skyline and obscure Senglea's iconic fortifications from view.
In September, the Planning Authority postponed a decision on the proposals. A final decision is expected on November 21.
In their video, the activst group accuses AUM of "taking up 25% of the open space in the neighbourhood."
Spokesperson Rebecca Cremona said the idea was "to show that people in other countries don’t accept their heritage being treated like this and overdevelopment wouldn’t happen in places like France and Italy. It’s also not just a Cottonera problem, it’s a national problem. We have world class heritage and we need to protect it.”
This is not the first time that the group has superimposed buildings on images of historical landmarks to make their point. In the past it covered half of Petra’s Monastery with a digital drawing of a new building – directly targeting Jordan, where the owners of AUM, Sadeen Group, are from.
Earlier this month The Jordan Times reported that Malta’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Carmelo Abela had visited the Sadeen International Group and praised its work in establishing AUM.
Group chairman Hani Salah said he and his board will continue to expand the third-level facility “into a global educational beacon through partnerships with major educational institutions and universities globally.”
The video released by “Action: Give us Back our Land” comes ahead of another protest the group is holding on Sunday at 11am at the Maċina car park close the AUM campus.