The Bartlett School of Planning


Antoine Zammit

Research subject

Thesis title: Addressing urban design quality in the Maltese built environment through its correlation with the planning system

Primary supervisor: Professor Matthew Carmona
Secondary supervisor: Dr Elisabete Cidre
Sponsor: Ministry Of Education, Culture, Youth & Sport, Government of Malta
Starting date: 28 September 2009
Projected completion date: 13 March 2013

The Maltese planning system is experiencing interesting times. A number of recent initiatives by the Kamra tal-Periti (KTP), the Maltese Chamber of Architects and Civil Engineers, and other non-governmental organisations point towards the need for an informed debate about design quality in the built environment. In 2010, central Government initiated a planning reform. To date however, this has remained focused on the reform of planning procedures within the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) rather than on quality targets.

These are also challenging times. The post-recession period and the slowdown in the construction industry follow decades of intense residential development, particularly in the urban fringes, fuelled by short-term profit maximisation at the expense of broader qualitative considerations. It also follows a decade of a 'major projects' culture, which has included large-scale gated communities and private 'internal' developments with questionable benefit to the public realm. It is thus the optimal time to undergo a research of the Maltese planning system, spurred on by the expectation among design professionals of a planning system that sets design quality targets in both its forward planning and development control processes so as to achieve a higher-quality design outcome in the Maltese built environment.

Taking the island of Malta as a case study, the research questions the degree to which urban design quality is dependent on a planning system. It seeks to establish the critical issues in policy-making and development control processes that encourage or preclude quality design outcome in the built environment. Using a mixed methodology comprising both quantitative and qualitative research tools, the research develops 'process'- and 'product'-related analytical frameworks that respectively assess key themes within the planning process and the quality of design outcome 'on the ground', in order to determine their possible correlations.


Antoine graduated in architecture and civil engineering with First Class Honours from the University of Malta in 2002, with periods of study at the Universities of Birmingham and Bologna, obtaining his professional warrant to practise as a Perit in December 2003. In July 2004 he was awarded a scholarship by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the United Kingdom to read a post-graduate MSc degree in Town and Country Planning, specialising in Urban Design, at the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London. He terminated this Masters course with a Distinction, and was awarded the prize for effort by the Bartlett School of Planning. 

Antoine has worked on projects in Italy, the Republic of Ireland and Malta. He has recently set up his own urban design consultancy, studjurban, with the prime intention of championing high quality urban design on the island. studjurban strives to achieve this in practice through an iterative philosophy, linking research and collaboration to design and subsequently increasing awareness of place.

Antoine also currently lectures in spatial planning and urban design at the Faculty for the Built Environment of the University of Malta. He previously worked as a junior architect on the Manoel Island and Tigné Development with the Maltese consultancy aoM Partnership (2002-2004), was a Senior Associate at Malta-based architectural firm TBA Periti (2005-2010), was a member on the Planning Appeals Board (2006-2011) and a Council member of the Maltese Chamber of Architects and Civil Engineers (the Kamra tal-Periti, 2005-2007). 

Publications and other work

Zammit, A. (2007), 'Notes on Materiality', The Architect: the official journal of the Kamra tal-Periti, December 2007 Issue

Zammit, A. (2007), 'The stuff of architecture', Homeworks magazine, September 2007 Issue 

Zammit, A. (2006), 'The potential application of urban design codes in the Maltese planning system', Parts 1 and 2 The Architect: the official journal of the Kamra tal-Periti, Spring/Summer 2006 Issues

Zammit, A. (2006), 'Let's talk architecture', The Sunday Times of Malta, Classified section, 23 July 2006

Zammit, A. (2006), 'Urban Design codes in the Maltese planning system', The Sunday Times of Malta, Classified section, 5 March 2006