White Rocks Complex
White Rocks Complex. I’ve heard a lot about this place. I’ve been driving pass it for many years, yet I’ve only visited it few months ago.
Unfortunately for me, by the time I actually went to explore it, 95% of the complex doors and windows were closed off with brick walls making it impossible to enter. Yes, I’m sure it was done with the best intentions as there reports of people living there as well as illegal wrong doings, but a shame for any street arts lovers.
White Rocks, often referred to as the ghost complex, is an abandoned set of buildings that has been damaged due to natural causes, but mainly by vandalism.
It’s situated on the coast of Bahar ic-Caghaq offering stunning views of the Mediterranean sea. The location is magnificent, but the complex has seen better days. What was it originally built for and what happened to it?
The White Rocks Complex, covering an area of 450,000 square meters, was built by British forces in the 1960s. Back then, the area was known as the St Patrick’s Officers Married Quarters and was used for accommodation purposes.
The accommodation was of high quality in a mix of 4 bedroom house and 3 bedroom flats. All of them were provided with telephone and a garage.
When the military personnel left Malta in 1979, White Rocks was passed on to the Government and gradually converted into a holiday complex, which was designed by Richard England.
It was run by the Secretariat for Tourism and was providing accommodation for language students during summer months until 1995.
The White Rocks development has been in limbo for over 20 years now. Back in 1999 the development of the site was attempted by the government, but failed to gain any momentum and was put on hold.
In 1999 the tourism ministry actually invites proposals for the purchase and development of White Rocks area. There are three bidders, one of them is Costa San Andrea whose proposal was approved in 2001 and projected completion date of 2003.
The permit for the €58 million project is issued by the Planning Authority in 2003 and the completion date is moved to 2007. However in 2004 the government and Costa San Andrea get into an disagreement over real estate issues and the contract is not signed.
In 2010 the government announced a €200 million project to transform the site into a sports village with 300 residential units and promised 800 jobs. These plans were never materialized.
Fast forward to 2014, the project is re-initiated by Ministry of the Economy, Investment and Small Businesses Chris Cardona. In 2017 the project is on hold because the government and the White Rocks Development Consortium is in disagreement on the value of the land.
The latest plans for the White Rocks site were announced in January 2018, when it was proposed to turn the area into a mixed-use complex, which would include a seven-star luxury hotel along with leisure, hospitality, residential and commercial units.
Now in April 2021 as you can see from the photos, nothing has change and the site keeps on deteriorating. Only street artists keep it alive.
Street Art Hub
There are hundreds of graffiti and two stunning three-storey-high murals. Let’s have a closer look at them. Who are the artists behind them and what are the meanings of these murals?
The author of this first mural is Maltese street artist James Micallef Grimaud, better known as Twitch. It was created back in summer 2014 and as Twitch says in one interview for Times of Malta: ‘The concept behind mine is a social one – the Monopoly man represents how certain people in power get away with everything and are reigning over society,’ Mr Micallef Grimaud said.
People are driven by money which is symbolized by a €10 note impaled on a large butcher’s hook floating in front of the monopoly man. On the cart behind him is a statue of Lady Justice with her blindfold pushed up onto her forehead, together with factory buildings and the facade of a Wall Street building – the hub of financial markets.
‘The oxen represent people working hard while the floor of skulls means that everyone keeps going over everything – there is no sense of guilt anymore,’ James Micallef Grimaud added. His masterpiece was ready withing 6 days and consumed around 120 cans of spray.
The author of this second large mural ‘One World’ is Mark “Meataxe” Taylor. It was created in 2014 and the author was actually a winner of a competition that gave him the right to create this mural.
Basically Londson Street Design UK Magazine and Add More Colors together ran a competition via Facebook where the winner received an expenses paid trip to paint at the Sliema Street Art Festival in Malta. And the winner was ‘Meataxe’. I’ve emailed Mark to ask him a bit more about his mural, but he didn’t get back to me yet.
There is so much street art around the complex it’s impossible to fit it all in this blog. These are only a very small sample of what you can see at White Rocks. There is a lot!
Now who remembers the Rainbow aircraft at Montekristo Estate? Well the author of the plane’s makeover is Nicolas Bamert from Switzerland and he also visited and created at White Rocks! Unfortunately this is (below) the only piece of this art (I believe it’s his) that was accessible to me.
He did a whole room colorfully decorated with watermelons, but it was impossible to access it without a ladder. As you can see some people just have no respect to fellow street artists and spray their pointless signatures over it.
This is the entrance to one of the few buildings that is still accessible. The White Rocks pool area. Yes, it was closed off and broken in again, so I used the opportunity to check it out. No I was not alone, I was with few friends. I would never go alone in such places, as you never know who you will come across, so please just be careful.
It’s dark, it smells, it’s falling apart, one can say it’s dangerous, yet there is something about this place that keeps on calling your name. You just want to explore it and imagine what it must have been like back in the day. Again, the pool area and this building that’s attached to it are covered in graffiti. Some street art is amazing, some is okey and some is just ‘destroying’ some amazing work of fellow artists.
I know what you want to say, it’s vandalism. But is it really? This building has been left to disrepair for more than 20 years, isn’t that more of a vandalism? The White Rocks complex has been transformed into an open air street art gallery.
Welcome to the pool area. Probably the coolest part of the whole complex, apart from those two murals of course. If you come and check out the complex, don’t miss this part.
White Rocks Complex is indeed in a state of disrepair and you may not be a fan of abandoned buildings, but a walk though the complex accompanied with those murals and many other street arts is definitely an interesting one.