The National Spatial Plan (GNSP) provides the strategic reference framework for sustainable territorial development for the next 15 years, in order to ensure balanced economic and social national development, responsible management of natural resources, environmental protection, all while ensuring the rational land use. The GNSP is introduced not only as fulfillment of a legal obligation, but also as a prerequisite to achieveing the governmental program objectives to enhance citizens’ welfare and national economic growth by reducing inequalities, strengthening the strategic partnership with neighboring countries and implementation of policies that foster competitiveness of economic sectors, thus ensuring integration in the European Union.
The Albanian Government and the National Spatial Plan have identified the Tiranë-Durrës area, as one of the most important economic areas of the country, and of the Balkan region. To ensure a sustainable territorial and urban development of this area, the Ministry of Urban Development in cooperation with the National Territorial Planning Agency has taken the initiative to draft a Cross-sectoral Integrated Plan for the economic area Tiranë – Durrës. The metropolitan region under study includes territories administered by 5 municipalities: Tiranë, Durrës, Vorë, Shijak, Kamëz.
The integrated coastal plan is a strategic document which aims to develop a balanced, controlled, and sustainable coastal area. This strategic document for the next 15 years aims at addressing the coastal space as a well-integrated territory of both the interior territory and the maritime space. It aims at the creation of an integrated and interrelated system of the tourism, culture, agriculture and nature sectors. Diversification of the touristic package of the coast, which will also lead to the extension of the tourist season, while turning the country into an attractive destination.
Albania, though often perceived otherwise, can be seen as a country potentially rich in terms of human capital and natural resources. The question then, is how its capital and resources can be activated to sustainably boost locally added value for what Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama has termed Next Generation Albania.
Of course, the challenges in Albania are immense when looked at from the perspective of having to catch up with the rest of Europe. On the other hand, it is good to consider that all nations, not only in Europe but also in the rest of the world, now face the same challenge as Albania: how to successfully make the transition to the next economy, to a green and low carbon economy in a resilient post-fossil future.
Could Albania not skip the catching-up phase, and focus instead on how to leapfrog into the twenty-first century? The current situation offers Albania a window of opportunity. Indeed, much of what is considered in arrears today can be smartly developed into the foundation of a next, resilient economy.
“Farmers with a View” is the inaugural program of the Atelier Albania Summer Academy, supported by the National Territorial Planning Agency (AKPT) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (German Corporation for International Cooperation) (GIZ).
Farmers with a View set out to investigate the status of tourism in four mountain villages in the Albanian Riviera—Pilur, Kudhës, Old Qeparo, and Old Himarë. And to figure out why these villages remain impervious to tourist income, while the towns along the beaches below overflow with it. Our goal: catalyze villages toward tourism with sensitive, impactful, low-cost ideas.
The timing of the Summer Academy coincided with the busiest week of the summer season, exposing the stark contrast between the beach towns and the mountain villages. Where below an unbearable pressure for space and services erupts during the high season, the villages above remain intact; empty and waiting. Returning in the first week of September to discover an entire region almost unrecognizable from itself only two weeks before, it felt like we had the Bregdet to ourselves, there were no people to be found. We lived the elation and the disappointment that come with the wild swings in the tourism season, in physical space, and in real time. We think there is great promise for the people in these places to smartly and efficiently begin to bring money into their pockets, with little physical impact. The following pages elaborate our ideas for how we think these four towns could wisely approach their nascent tourism economies.
EVOKED is a visual research on Albanian informal constructions. When in 1990s migratory wave found coastal towns unprepared, the growth of housing needs created a new type of land organization based on a parasitic exploitation along the coast road, where concrete frame buildings popped up. The architectural diptych brings together 16 Albanian and 16 Italian architects who are asked to work on the same photographed construction, to elaborate and manipulate an unfinished house via mixed media artworks. The expected output of this exhibition is a public debate on the informal structures/buildings that make most of the Albanian built environment. There is a need to become aware of this reality that can not be demolished or ignored. Architecture needs to reflect and find out new visions to innovate their relationship with context/ environment/ landscape and ways of occupying/ using/ reusing and even completing the unfinished construction works.
Vlora is one of the most beautiful coastal urban sites in the Albanian coast. It attracts quite a large number of tourists every season but also during the entire year, especially during weekends. These are facts that make Vlora receive a lot of public attention. Therefore the design of the Waterfront promenade should be a product of not a single designer or a single studio. It should be a product of a collective public opinion through an instrument that ensures the expression of interest of many designers, finalized by an open and transparent selection of the wide public facilitated by the local and international expertise.
An international, open, one stage, [partly] anonymous urban design competition would be the right instrument to guarantee the aimed product. The call for participation will be open to all national and international designers, but also to team of about to graduate students of architecture, urban design or landscape design programs. There will be awarded two winning prizes, one for the best design and the other for the best local team/designer. The winner that will be contracted to execute the design will be a team composed of those two winners, the best design winning team and the best local team/designer. The final product will be negotiated between them and the promoter (implementing unit/ Atelier Albania). The city of Vlora, as the beneficiary, will be active and part of the process throughout its duration.
The purpose of the competition is to generate ideas that will lead to urban improvement detailed projects as well as public and/or private interventions. These will help each area foster a better identity while at the same time improve the area’s connection and interrelation with all of its surroundings. The competition for southern coastal strip and its close settlements stems from the need to improve the urban condition and the use of the touristic area along the strip, as well as the connections that link the coastal strip to the new and old settlements nearby.
The coastal strip is a national asset serving to all local and international tourists. It cuts through many small cities and in this perspective the whole country is the beneficiary, while the communities along the strip and the inhabitants of the old and new settlements will be direct beneficiaries. There is a need to extend the touristic season in order to generate more sustainable income for the region.
The purpose of the competition is to generate ideas that will lead to urban improvement detailed projects and public interventions. These will help each area foster a better identity while at the same time improve the area’s connection and interrelation with all of its surroundings.
The competition for Tirana-Durres corridor stems from the need to improve the urban condition of the area along the corridor. It is one of main circulation axis of Albania that connects the two biggest cities in the country and again connects them both to the airport. It has become an economic corridor that brings large revenue to the country. It cuts through many small cities and in this perspective the whole country is the beneficiary, while the communities along the corridor will be direct beneficiaries. From an organizational perspective the competition slices the Tirana -Durres corridor into three segments/ lots: the area which connects Tirana to the metropolitan highway, the area which connects Durres to the metropolitan highway, and the city of Vora which is split in half by the metropolitan highway.
This competition is based on a test site and is looking for ways of making places resilient. It is using design as a tool to search for best possible solutions of resilience in riverside conditions. It is also looking for ways of developing natural landscapes and defining ‘urban by nature’. Being a test site, it means that the findings of the process can be shared with many other similar context or sites that are at a flooding risk zone and lack features of being resilient. In this perspective, this exercise serves more than the city of Berat. The proposals might become an inspirational source for other sites in Albania or beyond its borders.
The competition for a Master Plan and rehabilitation of “City of Students” comes as a need to improve the physical and functional conditions of the unit “University Student Residences No. 1”, as well as to determine its borders and connections to informal settlements on the outskirts of the “City of Students”. This state residential campus is a national treasure and an asset that serves the majority of students studying in universities and higher education in Tirana. Its physical conditions today, do not allow a variety of forms of accommodation, as well as possible management models that could transform it in a self-financing asset. Today it presents a‘burden’ to the state budget and so it also needs to be re-conceptualized from a financial logic perspective. But the re-conceptualization of new management models is closely linked to the spatial and architectural re-conception of the “City of Students”. At the end of this initiated process,we believe that the “City of Students” will be transformed into a very attractive students’ destination, which will serve to more students and will be a model that can be self-financed.
The entry to Lake Park for years has been the subject of several project initiatives. It has constantly been in search of for the best way to connect with the city through an intermediate space, but it also requires an image,or emblem as an entry into the Park. Questions about directly treating the Lake Park entrance generate from its positioning by one of the edges of the Boulevard “Martyrs of the Nation” and the direct link to the “Mother Teresa” Square. Regardless of the fact that Tirana Park is located so close to these two main areas of the capital, the connection between them remains quite weak. On the other hand, “Mother Teresa” Square has the need for a reorganization, because it is a public space with great potential,but with limited use during time periods of the day, as well as in terms of programmatic variety. Also, in formal terms, “Mother Teresa” Square needs a spatial outline. The master plan of Tirana Center, has proposed connectivity of “Mother Teresa” Square with Boulevard “Martyrs of the Nation” through a program of university facilities, which outline the area of the square and connect with Tirana Park through university buildings.
The edifices that are subjected to the design and curatorial call for proposals, comprise the four buildings: Palace of Brigades, National Historic Museum, Villa of the ex-communist party leader, former League of Writers and Artists. The intended Cultural Quartet is located in the capital city of Tirana, within a radius of 1km.
The competition is seeking to incorporate historic preservation as a creative hands-on approach towards place making, by both strengthening the connection between community and the historic building-stock they share. Therefore the adaptive reuse of the buildings and monuments for various functions (education, exhibition, social and community services, cultural activities) is looking forward to maximizing the shared value, particularly paying attention to the physical, cultural and social identities that define the place and its future transformations. The intervention includes rehabilitation of existing infrastructure (upgrading or provision of services when deemed necessary) and restoration of the needed components. Adaptive re-use of the buildings needs a powerful programmatic or procedural vision how they could play again an important role in civic and cultural life of Tirana. The goal would be to develop programmatic scenarios which make use of the existing spaces as much as possible and only transform them whenever the proposed strategy finds it relevant.
In 2005 the city of Gjirokastra, otherwise identified as the “Stone-City”, is declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The castle, which dates back in the beginning of XIV century, is considered to be first nucleus of the city and forms the centre of the urban composition. The other part of the city lays in a sloppy terrain, which becomes a predominant factor in defining the dynamic character of the city. Terrain diversity has influenced the compositional design of neighborhoods as separate units.
It is the purpose of this competition that through the design of the Bypass Road, to make the Bazaar area a pedestrianized quarter which historical character and elements will not be threatened any longer by car traffic. Through this project and its subsequent implementation, the mobility issues of historic centre of Gjirokastra will get an answer through design and not simply by engineering solutions as it is usually the case. The construction of this new circulation ring must be well integrated with the existing road system/pattern of the city, as well as it must assure the preservation and conservation of all historical, cultural and landscape values of Historical Centre and Protected Area of the city of Gjirokastra. The bypass when implemented will serve to all citizens and visitors of Gjirokastra, as well as it will keep the historical centre activities undisturbed by the traffic.
This competition is built on the theme of faith and religious harmony, being values that Albanians would like to show and share with the entire world. A different public space quality is going to be achieved through this competition and when implemented it will be used by the citizens of Tirana,who as Mediterranean live a lot outdoors, by visitors that might travel to learn about Albania and Albanian culture and particularly experience the religious harmony that defines us among other values.The area of the competition at focus is displayed in the competition site
map and comprises a series of open/public spaces, positioned alongside the edges of Boulevard “Martyrs of the Nation”. The scope of this competition furthermore includes other potential public spaces, gardens and parks throughout the city. The very center of the ‘Tirana Park of Faith’ will be the open space that surrounds the ‘Pyramid’, as well as the ‘Pyramid’ serving as a starting point and destination.
“Where Cold Spring Water Bubbles and Cool Breezes Blow in Summer” is a product of Atelier Albania Summer Academy 2017, that envisions the future of tourism in the Vjosa Valley.
This book aims to help development professionals, entrepreneurs, and policy-makers visualize a tourism program for the Vjosa Valley that will not undermine its most precious commodity: peace.
The five business plans that follow constitute a carefully tuned program of cultural heritage, culinary excellence, contemporary art, and natural monuments dispersed throughout the valley. Four of the plans are distinct tourism ventures, while the fifth is an umbrella structure that would manage the ventures and oversee their expansion over time. Each business plan presents management protocols, market analyses and strategies, and financial projections.
This approach should be applied to rural tourism planning in Albania at large. This book is specific to the conditions of the Vjosa Valley, but defines values that are applicable to the entire country. Indeed, the following strategy lays out a vision for how to think about the future of what village life itself should be.