The Albanian Government proposes, under the auspices of the Ministry of Urban Development, and in close coordination with all the policies that will assent to develop the country, to build an unusual method based on designing to promote urban development as an national development incubator. The tool for this method is Atelier Albania.
The global economy of the 21st century is a network economy. It has no center, no boundaries: there are distributors. Everything that is not part of this network does not exist, everything that connects is transformed into a distributor. For this reason, the challenge is transforming into a strong distributor. In an interconnected polycentric world, Albania does not have to be out of the reach. It can be thrown where the action is.
Action is more and more active in cities. Globalization has different meanings, but in essence is a growing network of urban systems; not-states, but large urban spaces, or metropolitan regions that today hold the rudder of the world economy, define culture, accommodate the media, and ease the hunger for creativity and innovation. Cities direct change! Urban development is moving towards the center of the social, cultural and political agenda; the prosperity of the future, both in ecological and economic terms, is increasingly dependent on good governance of urban development policies. In order to respect the laws and regulations of a country, it is not only necessary to strengthen the legal system. A new development vision is needed that includes all stakeholders: builders, engineers, investors, etc. To achieve this, the ministry will open a new dimension, which will determine the conditions and processes for future projects. This additional program is Atelier Albania.
Atelier Albania will develop the process for urban and territorial transformation projects with close cooperation with all interested ministries, as well as all public or private parties with direct interest in territorial and urban development. Atelier Albania will design and coordinate the process for drafting a plan. It will function as a permanent platform for cooperation between local experts, foreign experts, and interest groups; by building capacities at all levels of society in terms of spatial, territorial, and urban development in Albania. Atelier Albania will be an instrument for project building and donor liaison with country's priorities and with the appropriate local and foreign expertise.
The basic methodology that permeates every AA's action or effort is "Research through Design". The design will be used as a research tool, as an active creative force in all phases of each process - namely from the initial formulation of policies and approaches to their final implementation. This methodology assumes a working method marked by seven main points:
- starting from the internal dynamics of a community or society;
- advancing towards a common definition of a problem or ambition;
- capacity building through exchanges and cooperation;
- accelerating the process through the practice of an integrated approach (ie related to planners, designers, engineers, ecologists, economists, etc.);
- interconnection of short-term projects and activities with long-term strategies;
- production of visibility and public performance (exposure of projects to interest groups and the general public);
Atelier Albania will pursue a dual trajectory: running a series of open-minded contests across the country, in different scales and contexts (Lot 1) and at the same time formulating a clear vision of territorial planning in Albania (Lot 2) .
SHORT TERM - Part of Atelier's projects will deal with the "organization" of individual strategic projects (open calls/ competitions). For each project, AA is committed to composing and reviewing the terms of references with all interest groups, and will propose procedures for successful implementation of the project beneficiary. This will allow the testing of proposed methods from AA in the context of the environment to create tangible short-term results. Through this channel will be built the funds for the functioning of the structure of Atelier Albania through the investments of interested groups for various projects.
LONG TERM - In parallel, drafting a long-term strategy will begin with the work of defining a concrete and contextual vision of territorial planning in Albania, in order to determine a program with "projects" that will be launched in continuity by Atelier. To achieve this goal, Atelier Albania will carry out a rapid territorial investigation and will realize a temporary development vision from which the priorities and instruments to be used, as well as the roles and responsibilities to be assigned will be selected. The provisional development vision will outline the underlying relationship between spatial policies and economic development, and build on domestic dynamics and needs. These project definitions can be understood as the first step but important one in the creation of the National Territorial Plan, the Regional Plan of the Coast as well as the Development Plan of the Tirana-Durres region.
Basically, Atelier Albania will be a program with projects. By linking priorities to planning instruments, priorities are returned to long-term projects and defined budgets. Financing can be found through the project and interest groups. The purpose of Atelier Albania is not to design some major government projects but to install proper idioms so that the private sector will realize the public program. Projects are divided into three main groups in order to match the specific project types and the most straightforward procedures. They are: open calls (competitions), pilot projects and laboratories (research/ planning).
Open calls (competitions) are individual projects initiated by public or private parties, which are processed in AA for their strategic significance. These can be building projects but also urban development projects. Atelier Albania, in consultation with local experts and independent experts, will evaluate the terms of references for these projects as well as propose procedures for their implementation.
Pilot projects are (groups of) projects initiated by Atelier Albania with specific topics such as housing, education, informality, infrastructure, landscape, heritage, water, etc. The purpose of these projects is to investigate and create examples and possible solutions to problems commonly encountered in the territory of the country. Although these projects originate from topics proposed by AA, projects will be developed by local public and private entities. In certain cases these pilot projects can be financially assisted by the central government.
Laboratories (research/ planning) are comprehensive action plans for core strategic areas within the territory, each of which consists of several sub-projects. The first topics to be considered in this regard are the National Plan for Territorial Development, the development of the coast from Velipoja to Butrinti and the Tirana-Durres metropolitan area.