The Atelier Albania Summer Academy (AASA) began in 2015 as a forum to explore new methodologies in urban planning education and to elaborate a critical approach to tourism development. AASA’s purpose is to be the linkage point between two kinds of knowledge; the technical knowledge of urban planners (“processed knowledge”), and the “personal knowledge,” based on experience, of local residents. These two forms of knowledge are not hierarchical, they are simply different. Through sustained conversation in the field, AASA works to define common ground between the goals of the state in the realm of tourism development, and the goals of citizens, and to illustrate scenarios of overlapping interests.
The Atelier Albania Summer Academy carves out a space within architecture research in Albania that does not currently exist: it seeks to flatten hierarchies between student and teacher, and to treat inquiry as a practice of delight. With great purpose, the Summer Academy dispenses with the staid architecture research methodologies imposed by the for-profit university system in Albania, rejecting its insistence on scientific language—certain that the thinking that occurs through that language eradicates imagination and independence.
In our method of working, the instructor is a facilitator; leading dialogue toward goals and schedule, and helping define intellectual and ethical criteria. But ideas belong to the group and are debated openly among equals. Tourism is about pleasure, and to be able to access that concept in the most productive way, the Summer Academy insisted that a deliberate tone of playfulness in research ought to be considered a noble pedagogical aspiration.