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Osumi River Park

VISION

Berat is a historical city located in the Southern part of Albania. The city is very important in terms of historical architecture of the country and is inscribed under the UNECSO World Heritage Convention.The Island of Berat, is morphologic geographical site formed by the river Osum. The island represents an interesting opportunity to test the creation of resilient places towards natural conditions.

The Island of Berat represents a perfect opportunity to be used as a connecting point for the historical site of the city. Hence, it is aimed to convert this space as part of the network of the city and its neighboring urban spaces.

Berat lays parallel to the river Osum, mimicking the geographical morphology of the hills, which define the boundaries of the city. Taking into consideration two neighborhoods, Mangalem- where the castle is found and Goricë- these are the narrowest parts of the city, where can be found the bridge that connects these two parts. Hence, all the activities of the city are concentrated parallel to the Osum River. The Berat Island represents a possibility to expand the city while preserving its shape. The island can perform as a central part of the city while serving as a site for tourist and at the same time as a site for urban ecology and even urban wildlife.

The perpendicular tracks will make possible to connect pedestrians with the hills of the city, as well as will serve as a shortcut to other nature sites surrounding the city. Thus, these trucks would run across the Berat Island, than in the city center, moving along the pedestrian areas, parks and then again to the hills near the city. It is proposed that these perpendicular tracks would be a good connection to the urban environment, natural environment, public spaces within Berat as well as form an easy escape to the new formed urban natural public space-

THE OSUMI RIVER PARK.

The Island of Berat should be a resilient space. The land site and the river has been long fighting for a territorial identity. Thus, first it need to be studied the natural interaction of the river and the land. It is being observed that Osum River continuously creates different morphologies to the island, or the Islands, as we would prefer to call them. These geographical morphologies are worth studying as are the key variables to understand the relationship of the island to the water. Studying the movement of this geographical morphologies in different given times, it is possible to learn about the history of these islands.

Hence, our vision is first to study the interaction of the water and the land, using archives, photo image and other data and evidence including the level of the river water in different times of the year. This methodology will make possible the creation of a tool kit that can be universal in it usage in other areas with similar variables as the Berat Island.

STRATEGIES

This strategy is mainly based on accepting the actual situation and the fact that flooding is an inevitable issue, in no massive intervention scenarios. On the other hand the impact of these sorts of interventions will not affect the biodiversity of the river. When talking about physical impact, this strategy consists on the creation of simple bridge-like passages and small afforestation interventions. The costs required are very low and they are related with a short-term scenario implementation. With this sort of intervention as long as it is accepted the fact that the island can be flooded during a certain period of time, the usability will be less than 100% of the whole surface of the island, but still the utilization of the paths and bridges will be consistent. On the other hand we have again a very strong impact in the city, as long as the shape of intervention leaves a mark on the city pattern. One extra advantage of this strategy is that it requires les maintenance and preserves nature into its wild state.

Afforestation: Trees are planted near to the river. This means greater interception of rainwater and lower river discharge. This is a relatively low cost option, which enhances the environmental quality of the drainage basin.

Ecological flooding: The River is allowed to flood naturally in places, to prevent flooding in other areas – for example, near settlements.

DESIGN ANALYSIS

Through a general overview of Berat’s typography and morphology the placement of the island is quite remarkable. Though its existence is not much livable due to its accessibility problems. If we observe further the changing topography of the river the composition of several small islands and the growth of green vegetation we mark that the creation of the island was as a cause of the funnel shape of the river bed when reaching the city center. In the diagram where we analyze the location of the functions around the city as well as the accessibility network we mark that the concentration of the tourists attractions, and the UNESCO World Heritage sites, are located to the northwest of our site. Some other attractions are located to the northern part of the site and are related with the area only visually and have as a divider the wall barrier that lays along the river. If we analyze the accessibility network we read different types of paths and pedestrian networks. Some of the most remarkable are the historical paths inside the old neighborhoods. Such a way we consider very important to emphasize the pedestrian pattern by giving a slight contribution to the city.

As an attractor the island holds interesting potentials. In a general analysis of the urban, touristic and green attractions the island will hereby be integrated as an important hub of recreation. In these terms the island will in such way dress different types of attractions and be a contributor to each of them. The urban attractions as the central ones and secondary ones, spread around the city and correlated to each other throughout the thin line of accessibility between Gorica and Mangalemi neighborhoods. UNESCO’s World Heritage sites are the main tourist attractors of Berat and do give a very strong identity to the whole city. But in a more detailed analysis the Castle stays more separated from the other two sites. The most accessed area is Mangalemi neighborhood; still Gorica is a bit bypassed. On the other hand the green gives a very potent impact in the city and dresses up a second identity to it.

The new urban park is located in the central heart of the city, along the river. On the other hand the river holds a very impressive potential but lacks accessibility. On the other hand the lower eastern part of the river is very much accessible but located further away from the other attractions. We do have the mountain toping with the castle, which represents a very strong visual impression. The island in itself is a very natural created composition and changes it’s shape and vegetation during different periods of the year. In relation to these three different attractors we start to dress to the island portions of them, such a way to make it a very strong mark for the city itself. Our touch is very slight and in terms as an urban attractor would be a new hub of events lived into the wild.

The island can host from concerts and huge events to simple daily life activities such as fishing or jogging. As a tourist attractor besides offering it’s own events such as a stop point for rafting, green activities or festivals, the island with our intervention offers an interesting observation pedestrian path from which one can enjoy the view of the all the three to historical together. Our proposal is in such terms a slight touch to the existing natural island, emphasizes the qualities of the land and contributes to it by offering a new experience of enjoying wild nature, landscape and new public events.

In a more visionary proposal the continuity of our project would be the connection within the island, the green existing park and pedestrian area, the old neighborhoods and the castle. The network of pedestrian paths, connections and impressions is marked by three interesting moments. The first one is the mark we leave into the land, which is a circle path that surrounds the center of the island. Thereby going toward the city, we redefine the border within the city and the river. The new pedestrian area consists on the coexistence of green areas and tiny paths. The last stage of intervention is the addition of electric stairs that take locals and tourists from Mangalami neighborhood up to the castle. The creation of this connection will enrich the existing pattern.

WHY A CIRCLE?

The circle is a symbol of union, landmark and natural shape throughout the ancient history and civilizations. We find the circle in ancient human settlements that mark a very important spiritual and physical relation with the nature. Such example is the very impressive Stonehenge. The circle in itself has always fascinated humans with its perfect shape. Still the circle is a metaphor for the cycle of life, for all the new beginnings for its absolute perfection and for the elegance of the shape. Current flows show that there is no connection between the existing urban fabric and the riverfront at the present day. We redefine the edge by introducing the circle that sews up city of Berat with the island by a new riverfront. The circle generates a new flow system along the riverfront and inside the island, activating the whole area.

DESIGN PROPOSAL

The existing green of the island is very wild and has a casual growth. It includes different types of vegetation where on the highest points trees characterize the landscape. On its slope the lower vegetation, such as types of grasses and bushes rein the whole surface. On the other hand mud land and groups of rocks cover the land closer to the riverbed. In our approach we keep the nature as it is, in a wild state, and introduce only the path that slightly touches the ground. Our footbridge has three openings, one main connection with the riverfront and two other connections with the island on its highest points. By making this slight intervention and preserving the actual state we do as well accept the fact that future floods can happen. On those scenarios what will be left above the water is only the ring footbridge. In this case with the addition of the bridge the eluviation will deposit soils and rocks to the bridge pylons. The depositions after a certain period of time will become potential space for new green growth. In this way the landscape will be on a continuous state of change.

We can divide the deposition of sediments in three phases. Everything starts while in winter and the river has a stronger stream and higher quantity of water. The high intensity of water fills up the riverbed and floods the wetlands. The River brings with itself huge eluviation such as soil and pebbles. The second moment of the scenario is when sediments deposit on the bridge pylons. The depositions create such a way smaller compositions of land. While the time passes the sediments will augment and cause a natural growth of wild vegetation. Such a way there will be a natural addition of the landscape. This proposal protects and emphasized more the biodiversity of the land and contributes to the creation of a complex pattern.

The two scenarios depicted in the visualizations show the relation within the River, the footbridge and the Osumi River Park. In the first scenario, during summer time most of the Osumi Island is uncovered and such a way the utilization of the land is in it’s highest peak. On the other hand the winter scenario shows the river on medium flow intensity and the most accessed area is the footbridge. The flooding scenario that affects the city in itself, but still in history is shown as a very rare case, it is caused by the sewage system and the rain water system of the city of Berat.

Because of the rise of the river water the pipe system is flooded and such as way the city in itself is flooded. To prevent such dark scenario the intervention needed is the proposal of new sewage and rain water system. Throughout this strategy the water is channeled into a system that goes along the river and deposits the waters outside of the city.

With this strategie of intervention and protection of the existing flora and fauna we propose the creation of the new Osumi River Park. The River Park is now fully exposed and the ring footbridge is integrated with the landscape. The ring looks like it has always been part of the landscape and gives the opportunity to access the natural landscape. The fluid movement of a revealing promenade from which one can enjoy the view of the historical city of Berat and its natural beauties surrounds the wild park. The space located within has now the pottential to host from huge events to simple daily life experiences. We have such a way created a new landmark that empasizes the attractions of the city and becomes an attraction in itself.

Hybrid Student City

Our entry on International competition “Student City” organized by Atelier Albania/ AKPT

Our strategy

Our proposal for the Student’s City Campus consists on the hybridization strategy, which is a redefinition of all the functions of the campus. The hybridization strategy will contribute on the addition of new necessary programs and the creation of mix typologies that will enrich the quality of life and spatial conditions. Having a hybrid building means to offer a typology that can host students and the locals that occupy all the surroundings of the city of students. In such a way we create a city within a city, where locals and students create the community and where students characterize the new society. The principal challenge of the master plan is to redefine undeveloped areas, to structure the existing spatial conditions, to propose new dormitory areas and such a way augmenting the number of students during one academic year. Reactivating bypassed areas and contributing with a complex of functions, are two important challenges we tackle. We aimed on creating a campus where students will find every necessity they need and in relation to their financial conditions. We believe in the potential that mixed used buildings have on the better development of social life. In terms of restoration and re-qualification, the challenge was to deal with a very old degraded construction, and with the partial change of some typologies.

 

Our approach consists on some specific points:

Experimental approach that lies in the fact that this project will bring different and maybe new solutions to what is being proposed nowadays in our reality. Questions concerning about what is experimental, how can we transform it into a paradigm, and what will this approach bring to

The “bottom-up” approach, where modernist-planning mechanisms will not make changes and decision. Understanding cities complexity was suggested by authors such as Jane Jacobs (1961) and Christopher Alexander, through their arguments against the mechanistic of ‘top‐down’ scope of Modernist planning propositions, which suggest that the design is able to set, control and limit potential functions.

In contrast, Jacobs suggested[1] that the problem that cities constitute should be addressed through inductive thinking and ‘thinking of’ processes. This implies a consideration of city organization as a complex field where multiple variables are “interrelated into an organic whole”.

Secondly, the idea of space syntax treatment[2], where the space is not just a backdrop for human activities. Space also takes form social context, but also gives form to this context. In this way, space and context are reflected into each other.

The general idea is that spaces can be divided into components, introduced as networks of choices and then represented as maps as graphs that describe the relative connectivity of those spaces

Change as a matrix.

Sometimes change may seem unpredictable, sometimes even chaotic, but if you can try to predict some changes that people usually do inside their living environments, later on you can use these types of changes as matrices that will condition every design process.

Flexibility in housing.

“Nowadays, average nuclear family continues to decline, but spaces still designed according to its needs. So, we need flexible types that make it possible to react to changing life circumstances by simple means.”[3]

Flexibility seems as something positive, but without forgetting opposite thoughts about this issue, we have to balance both negative and positive characteristics. The most important thing is to study the needs for flexibility in the Albanian context and to adapt the apartment scheme according to this reality.

HIGH DENSITY HOUSING

Collective housing architecture is one of the biggest protagonists of everyday architecture in the last century, period in which all the normative, formal and esthetic collections were established. This new typology was developed as a result of an enormous lack for accommodation after the migrant population reached the cities after the Great Wars in Europe. The huge demand for dwelling units required an economic and fast solution. Solution was a uniform building made by standardized components and subsystems. Final result was the thousands of hundreds of dwelling units that couldn’t be transformed and adapted according to different requirements for changes during the time. The first impact was really hard, because for the first time they had to deal with standardization, uniform, stiffness and sometimes even hygienic and dimensional problems.

High-density housing often creates social problems due to the lack of social interaction, anonymity of their inhospitable access environments and failure to provide adequate connection to outdoor space.

“High-density housing remains an anonymous field because the future users are rarely known.  This is a contradiction to the thesis that the best results are achieved if the building is tailored to the individual needs of the inhabitants.” [4]

We need to know how housing needs and other issues of the housing system, such as household numbers and types, are likely to evolve in the medium term, and how they will be affected by changing in economic, market and other conditions. Extending housing options for families in our city, keeps the community vibrant.

Besides all these problems, we can still provide living space with single home qualities by:

-noise protection,

-flexible completion options,

-patios or yards,

-separated entrances,

-latest in technology

-privacy,

-elements that are thought to give “freedom and comfort”

HIGH DENSITY OPTIONS: HYBRID VS SOCIAL CONDENSER

Based on soviet constructivist theories (mainly Moisei Ginzburg and Ignaty Milinis), the social condenser is a type of high-density building that suggests social behavior to its habitants. Its goal was to create public spaces located within the building that would behave like social hierarchy breakers.

Overlapping and layering programs within space through the usage of circulation created all this. Shared circulation areas would serve also as zones with different usages. Being located within the circulation paths, the intention was to stimulate social interaction.

A social condenser is a:

“Programatic layering upon vacant terrain to encourage dynamic coexistence of activities and to generate through their interference, unprecedented events.”

Ginzburg stated in late 1927 that the greatest task of the architect was to create “the social condensers of his epoch. These would serve spatial repositories for the forms of the new life.”

The first experimental dwellings designed for mass production would in the end prove disappointing, but Ginzburg still upheld the importance of industrializing construction in order to solve society’s housing crisis.

One of the buildings associated with the idea is the Narkomfin Building in Moscow (1928-1932) Political events had a huge impact upon the Narkomfin .The ambitions to be the architectural engine of social reform in Russia were so radical that they were abandoned almost as soon as the building was complete.

But there are also other examples such as Unite d’Habitation, the Gallatarese Complex in Milan, Park Hill in London etc.

But what are hybrid buildings?

Hybrid buildings are complex buildings that are not based on remnants of previous mixed typologies, fixed hoping to correlate with each other. They are a new being with a unifying personality that does not reflect any previous model or typology. They are celebrations of diversity, choice, and complexity, variety of programs and to the individual creation of the architect.

It works as a building with multiple skills, combining different functions into one where it feeds on the cross of public and private sphere.

The hybrid building is permeable from the city 24 hours, allowing also its habitants to use every function every time during the day/night timetable. This means that activities are constants and are not restricted by public/private rhythms. It is the creation of a new use building, a full time one.

If we want to describe these types of building by their form or appearance, we can say that they try not to respect the generic building principles of being united into one solid mass.

They function as a habitat created to change, in order to adapt with every programmatic and functional change. There are different examples from nowadays, but also some older ones such as: Torre Velasca, Ihme Zentrum etc.

If we can briefly compare the two types:

Hybrid building

  1. Diversity of uses, including residential
  2. Different initiatives
  3. Insertion adapted to the urban fabric
  4. Public uses

Social Condenser

  1. Residential building with a service program associated to the dwellings
  2. Public initiative
  3. Isolated location in the urban fabric
  4. Exclusive use of the service program by residents

As we see, hybrids are buildings that suit better the nowadays-urban conditions, giving to residents a rich program, but also fitting perfectly into the urban pattern of the city.

Being complex, they allow creativity and original solutions in the composition of the whole as part of a greater complex system, where nothing is predetermined. Typology is not anymore part of a prearranged scheme, but diversity in volumes prevails over tradition and approved practices.

It condenses the functions, but gives freedom to form.

Our aim is to disassemble and reconfigure known configurations into a new proposal that will be inserted into the Student’s City with certain rules that correlate with the existing spaces and buildings.

FLEXIBILITY AS A TOOL FOR REVITALIZATION

The word flexible is derived from the Latin word “flectere” which means bend, curve or bow. The Webster Dictionary describes it as: “capability to adapt to new, different or changing requirements.”

Flexible housing is defined in two ways: as housing that is designed for choice at the design stage, both in terms of social use and construction, or designed for change over its lifetime.

The tendency to design buildings that only correspond to a specific type of household at a specific point in time reflects a way of thinking that is predicated on short-term economics.[5

Families have indeed changed behavior and size and the services that they require are in rapid evolution. Every day we face new family typologies that constantly have different needs. It is no longer necessary to build series of standard houses but flexible homes genetically engineered where everything is different as so are its inhabitants. This means thinking about a residential space easily adaptable to changes over time and to different lifestyles and that allows changeable uses thanks to a higher flexibility.

It is very interested to see that flexibility is not a nowadays concept, but architects thought about this issue a long time ago. It was one of the topics discussed during CIAM meting in 1929, where the CIAM Congress was given the theme “the Minimum Subsistence Dwelling” the focus being on design solutions to the problem of high rents for low wage earners.

Also Mies van der Rohe has his own statement: “The constantly growing diversity of our housing needs, on the other hand, demands great flexibility in the use of the accommodation.  (…) If the architect limits himself to treating the kitchen and the bathroom as constants, because of their plumbing, while partitioning the remaining living area with movable walls, I believe that by these means it is possible to satisfy every reasonable dwelling need.”

According to different authors and researchers, we have different classifications of flexibility:

  1. Schneider and Till in Flexible Housing divide flexibility in 2 main types:

-SOFT Flexibility: “Refers to tactics which allow certain in determinacy. It allows the user to adapt the plan according to their needs, the designer effectively working in the background.”

-HARD Flexibility: “Refers to elements that more specifically determine the way that the design may be used. The designer works in the foreground, determining how spaces can be used over time”

“The design of the dormitory must be “an open process. “Open in the sense of offering continuous interaction with the different spheres of reality, also open in the sense to offer themselves a dialogue and debate that continues between the different participants in the process.

Floor plans must respond to shift in household configurations, changes in family (changing social conditions) Flexible apartments required where most rooms are usage neutral in-neutral space at entrance (guest room, study, additional bedroom). This means thinking beyond the classical way, or in other terms as to imagine the buildings as Platonic solids, Newtonian physics and Aristotelian categories. Flexibility lies also in having a room that can be furnished into different types of spaces.

The end product should be a model, which is relatively easy to use to test a wide range of scenarios.

ADVANTAGES DISADVANTAGES
 

FINANCIAL ARGUMENTS

“Whether flexibility is more expensive is difficult to measure.” But it eliminates old house’s maintenance for selling and new house’s buying.

DEMOGRAPHICS

“Treating housing as a static commodity with fixed design parameters, face problems because it arrives into a world of changing demographics.”

INTERNAL DYNAMICS

“Housing has to be flexible enough to deal with two conditions: the changing needs of individuals as they grow old or less physically able; and the changing constitution of a family as it grows and then contracts.”

OBSOLESCENCE

If housing is not able to respond to change, it becomes at best unsatisfactory, at worst, obsolescent.

USER

“The user acquires the ability to customize, the designs become adaptable, the flexible design enables users to make adjustments on their own terms..”

SUSTAINABILITY

“By acknowledging change as an underlying parameter but accepting the level and extent of change as unknown, flexible housing is inherently sustainable.”

 

 

 

SENSE OF BELONGING

“The awareness that a house can be

Transformed overnight may be disorienting.

It requires that dwellers change the way they think about their homes and the way that architects and builders think about their jobs.”[6]

UNNECESARY FLEXIBILITY

Spend unnecessary money that will never be used.

IMPOSSIBILITY OF ANTICIPATION

Nearly impossible to anticipate the user’s changes.

 

COMMON SPACES – THE CONCEPT OF INTRICACY

Speaking of hybrid buildings and freedom to readapt the living space, we cannot forget to mention the importance of common spaces in these types of complex buildings.

The hybrid is a conglomeration of public and private, where public sometimes prevails and dominates over the private parts.

We explained that in these types of buildings change serves as a matrix and this includes also common spaces.

Settlements that are marketed under the heading as ‘communicative housing’ tend to attract people with a ‘sociable predisposition’. They may expect to find neighbors open to interact with.

Social interaction in a neighborhood is very important for the development of a sustainable society. It develops where spatial characteristics support social interaction between neighbors.

The residential area has certain spatial characteristics that influence or even determine the content and form of the interactions (Kruse, 1974).

One can distinguish spaces that enhance interaction and communal actions from those that inhibit these cohesions.

There are different ways to create spaces that offer the opportunity for chance meetings and for interaction within the neighborhood, but mostly within the buildings.

– Restricting the number of dwellings in a block. Population size and density influence social interaction (Fisher et al., 1977). The size of a neighborhood should be manageable since large groups foster anonymity (Gehl, 1987);

If a certain number of dwellings are exceeded, dwellers just loose oversight as to who is occupant and who is not. The number of dwellings sharing one entrance mediates this factor. The entrances divide the residential population into subgroups, thus increasing clarity.

– Restricting the number of floors. Living high up in a building can result in a loss of contact with the ground floor: the area around the building is reduced to a transit zone, used only for coming and going.

– The ‘orientation’ of dwellings through front, side, and back doors may be outward or inward (AbuGhazzeh, 1999), i.e. the dwelling may open to the garden or a street, or may give the passer-by a feeling of inaccessibility. Which degree of openness or closure is beneficial for social cohesion is hard to say, and has to be considered in combination with the aspect ‘constellation’. It is assumed that dwellings that are orientated toward each other, further social cohesion more strongly than terraced housing, for example.

– Allowing room for play (Gehl, 1987)[7].

– Privatization of the green spaces into allotment gardens.

– Letting paths that residents use for daily activities cross, for example to the bus stop or to service units such as garbage cans (Abu-Ghazzeh, 1999).

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

A deep reflection of the long research on typologies is presented in every solution given to the architecture of the project. Flexibility, hybridity, multi-programs, communicative architecture, new physical typology, etc. are some of the words that could define what this project represents.

It tends to challenge conventional typologies, use innovative approaches in design and create new economic relations.

The whole building works as a mini city, but not in a social condenser type of behavior, more like a hybrid, that does not reflect a previous model, especially for the Albanian society.

Located in a place that the typology and function is strictly defined, the project is aiming on introducing also new behaviors, new lifestyles and new mentalities.

As a hybrid, it tends to merge with its urban pattern and its surroundings, avoiding strong limits and creating every day an inviting space for everyone.

It looks like a participatory project, where the students can decide a lot of things, but every decision is somehow conditioned by the program’s choices. Modules are predefined, extensions are predicted and common spaces are located in strategic places.

Commonly, housing projects are categorized into different typologies according to the number of habitants, circulation, number of floors etc. such as individual house, linear blocks, vertical towers etc.

What happens if we can mix together the positive aspects and benefits of each typology?

Some of the typologies are analyzed for some basic criteria: Privacy, public space, cost and efficiency.

Combining a few of the positive elements of the different typologies, we create a new typology, a hybrid one that takes every benefit from its components.

The new building becomes a complex system that tends to make diversity a tool for choices, a new entity with a unifying personality that does not reflect any previous model or typology, a building with multiple skills, combining different functions into one where it feeds on the cross of public and private sphere.

After combining typologies in form, flows and circulation allow that the transition from one part to the other is not even noticed, creating a being that works as an entire, even if it is created from different pre-conceived pieces.

Multi-programs

The programmatic indeterminacy is the process by which you can define an “open” project in which there is a diversified definition of the inhabited space from the increased multi-functionality and versatility of the areas of use. In the design of the project, diversity should prevail as a matrix, able to favor the coexistence of different types and multiple programs within mechanisms and structures.

The building works as a hybrid:

Diversity should affect the spatial aggregation not only in the horizontal plane but also on the vertical axis, not just residential but also “multi-programmatic” introduced in the design by the study of complex sections.

What usually happens nowadays in our cities and buildings is the fact that all the functions are gathered in the first floors, serving not just the inhabitants but also the casual passengers in the street. This makes a clear separation between the diversity of services provided at the bottom and the mono-functionality of housing at the top levels.

What if every floor has mixed functions and every time you go outside your room you find yourself with the same life rhythm, green spaces and functions as the first floor?

In every level we have not just a mix of different functions, but also different types of privacy. Usually buildings, especially housing ones have e very defined level of privacy: we can find a privacy gradient starting from private spaces in the first levels going up to the ones that are totally private. In this building everything messes up by combining different levels in the same floor.

All the functions are divided into: profitable ones, non-profitable and indeterminate spaces.

Profitable functions include some services like coffee shop, restaurant, medical office, different shops etc.

Non-profitable functions are generally the ones that are used by the habitants and by other visitors without paying for their usage. This includes Wi-Fi spaces, table games, cinema, library, gym and sports etc.

Indeterminate spaces are the ones that are functionally neutral; this means that they are spaces that serve the needs of the habitants: if you have some party or a special occasion; if you want to use this space for studying or doing your architectural model, you can use this kind of spaces that change over time and needs.

After defining all the different types of functions and the multi-programmatic approach to the building, the next step is to locate every function according to the accessibility, frequency of usage, common users etc.

The table shows the distribution of users into the apartments, in different parts of the building and the frequency of usage for every family typology. Student frequently uses some functions, while more large family typologies with children need different types of functions.

Support & infill / Modularity

Structural modules can be connected to form one residential unit. These units can then be arranged along a linear corridor or multiple-loaded interior stairwells. Studying all the flexible examples of housing, modularity come as a natural way to deal with change and transformations.

Modules 2,25m x 2,25m, good dimensions for different functions, compose the entire building. We can use half module for corridors, services etc. and double it or multiply it for rooms, public functions, open spaces etc.

Modularity is also helping in the structural aspect of the building, in a way that any change in the interior parts does not affect or is not affected by the structural grid.

Apartments are also divided into different modules, according to the family type or lifestyle. The smallest apartment is 10 square meters, just for one person, and the largest arrives up to 160 m2 for large families or as a form of individual villas.

Circulation

Circulation is one of the fundamental parts of the project.

The equation given by M.M. and exemplified maximally in the studies of Alexander Klein, states that the best space possible is the one that has:

Minimization of movement

+ no overlap of paths

+ programming  in relation of the natural and productive  phases of  the day

+ dematerialization

+ flow

+ overlapping events

= Space that does not disrupt the body

In this project, circulation plays the role of a catalyst for social interactions. Everything is placed along the paths and, as described in the case of the social condenser, the overlap of the different functions with circulation creates areas of public usage. The building is equipped with large corridors that serve both as a passing space, but also as public space with sitting elements, different functions and green.

The building is complex and you can risk easily transforming it into a labyrinth where people cannot find their own home. This is why we have a hierarchy of circulation:

-Vertical circulation: elevators are distributed every 20-30 m and spread the fluxes throughout every angle of the building.

-Vertical stairs: they are called vertical stairs because they are used just for internal circulation within a particular part of the building and have no other function.

– Horizontal (Diffused) stairs: are connective elements between two different levels of the building, but that allow a smoother spread of the fluxes and a better connection and communication between different parts. These spaces are transformed into public plazas and are distributed along the building in a way to create a flowing space that connects every part.

One will have different options to reach the destination, avoiding this way confusion, perplexity and disorientation in movement.

On the other side if we refer to the existing buildings and the restoration process, we intervene partially to each of them, with different strategies. In the typology of the dormitories where the stairs are the central hub, we add emergency stairs on the lateral areas, such a way we offer higher quality in terms of regulations and access. One important example and interesting typology is the one where we change almost all the access diagram. The dormitories that have a linear corridor in the central part we change them into a circular type of access. This change first of all consists on the utilization of the previous corridor as a space where a small kitchen and toilet can be included, and both rooms from each side can have the extra function inside. Though to bring access to this new typology, we add a circular balcony-corridor, which in itself is as well a new façade for the dormitory.

Access hubs do relate as well with the location of the new added functions. Mainly the staircases are located within the dormitory area and the facilities area. This composition offers direct access for both utilizers of the space. In a more complex and intervened dormitory typology we have the maximum of three access points from which one student can access to the rooms and to the studying and recreation area.

Facades

Façade vary from one building to the other, as long as the existing typologies are different. But still besides this variation we aim to generalize the architectural language throughout the approach of a more contemporary minimal approach. We propose as a first step the restoration of the existing facades and the utilization of monochromatic colors from white ones to soft light grays. On the other hand for the part where we intervene with the addition of new functions and the construction of a whole new structure, we develop the logic of having a lot of glass modules, and movable brie-solei that make the façade changeable and transparent. The variation of these modules and the intelligent utilization of this strategy will give a new identity to the whole site.

For our proposal of new development, having a building that works as a mini-city, the best choice was to use different patterns for the facades, in order to differentiate the complex parts of the building. This way, orientation throughout the building is made a lot easier. In the inner parts of the courtyards, colors are used to create different identities of the mini blocks, just how neighborhoods work in real scale cities. Transparency is used as a tool to create different configurations of the façade: somewhere we can find totally transparent openings, in other parts this openings become more opaque. The presence of the net (perforated material) can be found again in the new typology. The net has both functions as brie-solei in some parts, but it is also used to create a gradient of intimacy in the relation indoor-outdoor.

Challenges

How to increase the quality of life for the students?

How to increase the capacity for accommodation?

How to define a strategy for efficiency in communication, comfort and usability?

How to redevelop the existing dormitories?

How to create a city within a city?

How to enrich the potential of the whole campus?

CONCEPT

On achieving all the necessary requirements to reach our aim on realizing a hybridization of the Student’s City, we applied an acupunctural intervention. We collected all the necessary functions and programs that were missing inside the city and in the surroundings, and spread them as small interventions in the existing buildings. The strategy of having a city for the students, but not only, was a dare idea to introduce a new type of dormitory, where flexibility is the key concept. We implement various possibilities in terms of spatial utilization of the space and maximum usability. We experiment by creating a new hybrid neighborhood, where portions of the buildings create a whole, complement one another and function together. The inclusion of the outdoor in the indoor is as well an important element, from which we get more relaxing and recreating spaces.

The implementation

The first phase is the most urgent one, the reconstruction of the existing buildings. The reconstruction will include the addition of the Add-ons and the restoration of the existing dormitories. Even this phase in itself can be divided in sub-steps, which may include the intervention into different blocks of dormitories in different periods of time.

The second phase would be the intervention into the infrastructure of the Student’s City. The construction of the new plaza and the addition of the new artistic center and sport area would be the main elements of the phase.

The third phase would be the construction of the new development area. The whole block may be developed in the same time together, as long as the site location it is actually not used.

The forth phase would be the addition of the new dormitories in the areas in-between the old dormitories. This phase will include as well the urban definition of the surroundings.

This fifth phase will include the new development of the northern part of Student’s City. It will be dedicated to the construction of three new other hybrid dormitories and the development of a new artistic area, mediatheque, recreation centers, expo center that will elaborate in relation to the central library and art center.

[1] Jacobs Jane, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Modern Library (1961) pg.428-448

[2] Hillier Ben, Space is a machine

[3] Christian  Schittich, The Challenge of High-Density Housing, Bern, 2000

[4] Christian  Schittich   “The Challenge of High-Density Housing”

[5]Schneider Tatjana, Flexible housing: opportunities and limits

[7] Jan Gehl , Cities for People

soupreme court and school of magistrate

TEAM COMPOSITION
International Team
ALN | ARCHITEKTURBÜROLEINHÄUPL + NEUBER GMBH
Markus Neuber architect& civil engineering
Paul Rapp civil engineering &cost estimator
Katharina Riedl andscape architect
Valentina Damian architect& urban designer
Klaus Köstler architect& urban designer
Peter Naumburg architect & Fire protection planner
Petrit Pasha architect& urban designerStefano Baldon architect& urban designer
Stefania Di Pisa architect& energy consultant
Local Team
STUDIOARCH4
Gjergji Dushniku architect& urban designer
Klaudjo Cari architect& urban designer
Rezart Struga architect& urban designer
Lorin Cekrezi architect& urban designer
Arnisa Kryeziu architect& heritage specialist
Renis Batalli architect& urban designer
Felissia Veliu architect& urban designer
Samaela Lala architect& urban designer

 

INTRODUCTION

Among public buildings, courthouse facilities represent a unique and interesting building type: on one hand, for a large portion of the society they present a point of contact with the government, especially the judicial system, and as such, in the eyes of the public, courthouse facilities have a great symbolic value where they represents justice, fairness, and equality among members of the society, which means that the architecture and design of courthouse buildings is charged with meaning and symbolic values.
Accordingly, courthouse buildings have varying architectural styles depending on the subjective interpretation of the designer/s of the aesthetics associated with the values mentioned above as well as the aesthetics of the community for which the courthouse is being designed for and the judicial staff that is involved in the design process.
On the other hand, courthouses facilities adhere to a strong and explicit functional program that maintains certain relations and rules; typically conceived and designed as “sorting machines”, courthouses exhibit very clear and distinct patterns of circulation as well as clearly defined functional zones and spaces associated with these circulation networks.
Thus, courthouse facilities are “strong program” buildings i.e. “buildings where most of what happens is specified by explicit or tacit rules, and built into the spatial structure of the building.” (Hillier, Hanson & Peponis, 1984, p. 69). Furthermore, Hillier (1996) noted that buildings of a culturally defined functional type e.g. courthouses in specific time and space tend to have common spatial properties in the way different functions are spatialized.
Accordingly, it can be argued that despite the fact courthouse facilities vary to a great extent in their size, complexity, form and configuration, and architectural style, that underlying the designs of many contemporary courthouse facilities, there are well formulated functional1 structures and patterns that have a formal configuration especially in the design of courtroom floors that are shared among a population of courthouses, and that there is a finite set of these functional structures/patterns that underlie the design of many courtroom floor in courthouse buildings.

WHAT IS THE SUPREME COURT? HISTORICAL BACKGRUOND
The Supreme Court, based in Tirana, is the highest judicial authority in the Republic of Albania. Its main mission is to examine the request of the parties, the decisions of the courts of lower instances. It is important in the design of the building to understand how the Supreme Court is organized and which are its functions. The Supreme Court is represented by its chairman , who is assisted by counselors and support staff.
The Supreme Court is held in two Colleges (criminal and civil), who try appeals for judicial matters according to the rules laid down in the Code of Civil Procedure and the Code of Criminal Procedure. Besides trial Colleges (criminal and civil), the Supreme Court judges are part of the United Colleges, which means that the panel of judges composed of all judges of both Chambers. Judges of the High Court are supported by their legal aid. They can have up to two such, who select themselves among lawyers who meet the legal requirements to be named a judge of the Court of First Instance or the Court of Appeal.

THEORITICAL APPROACH
Access, transparency, exposure, clarity of organization, lighting, and inclusion are
six different ways, which have been used by Architects in creating new courts.
Design strategies related to public entry point and the facade can be observed in comparison
with other strategies range. More specifically, articulation entry, entry-glance, and the
creation of inviting entry, along with ensuring transparency inside-out, are the most frequently
used strategies.
Other groupings include internal strategies (organizational clarity, illumination and inclusion as transparency), and external strategies (exposure, transparency). Interaction strategies also need to be defined and well-developed. For example, discussions on the articulation of entry are very detailed and specific. There are many references to a central atrium space or functional separation serving as agents of the organization.
The same can be said about the lighting and in a lesser extent for inclusion.
Overall, cooperation strategies should be defined and well-developed compared with the
strategies of internal or external. More specifically, all three interpretations of transparency and entry strategies related to design (articulation of entry, the entry visible and inviting entrance) seems to be in the details.
Reducing the impact of imposing security at ports of entry is probably easier.
Safety affects the provision of numerous traffic. The design of the court building is in the
design flow, where public employee’s roads are allocated for security reasons. Design of
multiple rotations to the public in such a scenario probably proves to be a very challenging
task.
Cof public officials / social and celebrations in a security situation could prove to
be a major area of conflict. Only an internal strategy that seems to have less conflict, is
in the field of transparency as lighting. So it appears that some strategies that are more
developed and detailed, are where designers experience a relatively conflict-free environment
decision. Less implemented strategy should be those who experience conflict
with security or economic considerations. In contemporary architecture, one will witness a
growing focus on cooperation strategies,
and in a lesser extent in the interior and external strategies to the courthouse.
Design of access points, inviting the public, extended the area with glass facade and roofs, will probably constitute the main point of departure from the designs of the previous courthouses.
Due to social, political, economic and technological factors , public areas has been changing. Public and governmental buildings are going through changes, to maintain the level of interaction of the elected government of a democratic society. Opening a relatively new construct, should represent the great momentum that difference.
Connectivity between spaces is a fundamental property of Court buildings and
thus plays a key role in functionality and working properly the court system. We draw a distinction between visual connections, and paths that connect the physical movement of persons. Visual connections are necessary for orientation, and for creating a coherent picture of a building setting. Nevertheless, because they do not always coincide with paths and roads. The interdependence between visual connections and paths is highly complex, and will be treated in building with unity.
Supreme Court hast to work properly between Public and semi-Public space, the itself
cases and the story behind the idea of justice has to be open and clear in front of society
– the border between the inside and outside has to be invisible. Same rules have to
be implemented also for interior spaces in order to have proper connectivity and smooth
movement.

TYPOLOGIES STUDY

In the case of many institutional buildings, such as courts, program and functional requirements represent the basic elements that will influence the spatial layout of the building and in its final form. Thus, a way to study the courts is to identify functional structures in judicial floors, which will affect the shape and layout of the court through the development of an analytical typology.
The purpose of the analysis is to identify these functional structures that underlie the contemporary design in many courts, and their spatial implications and, through this, to derive conclusions about the similarities and commonalities between them, and to place them as functional prototypes.
This research is based on functional structures, based on which it is concluded that should be analyzed two main floors prototypes court type. These can be identified by their geometric configuration, central and linear. This based on the functional structures that are found.
The purpose of the analytical typology is not to reproduce existing buildings, but to identify the key components or elements of buildings, and describe these together in an overall composition. Typology in the case of this research is based on practical and functional considerations and not in a formal, although they are closely related.
In order to approach the functioning of the court more, we should understand it as organized
functional system. This understanding is best done through charts and diagrams, which explicitly present the court functions and their relationships. After analyzing the different floors plans, they can be grouped into two main first prototypes by their configuration. The essential difference between these two prototypes depends on the location of public space, ie. whether it is centralized between courtrooms and accessed from both sides, or if it is located on the outskirts of configuration and access to courtrooms are only one side of the public space.

A. Central typologies
In this prototype, the courtroom floor has a central public space in courtrooms on either side of the central space and limited areas, or private, in the suburbs. In this prototype, public circulation is concentrated in the center of a rectangular shape. Four courtrooms
are located in the public area. Private or restricted circulation of linking different parts of the court limited: suites of judges, jury deliberation, support the court and the courtroom, along with limited vertical circulation.
B. Linear typologies
In this configuration, public space is linear and is found on one side of the configuration, and courtrooms determine its internal sides. It takes the form of a linear corridor / connector courtroom, deciding between public area and restricted area. In this prototype, the movement takes a linear model in both public and restricted areas.

In the case of criminal courtrooms, three separate and distinct entry points should be provided;
a single public entry point from the public zone, a restricted or private entry point for the judicial
officers, court personnel through one or two entry points from the restricted circulation system, and
a secured entry point for defendants in custody from the secure circulation system. Usually a wooden
railing in a manner that controls movement of the public separates the spectator area and
the litigation area.
According to the guidelines, these functions i.e. chambers, support staff workstations, reception
area, research attorney offices and conference rooms should be clustered or grouped together
along with their services for the better functional and technical reasons. In some cases, all these
functions may be in a single room, in others, they may be clustered on the same floor or on
separate floors- shortcomings of such clustering may require a small robbing area and a
conference room adjacent to each courtroom on courtroom floors, and in some other ones some
functions may not be provided at all.

CONCEPT

– Restoring the historical layer
– Different private / public layers
– Connection court / magistrate school
– Sustainability / sensibility towards nature
Restoring the historical layer
A very important part of our vision consist in preserving the historical layer of the excising
structure, restoring it where it is needed . The intervention will happen just in the interior
part of the building with different ways of organizing the existing space, accommodating
the new layout of the juridical administration.
Different private / public layers
One of the approaches consists in the separation and the connection of public and private, allowing the public to penetrate into the building (the principle of transparency and openness for the citizens), but also giving to the administration and to the school the needed privacy. The structure is divided into private (administration, offices, archives), interface (courtrooms) and public. Part of the public space are the open parks (greenery), waiting areas, canteens etc. The access and the movement is organized in order to provide this division of private/
public, achieving also the required security of the judges/defendants.

Connection court / magistrate school
The magistrate school is a new addition near the Supreme Court and its functions are
connected with the court, functioning as cooperating structures. The judges of the supreme court will provide their expertise, their knowledge and help for the new students of the magistrate school, meanwhile the new judges will help and work as assistance for the collegiums of judges. That’s why the two functions are positioned near each other and are connected. Also, the juridical administration can use the functions (canteen, library, auditorium) of the magistrate school.
Sustainability / sensibility towards nature
We are very sensitive towards nature and want to preserve the green elements of the area. The existing structure and park area are preserved, and the new building will be implemented semi-underground. The upper part of the new courtrooms will be covered in trees and greenery , allowing the light to enter the building, but having a low impact in nature. The light will enter through the patios, and the courtrooms will have artificial light and ventilation. This semi-underground structure is possible using the inclination of the terrain.

Supreme court administation
The existing building will be restored and all the administrative functions, juridical body offices, head of the supreme court,etc will be accomodated into this building.
Two upper floors will serve as offices for the juridical body, allowing them more privacy from the public eye.
The groung floor will accomodate the more public functions such as reception, library, waiting areas etc.
Meanwhile the undergroung floor will serve for the archive, security sector, etc, bur also as a connection for the administrative building with the new court rooms.
The building is a second category monument, so we will preserve the ouside building, bur there will be changes in the inside to distribute all the functions
Magistrate school
It was impossible to accomodate all the required functions in the existing building, so we are adding an addition , that will serve as a more open and public building with conference rooms, canteen, library etc/
The existig building will serve as a space for the students, with classes, workshop rooms, study rooms etc. The two building are connected with brigdes with each other.
In order to give more importance to the monumental building, also considering the fact that the building is in the middle of the park, we wanted to “hide” the new construction, so we are creating this iillusion with the facade: glass facade that is reflecting the surroundings.
Court rooms
According to the requirements, we are adding four different types of court rooms: civil, penal, administrative united college
The penal court room requires high level of security, so we provided every necessary element such as separate entrances, high control, isolation rooms etc.
The distribution of the entrances/fluxes is in such way that the administration/judges will never have direct contact with the public or the criminals.
We decided to build the court rooms underground, being in such way less invasive in the surrounding nature, but providing very nice waiting areas for the public.
Light is a very important element, allowing natural lighting inside the courts and giving the impression of something very monumental/ intimidating, the feeling that you have to create inside a court room

The project can be seen as three different elements that work together:
1. The reconstruction of the existing building – Accomodating the administrative / jurors functions
2. The reconstruction / building of the extension in the magistrate school
3. The construction of the court rooms as undergroung spaces

THE VILLA OF MR. X

BEFORE AND AFTER

THE VILLA OF MR. X

Villa 31 is an unassuming, if somewhat large modern residence built in the late seventies with an ample garden in a quiet but dense residential district in Tirana. The interiors of the house are well equipped and extensively furnished. The interior is filled with hand-crafted built-in clos­ets, imported Austrian furniture, Italian designed bathrooms and kitchens, an elevator, a decora­tive spiral staircase, a small swimming pool, and large picture windows throughout. Villa 31 was also provided with ac­cess to hardened underground bunkers from the basement.

Construction documents prepared by the architects for this new resi­dence drawn up in the early sev­enties refer to the original project with the single alphabetical letter “x.” This structure was specifi­cally designed for Enver Hoxha and his family. “x” also represents the mark of censorship, a fitting symbol for what would be­come Hoxha’s difficult historical legacy: Hoxha’s sweeping political and ideological reforms were largely responsible for pushing the nation into deep economic and cultural isolation. Hoxha’s private family home reflected his public char­ismatic posing a difficult challenge for those concerned with opening the dictator’s residen­tial quarters to the public today. How—after de­cades during which Villa 31 has been closed to the public—does one interpret and put on dis­play the intimate interiors deeply imprinted by Hoxha’s domestic body politic?

Left as is, or with little modification, Hoxha’s house would certainly risk becom­ing a sort of latter day mausoleum to the man and his dictatorship. Nor would the sensitive preservation of the house in the name of Hoxha’s victims contribute much to the edu­cation of today’s Albanians and their children. After all, there are many sites across the nation where curi­ous nationals, foreign tourists and concerned educators can see first-hand the traumatic environments where generations of Albanians were locked up, tortured and dispensed in whatever manner Hox­ha, as supreme leader, saw fit. There is also the great risk the house would appear as if its origi­nal inhabitant lived inured to the outside world in an island of tranquility, untouched by world around him.

Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist who is no stranger to his own government’s repressive politics, chal­lenges through his art the highly undemocratic practices of a state with little concern for hu­man rights. Ai Weiwei’s frequent confrontations with Chinese authority has led the artist to find alternative forms of protest through the use of veiled metaphors, expressing political dissent through physical action, critically reevaluating historical artifacts, and questioning the re­ception of contemporary material culture in Chinese society. “Artists are not in a position to decide the conditions imposed upon them,” noted Ai Weiwei, “…but they can make statements about those con­ditions.” Ai Weiwei understands clearly the necessity to confront the demons of the past and pres­ent by working on the metamorphosis of objects and their potential for political reification.

Earlier examples of works by artist activists like Hans Haacke’s “Germania,” made specifically in consideration of the German Pavilion at the 1993 Art Biennale in Venice have set strong prece­dents for physically intervening on architecture where historical events have left troubling traces of the past. Haacke’s calculated destruction of the Nazi led renovation of the pavilion, by tak­ing a jackhammer to the floor and leaving bro­ken stones paving blocks scattered across the floor in chaotic disarray, revealed longstanding layers of buried and ignored history.

Villa 31 has been a residential mi­crocosm frozen in time. Inaccessible then, and still inaccessible now, the house and its troubled history should find renewed purpose, by confront­ing past and present, former regime and nascent democracy. Hoxha’s house cannot be simply preserved, opened and displayed without ac­tively engaging each and every room, one by one. From the gardens to the bunkers, from the living rooms to the swimming pool, the house’s many spaces should be documented, questioned and debat­ed. Citizens and visitors alike should have the chance to be part of and witness to how symbols of power can be engaged, challenged, and re-imagined.

A forbidden zone and a villa for Mr. X

Brasini set a strict South-North axis, which seem to put forth the difference between the eastern part of the city, where the location is spontane­ous and more folk like, to the other part of the city in its South-West side. The influence that Ital­ian architecture had on the Albanian landscape will be enhanced in the period between the two world wars, especially with the projects realized by G. Bossios. The rational application of Italian architecture, with perpendicular axes and well defined plots, was easy accommodate in the ur­ban plan of Tirana in this part of the city. The values of this zone are formed through the needs for housing for the members of Italian military as well as civil servants.

During the dictatorship, this area was inhabited by the elite political leading class as well as their fami­lies. For the above reason it was called “ Bllok” (The Block). Resi­dential villas are characteristic to this part of town that was inhabited by political leader, such as the late dictator Enver Hoxha.

Due to the importance of its inhab­itants the block of villas was iso­lated from the rest of the city, where simple peo­ple leaved and the isolation can be seen in the physical distance as well as in the economical one. In the heart of The Block, there is Villa 31, the house of Mr.X. The axes to the Block area was restricted in three different levels of acces­sibility.

Several pathways were not open to the general public. Common people could get in and out of the restricted zone with an invitation from some­one living in The Block, while would be all the time under constant surveillance and would have to hand in their ID as well. These itineraries are divided in two accessibility levels. The one that used the family members of the political bureau and the other one was utilized only by the politi­cal leader. In Mr.X villa’s Enver Hoxha would use the front entrance while his family would use the other entrance, because the street in front of the villa was reserved only for the political leaders.

The villa in itself is divided in the three different stages. The first stage is the Eastern part and was built before World War II and it is not included in this study. The vil­la belonged to an Italian engineer, Berlotti and it is one of the few villas that has preserved the architecton­ic elements. It is a three store villa with basement as well. The entrance to the villa is preceded by a white marble staircase a white marble staircase and a portico that serves as a porch. The portico is formed by columns, formed with stone tiles, that go up until the roof. In the 1970s was build the new villa with a roof. Enver Hoxha decide to have his family in the villa as well. Thus, the villa was expanded with various apartments dedicat­ed to its family and children, that is why the villa has multiple bedrooms or kitchens.

The Villa as an open project

Our proposal is to transform Villa 31 during one year. The time that is necessary to physically transform the Villa will coincide with the time of the symbolical transforma­tion. At the end of this process the Villa will not be the same as before.

The program of the cultural activities consist of the trans­formations that will allow Villa 31 to become a public space for Tirana.

The intentions of this project is to test the possibilities of such a new and extraordinary cultural device, despite the difficulty in giving to the house of the ex-dictator an exact function and definition. For those reasons we did not want to set boundaries for the possible activities that the Villa could host. That is why Villa 31 will be a project rather than an institution.

Villa 31 will be a place where different humanistic disci­plines can find expression: literature, philosophy, history, religion, philology, visual arts and performative arts.

All those cultural activities that have been censored dur­ing the dictatorship will become the engine of the physi­cal transformation. Those transformations will represent an occasion for art expression. The sum of events will slowly lead to a new condition of the building.

The first action consist of showing to the Albanians the interior and its mystery. Nowadays Villa 31 is an inacces­sible place, with no links to the city of Tirana and its citi­zens. The idea is to organize a big opening where artists are invited to celebrate this first collective occurrence.

The artists are invited to realize some interventions that will represent on one way the solutions for the house ac­cessibility, on the another way the aim of this event to be visible.

– a “derive urbaine” that will lead the citizens trough the streets of the district in the garden that hosts Villa 31;

– a ramp that will allow the accessibility to the house;

– a neon sign;

– an opening party;

OnceVilla31isdefinitelyopenandaccessible, it is neces­sary to activate functions that are capable to constantly attract the citizens inside the Villa. The idea is to trans­form all those activities that represented the private do­main of the dictator into public activities.

It will be possible to understand the private universe of the dictator by analyzing the program of the Villa. This universe will become a diversified system of activities for the citizens.

– a pool;

– a club;

– a cinema;

– a public library;

– an exhibition hall;

After this “wake-up moment” it will be possible to start a process of memories reactivation. Exhibitions and con­ferences on history of communism, about the dictator’s life and about the history of Villa 31 will be held.

– communism symposium;

– dictator’s life exhibition;

– Villa 31 exhibition;

– The dictatorial regime style in furniture and design;

The last phase of the project consist of the realization of those services that allows the permanent transformation of the Villa into a suitable space for art.

– coffee shop;

– bookshop;

Finally the garden will become part of the city to close the transformation process. The hypothesis is to open the garden permanently and to transform it into an equipped public space.

– fences transformation;

Additionally, our proposal consist of a small housing unit located in the garden, that can allow the artist to spend a period of time in the Villa. Through this intervention we transmit the idea of showing constantly what is happen­ing inside the Villa by showing the life of who is working there: the artist.

– artist’s housing unit;

 

Before and After

The project in 10 points

  1. Villa 31 opens its doors. It opens immediately. It is time to let its interiors become public, it is time to reveal its mystery.
  2. The first event that will be organized in Villa 31 is the opening itself. It will be a public event which will envolve the entire district as first manifestation of this “new presence” in the town.
  3. Every change or transformation realized in Villa 31 will be an art intervention. Those interventions are tem­porary or permanent: exhibitions, installations, book­shops, coffeeshops, performances and concerts.
  4. The program of the transformations Villa 31 will co­incide with the artistic activities.All the funds that are dedicated to cultural activities are the engine of the physical transformations of Villa 31 themselves.
  5. Villa 31 will not become a gallery, neither a museum or a foundation. It will not become a residence for art­ists, a cultural center or an history archive. Villa 31 will transform into a public space for Tirana.
  6. Villa 31 will become accessible, an open and demo­cratic space.New ramps will connect the levels, the ele­vators will follow legal standards to guarantee the mo­bility throughout the entire building. Some of the walls will be demolished to erase separations.
  7. Villa 31 will be preserved. Its presence and its mean­ing will not be erased. The spaces, the rooms, the furni­ture, the materials and colors will be the fundamental elements of the new reflexion.
  8. There will be a clandestine club in the ex-cinema at the underground level. Aquagym classes in the pool, chamber music in the dictator’s sleeping room, an el­egant bar in one of the living rooms.
  9. Every private space of the dictator’s house will be transformed by an artist into a public space for the visi­tors. Every transformation will be a public event.
  10. The garden of Villa 31 will become another place for activities. There will be events organized all summer long: concerts, picnics and installations. A small housing unit, a capsule, will be built to host the artists that are invited. Nobody will live in the dictator’s house. Villa 31 will never be a house anymore.

The Villa: structural features and new accessibilities

The Villa 31 consists of two building units that are built in two different time periods. The first part was built in the 1930s and the second part during 1970s, which later on during 1974 it was extended to fit the family of the late dictator. The villa is well maintained and the construction with all the elements is maintained. It can be clearly that the villa represents a building in a good condition.

The construction of the villa is mostly based on col­umns, bearing walls are placed were statically needed like stair halls etc. In this way the building has large openings, which were appropriate for modern archi­tecture at that time. Some traditional architectural ele­ments and local materials complete the concept of this part of the building.

Our team’s research of the building is based on an on-location visit as well as using existing plans and other data and a lot of other information, which were pro­vided by the local team. Reinforced concrete is the basic material of which the main construction of the building consists. In the basement the weight bearing walls are numerous and strongly visible, which explains the small openings and thickness of the walls. There were gath­ered a lot of material from different sights before plan­ning and proposing the intervention in the villa. From the on-location visit there were a lot to be learned, especially since the villa was “taboo” for the eye of the common people for a very long time.

Various approaches were considered, in order to pre­serve the heritage and the collective memory that this villa represents. The basement of the villa will not ex­perience any drastic remodeling. After consulting our construction engineers and experts for reinforcement systems we decided to not touch anything in the base­ment because it is clear that these walls are weight bearing walls. The different functions of the rooms will be chosen and decided between the spaces that al­ready exist. Hence the basement needs a renovation touch. From the investigation of the basement and how better to intervene, it is proposed the renovation of the floor and the renovation of the interior.

The ground floor of the villa is very different from the basement in how it is constructed. In the first floor there are no weight bearing walls. The weights is distributed though the columns. Thus the space is clear and open to make interventions.

The first and the second floor, which are the extended part of the villa, are much like the ground floor. The con­struction is the same, with large open space, and it is reinforced with concrete columns. The changes that are proposed in this floors are minimal. For instance, to de­molish separating walls in order to create a space that can be tailored according to the event. The changes in this space can be part of an event, rather than be the common working site where no one is present. Chang­ing the villa of the late dictator is more than a dull or routine implementation of an architecture project. The public will be as much involved in this change, for the symbolic value that this villa has.

 

 

Team Composition

Peter T. Lang

2A+P/A Associates
Gianfranco Bombaci
Matteo Costanzo
Alessandro Acciarino
Gaia Ascone
Eleonora Ghezzi
Silvia Sanchietti
Teresa Scheibova’
Nicola Secchi

ALN | ARCHITEKTURBÜRO LEINHÄUPL + NEUBER
Markus Neuber
Paul Rapp
Katharina Riedl
Valentina Damian
Klaus Köstler
Peter Naumburg
Petrit Pasha
Stefano Baldon
Stefania Di Pisa

STUDIOARCH4
Gjergji Dushniku
Lorin Cekrezi
Klaudjo Cari
Rezart Struga
Gledis Misja
Gerti Struga

pavilion_did/do/will/could/should

did/do/will/could/should

Proposal for Albanian Pavilion in 17 th Venice Biennale

We live in a networked society. We are part of different nested networks and dimensions of living together. These ties span from the intimate family level to friendship, colleagues, neighbors, citizenry etc.

The societal ties are translated both in urban planning and architecture by shaping the way we live together. The future of living together is about reshaping our social contract and to put it into the words of the curator, building a “new spatial contract” (Venice biennale curator Hamish Sarkis). These contracts go to the roots of the conceptualization of our societies and our way of living. Stuck between wicked problems of the past, divides of the present and the uncertainty of the future, architecture and urban planning need to think not only of new solutions but shaking the foundations of the current society.

What has Albania to offer on the topic? What are some of the main historic/ societal events that have shaped and are shaping the way the way of living in Albania? What can represent the Albanian answer to the curatorial theme?

Our history over the past 30 years shows the complexity of living and building social and spatial contracts. Tirana is one of the most dynamic cities in Europe, shaped by the energy of its citizens. It is a city of dichotomies, between stability and transition, power and weakness, west and east, chaos and order, crises and evolution, everyday struggles and lifetime solutions, formal decisions and informal actions. These dichotomies, represent the beauty of Tirana and are manifested everyday in different spatial situations and our way of living together.

It is exactly the collection of these dichotomies combined with our social networks expressed and manifested in our urban and architectural milieu that can give us insights on the foundations of a new spatial and social contract.

We see the pavilion as the city of Tirana, conceptualized of different cylinders representing our networks and way of living. In order to answer the question of how will we live together, we firstly need to understand some other fundamental questions, we need to look back and we need to look further, we need to speculate but we also need to be realistic.

Our CYLINDERs

The pavilion is conceptualized through Cylinders. The Pavilion space is conceptualized as the city of Tirana. The cylinders represent the built and the voids in the city. It is a representation of the porosity and the densification of our city.

A circle is a simple closed shape and all of the points in a plane are equal in distances around it. This gives us an infinite number of circulations around it. Transforming the circle into a cylinder, a basic shape in geometry, will allow us to transform our pavilion in a multitude of 3D objects by a greater depth of representation.

the footprint is inspired by Tiranas built and empty areas, which are represented by circles and the spaces in between. Walking the neighborhoods you can easily distinguish the irregularity and non-standard distribution of buildings, sometimes almost labyrinthic, giving to people an unexpected journey.

The position of the circles in the pavilion floor plan emulates this characteristic, enhancing the element of surprise and curiosity on the visitors experience.

the volume is made of cylinders created by extruding the footprint circles. They are simple and plain but irregular and variate in height. Tirana has gone through different building periods and styles, from an early 1900’s , to a 1970’s apartment building, to a 2000’s high-rise, all next to each other. The volumetric relation of the cylinders is a symbolic approach to the relation of these very different scales of built architecture.

the core of each cylinder is a separate reality: a lived period, a building phenomena, an idea, a transition and a hope for the future. These are all part of Tiranas reality, and only by answering the question How did/do/will/could/should we live together we can be true to it. While approaching the inside of the pavilion the visitor will start to understand that there is more to the white & rigid cylinders seen from the outside, while the inside is where they will learn the story.

The aim is to show the true identity of Tirana, what distinguishes us from other cities, what is exciting for visitors to see when they visit and what is the true story and events that impacted our society…

… while navigating between the curved white walls of the pavilion

searching for the next door and see where it will take you.

In a sense it will create different pavilions within a confined space demonstrating the networks and the multi-dimensional spatial contract of living together in different moments of time and space. Each cylinder within the pavilion will try to answer our main research questions:

How did we live together?

How do we live together?

How will we live together?

How could we live together?

How should we live together?

Living together is about understanding and respecting our past, thinking about the future and acting in the present.

Our Exhibition

The space is created through an itinerary that will exhibit the five questions in the city of Tirana, documenting its development, urban and social life alongside hypothesis of future visions and projects.

did – A brief history of the genesis of the city, with a focus on the living unit and the presence of shared spaces during the totalitarian system. The theme of the dwelling and the various design experiments of the functionalist architecture built during the regime will be represented through an interpretative model of a block of flats from the 70s. The focus of the intervention will be the single apartment as an interpreter of the private space and the staircase of the block as a symbol of a common environment for the inhabitants of the building. The staircase as an extra-room, a common room for all the generations.

do – A documentation of the impact of the new democratic system in society, building culture, urban planning and everyday life. How the need for space from an increased population created a spontaneous building activity and reality. This cylinder will be developed as vertical controlled chaos installation of the informal development in Albania. The cylinder will be composed of different printed and digital extension and informal building typologies which represent the current evolution of development in Tirana. The cylinder will also have a series of ladders which will allow to climb and view different aspects of the city, representing the struggles of nowadays

will – Projects and initiatives of the last few years, completed or under construction, that show the direction that the city is going to take. Focus on public squares but also buildings with social, cultural & institutional characteristics. These projects focus on public spaces (Skanderbeg Square), semi-public (Servete Maci School), semi-private and coliving (Destil) and community (100 villages project). The cylinder will be composed by Video projections, interviews with authors and interest groups, printed panels as well as lay down comfortable models representing a more neutral minimalistic design approach in the Albanian product interior design.

could – Utopic ideas of how to solve issues of public spaces and new concepts of how to live together, merging public and private space to explore the thin line between them. A provocation and idealistic scenario of a possible future city. The main keywords are Sci-fi, utopic, outstanding and mesmerizing.

should – A more down to earth idea of the future, focusing on large and small scale interventions by respecting and enhancing Tirana identity. This cylinder will offer a resolution and future vision based on urban planning theories, policies, regulations in trying to bring out the identity of Tirana. The cylinder will allow to move upwards to a green terrace. By taking the stairs the visitor will enter a journey into the future of the city of Tirana. In the terrace visitors will have the possibility to sit on the floor and walk barefoot by connecting to nature.

Besides the five main cylinders, we will also have two other spaces to support the exhibition. Firstly, there will be an info point, which will offer guidelines on how to access and visit the pavilion.

Meanwhile there will also be a ‘transition’ Cylinder: a physical transition of the physical space but also a transition to the resolution towards the ‘should’ cylinder. It will be composed by a walking bypass to the more rational side of the brain.

our research methodology

Our research methodology is focused in answering our five main research questions oriented on the way we did, do, will, should and could live together. It requires a great understanding of the past and present while thinking and abstracting of the future. So, our way methodology it will be based on:

Archive Study- this study will allow to answer the question of “How did we live together?”. Besides analyzing past projects, the methodology will also include semi-structured and video recorded interviews with citizens describing their experiences of the past.

Content Analysis of current projects and Trends in Tirana. This will be done through analysis of the projects, their success, interviews with the architects and the users.

Survey with citizens of Tirana. These surveys will support our workshops and the answers to the could/should questions. Parts of the interviews will be recorded and presented as part of the exhibition.

Workshops with students- these workshops will try to capture the ideas of the future architects of Albania. Based on the interviews with the citizens, we will ask a selected group of students to develop abstractions of the future. Convey the messages of the citizens of Tirana in architecture and urban planning.

To the core of our method is the collaboration with institutions such as the Municipality of Tirana, NTPA, NGO-s, Universities etc.

team:
curators:

Dea BUZA
Gjergji DUSHNIKU
Renis BATALLI

studio:

studioarch4

exhibitors:

Arba BAXHAKU
Iva TAVANXHIU
Klaudjo CARI
Ledio ALLKJA
Lorin CEKREZI
Rezart STRUGA
designer:

Era BUZA

THE HUB OF MEDITERRANEAN TASTE

CULTURE QUARTET COMPETITION

LEAGUE OF WRITERS

THE HUB OF MEDITERRANEAN TASTE.

Made in Albania

The idea of the project is to use the League of writers as a center for the promotion of the Albanian and Mediterranean wine & food culture inside the city of Tirana. The aim is to realize a structure capable to be an international point of reference about feeding culture, agriculture and sustainable development.

What happens inside the League?

The building will host different functions inside, some of these will be temporary,

others permanent:

– A bookshop on wine and food culture, both Albanian and Mediterranean, selling of professional and traditional tools for cooking, selling of biological and local products;

– A multifunctional hall capable to host meetings and debates about food and wine culture, about food production and sustainable agriculture;

– A school oriented on traditional food and cooking, with classrooms equipped to host courses and workshops;

– A cafè, which can work as a meeting space independent from the opening hours of the other activities;

– An administrative area to manage and organize all the different activities.

How it relates to the city of Tirana?

The new “Hub” is a public building that will offer services to the city. It will be accessible and open for daily activities, weekly meetings, or monthly events. Thanks to the presence of the courtyard, cafe on the ground floor, in the space of the portico, will also be a place of exchange and a daily meeting point. The new “Hub” will be for the city of Tirana a benchmark for the gastronomic culture, to promote it and for its spread.

Who use this building?

This space is open to all the citizens of Tirana interested to learn and develop a culture related to the world of taste and flavor. The Hub is open to professionals in this field who wants to participate to an extended net related to the excellence of food tradition in Albania and in the Mediterranean countries; to tourists who are curious to know and taste the local food culture and its specialties; to producers who want to spread their products and show their specific qualities; to people who want to learn cooking following local traditions or experimenting other kind of cuisine; to chefs who want to share their experiences and knowledge.

 

Prof. Arch. Peter T. Lang, Curator

2A+P/A Associates

Gianfranco Bombaci

Matteo Costanzo

Consuelo Nunez Ciuffa

Alessandro Acciarino

Gaia Ascone

Eleonora Ghezzi

Silvia Sanchietti

Teresa Scheibova’

Nicola Secchi

ALN | ARCHITEKTURBÜRO LEINHÄUPL + NEUBER

Markus Neuber

Paul Rapp

Katharina Riedl

Valentina Damian

Klaus Köstler

Peter Naumburg

Petrit Pasha

Stefano Baldon

Stefania Di Pisa

STUDIOARCH4

Gjergji Dushniku

Lorin Cekrezi

Klaudjo Cari

Rezart Struga

Gledis Misja

Gerti Struga