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.
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.
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.
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