Initial results of the workshop. Photo: Rikkert Paauw
Lecture/Debat/symposium | External location - | 27/09/12-04/10/12
Albania’s capital has changed dramatically over the last 25 years. With the transformation from a socialist to a market economy, private property became a prime concern and public values declined. How can the public realm be reclaimed through architecture? Can private waste and leftovers – both mental and physical – provide a starting point and be turned into a public good? In collaboration with the Tirana Architecture Week, the NAI organised a Debate on Tour on 4 October 2012 in Tirana, Albania.
Tirana’s physical transformation
The toppling of the Albanian communist regime unleashed powers beyond the control of consecutive governments under the influence of the so-called free-market paradigm. After its feverish uncontrolled growth in the 1990s, the municipality tried to regain public control with several beautification campaigns in the 2000s. Streets, parks and riverfronts were cleared of illegal kiosks and thousands of trees were planted.
(Re)appropriation of the city
The premise of the Tirana Architecture Week (TAW) is that the period of physical transformation has come to a close and a mental transformation needs to follow. A new sense of belonging, community and ownership will help to re-appropriate the public realm. How can public space be reclaimed through architectural events?
Private waste for public good
The starting point is provided by what one finds in abundance in every city: private waste. Taken physically as well as mentally, the leftovers of private households will be reworked by students and inhabitants into valuable contributions to public space. Two complementary interventions will explore the potential of waste: a workshop will take on physical leftovers and a series of debates on a bus tour will activate the excess mental capacity of Tirana’s inhabitants.
Në Lagje or 'In the 'Hood' is the title of a workshop that washeld in two centrally located but somewhat isolated neighbourhoods. In collaboration with the local population, twenty students will transformed inhabitants' waste into architectural structures and corresponding activities in the public space. The aim was to create a social impact through these physical and programmatic interventions.
Debate on bus tour in the Selita neighbourhood. Photo: Eranda Janku
Debate on bus tour
Reclaiming public space starts with claiming mental space. What better place to do so than while moving through Tirana’s neighbourhoods on a special bus tour? Starting at the Në Lagje workshop in the First of May neighbourhood, moving along the residence of the American ambassador and ending at an urban wasteland in the Selita neighbourhood, children, students, inhabitants and an American policeman contributed by sharing their frustrations and desires. Such an overwhelming passion for public space emerged, that various participants spontaneously pledged future collaboration to improve the areas visited.
Dutch public space under pressure
Famous for its great tradition of formal spatial planning, over the last two decades Dutch governments have been loosening their tight grip on spatial developments. The subsequent commercialisation of space during economic booms as well as the high vacancy levels of buildings in the current economic slowdown have put the public space under pressure. What can be learnt from Albanian approaches for the re-appropriation of public space in the Netherlands?
Mentors and host
End of the debate on bus tour in the Selita neighbourhood. Photo: Eranda Janku
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