Project Architect : Grimshaw Architects
Grimshaw Architects is one of two finalists selected in a competition for the master plan of central Tirana, Albania. The competition brief called for a comprehensive strategy that built upon the international identity of the city – particularly its waterways and the major boulevard running between them. It also called for an integration of transportation links – a city-wide transformation to streamline the infrastructure and bring vitality into the experience of the city.
The desires for the city and the results of the proposal are geared toward building upon the community and lifestyle of Albania. The climate is perfect for outdoor activities, so the first strategy that Grimshaw touched upon was to make the experience of the city on the level of landscape and its waterways. The entry proposes a riverwalk that takes advantage of geography of Tirana. It also proposes a vast system of urban living rooms that latch onto the central boulevard and spiral out, pixelating the city with gardens and parks.
The strategy then includes a formalization of the city’s street systems, creating a hierarchy that works within the scale of the neighborhoods that are also introduced in the proposal. The neighborhoods are dotted with nodes of program that provides a social infrastructure for the growth and sustainability of each. Neighborhoods are defined by the incorporation of nature into the city streets along with the distinguishing features of the architecture. The irregularity and differentiation of the buildings suggest that Grimshaw has considered how the city would be experienced visually and how points of interest will define the various neighborhoods. The strategy is also incorporating the existing informal settlements and plugging them into the vision of the city.
Sustainable transportation is also an asset to the design, bringing economic growth with high quality transportation options. The competition site covers only part of Tirana with the focus being placed on reconnecting it to the rest of the city. The competition is now entering its final stage of consultation and will include a public vote and feedback from the citizens of Tirana.