LOST ARCHITECTURE – [En]VISIONING NEW CITY SQUARES

INTRODUCTION

Tirana Architecture Week and the Albanian Ministry of Culture invite architects and architecture students up to 40 years old in an open ideas competition for the Pyramid Square of Tirana. Positioned in an emblematic location, formally a symbol of Communist Heritage in Albania this space in the present day has no future and identity, placed where most of the significant historical periods of the city overlap the organic origin from the autoritarian regime through 20 years of transition. A solution for a harmonious coexistence is yet to be found. This document describes the objectives, the terms and conditions of the competition, and describes the characteristics of the site. All submitted projects shall be reviewed by an international jury, composed by representatives of the Ministry of Culture and experienced professionals.The jury shall select five finalist projects.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS 

The competition is international, open and anonymous. All submitted projects should be concept design ideas for the Pyramid Square of Tirana, reconceptualizing the whole area around the site in terms of design and function.

PARTICIPANTS 

The competition is open to Albanian and International participants entering the competition individualy or in a group composed by maxium five members. Students, architects, engineers, and designers are invited to participate to this competition.
They are not allowed to take part members of the jury or are in relations with the competition organizers or members of the jury.

FEES 

Entrance fee is as follows: 25 euro per team

BACKROUND 

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Like many other eastern european countries, during the mid 19th century Albania passed through a authoritarian regime that lasted for almost 50 years. During this period the construction style was similar to the soviet constructivism buildings. In 1988 Albanian local architects were in charge of building the museum of the Chairman of the communist party which was later named after him: “Enver Hoxha” museum. The result is what we call today “The Pyramid”.

The building is raised on platforms and stairs which create a square that looks like a pedestal supporting the Pyramid. Around the square vegetation and trees made this area a pleasent space for people to use it as a public space. In 1992 the comunist period ended and this generated informality and chaotic spread of buildings in Albania. Also the meaning of the pyramid as a museum was lost and during the 90s it became the National Cultural Center, while the square in front of it started to be percieved as a public space used by the citizens of Tirana and it also became one of the main tourist attractions of the city.

The Pyramid currently has the status “Monument of Culture” but it is a politicized status. Its pyramidal shape creates the possibility to climb on its walls, and so has been done over the years with people of different ages climbing to the top and sliding on the marble tiles. The main function of the building after the communist period has been exhibition and fair center, while the square has often been ocupied by private inverstors for short periods of time and used for different activities.

In the begining of the years 2000 also a cafe and the studios of a local TV station were located inside the Pyramid. With the passing of time the space inside and outside were visibly lacking maintenence and the space started to be less frequented than in the first years of democracy. Many alternatives have been thought about its reuse in different ways. The building has passed through a process of reconstruction that never came to an end, and also an international competition was made in 2007 to transform it into a drama theatre and center of visual arts. None of the proposals was built.

In 2010 another competition was organized, but this time proposing the demolition of the Pyramid and the creation of the new parliament of Tirana. This act opened a public debate and many protests and petitions happened in front of the building. It was one of the first times since many years that the Pyramid was occupied by a great amount of people while the quality of the space kept deteriorating.

In the present the situation is still the same, the building and squareare not mainained, no function or change has been implemented and the area is used only as a transit space for people.

SITE

Untitled-1The total surface is 4000 m² while the building itself is 1900 m². It is located close to the center of the city and is bordered by the main boulevard “Deshmoret e Kombit” on the west, Lana river and the boulevard “Bajram Curri” on the north, the “Leke Dukagjini” street on the east and the Prime Minister’s office on the south. It is part of the complex of buildings of Tirana center along with the Ministries, the Tirana University etc.

The Pyramid’s position is strategic in terms of creation of a public and gathering space, since the two boulevards that surround it are two of the main axis that contain most of the pederstrian fluxes of the city. Also the proximity with areas like the city center, blloku or the artificial lake park makes it a place with great potential to become a social space encouraging interaction and different activities that can happen inside and outside the building.

BUILDING DESCRIPTION 

SITE 2The building has 5 levels:

The first (underground) at level -4.65m where the cinema, offices, the place where there used to be a cafe, toilets, corridors, services and technical rooms are located.

The second (ground floor) at level 0.00m. This area is accessed from the main entrance of the square and the travertine stairs in front of the Pyramid. This used to be the main hall where the fairs and exhibitions were organized.

On the third, forth and last floor levels +5.40m, +9.60m, +11.40m there are radial balkonies which go around the atrium and comunicates with the main hall of the building. The itineraries on these balconies are uninterrupted to be used as exhibition spaces.

Some of the main qualities of the building are it’s height and openness that give a sense of a continuous space and the manipulation of the direct and indirect light that guarantees the access of the right amount of light for exhibition or fair.

The square outside the Pyramid is a retangular figure, a combination of paths and vegetation aimed at creating an open space with clear visuals on the Pyramid. The radial axis of the building seem to guide the orientation of the paths horizontally and vertically, stairs of different dimensions raised from the ground level serve to reach the highest point, and create sitting places facing the city.

In the western part, facing the main boulevard, there are two water platforms with benches. While along the borders of the rectangle vegetation is cut by regular geometric paths, in front of the building there is an open square with stairs that lead to the front entrance.

In the eastern part, the back side of the Pyramid, there is a more natural approach, where the back ramp that accesses the building devides the space in two parks with organic paths which are more close to the human scale and facing a residential area of the city.

COMPETITION REQUIREMENTS

AIM
The main characteristic of Tirana’s city center is its monumentality so to represente the image of rebirth of the country. Administrative, institutional, cultural functions are concentrated along the boulevard. A pure modernist architecture is used to build the Pyramid, in order to function as Mausoleum of the Albanian Dictactor Enver Hoxha. After the hall of the communist party there have been many discussions about what the future of this monument should be: some wanted to change its function, some thought it should be demolished, some others decided that the monument should be preserved.The goal of this competition is to to provide a strategy for harmonizing all these layers of history into an actively functioning, attractive and distinctly contemporary space by re-envisioning the Pyramid Square as a part of an active system within the city.
The international competition for Pyramid Square is also part of the strategy of the Ministry of Culture to re-activate the ghost spaces of the Communist Past.

OBJECTIVES

Propose a concept design for the activation of the Pyramid Square by adding new functions. Participants should only present their conceptual solutions not technical ones.provide
access for pedestrians to the site and connect the area with the rest of the city establish spatial and logical links between the site and its context (via underground or adove ground structures, information design, paving patterns or other). Physical or programatic connection to a wider system in the city.

TIMELINE

01 JUNE 2014                      Competition announced/ Registration Begins

JUNE/AUGUST 2014          Questions and answers. The answers to the frequently asked  questions will be published on this web

15 SEPTEMBER 2014         Registration Deadline

26 SEPTEMBER 2014         Project submission deadline

03 october 2014                Final winner announced

COMPETION PACKAGE

Upon registering and payment of the registration fee, each participant/team will be able to download a package containing a CAD file of the site (indicating the actual site boundaries) and context photographs.

JURY/JUDGING CRITERIA

The jury will be in charge of establishing the keypoints that this project needs to address based on the site, brief, and guidelines, and evaluate each project accordingly. As part of the design process we recommend that each team takes the necessary time to and guidelines site as well as other case study projects that might relate to the brief in hand to determinate what aspects of the project are the most unique and therefore need to be addressed and successfully solved to achieve a good result.Remember that this is an ideas competition, an opportunity for experiment and explore the limits of architecture. Click here for the Members of the Jury

PRIZES

1st place      – 1.000 € [+publication in the A+P magazine] 2nd place    – 750 € [+publication in the A+P magazine] 3rd place     – 250 € [+publication in the A+P magazine]

Also two honorable mentions will be awarded for categories: innovations and sustainability.
Winning projects and honourable mentions will be published in a special issue of Forum A+P and will be displayed at the Tirana Architecture Week Exhibition.

Intelectual & Property Rights

Participants in the competition guarantee to Tirana Architecture Week the originality of their proposals and the grant Tirana Architecture Week unhindered exercise of the intellectual and property rights over them. Once submitted to Tirana Architecture Week the proposals will become freely available for online publication on www.tiranaarchitectureweek.com and other websites chosen by Tirana Architecture Week.

Competition Website 

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