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INTERNATIONAL LANDSCAPE DESIGN COMPETITION - In collaboration with Proap Studio and Arkimade Studio

Project team:

1. Arkimade 

2. Proap

3. Paolo Galantini (Consultant)  

Location: Tirana, Albania

Following the four years in which I was visiting professor at the Albanian University in Tirana, I was able to establish collaborative relationships with some local design studios, including the Arkimade studio.

In 2015, together with Arkimade and the Portuguese landscape studio Proap, I participated as a project consultant in the international landscape design competition for the recovery of the main avenue of Tirana, of which I was spokesperson in front of an international jury in the city. itself.

Text taken from the competition report, by Proap.

The great transformations that the city of Tirana has suffered in the last two decades have had particular consequences on urban conditions, with an enormous increase in population and consequently with the increase in means of circulation. The exodus from the countryside also made a significant impact on the life and organization of the city. This transformation is a dynamic that reflects the main aims of the competition: the way in which urban fabrics react to intense changes in short periods of time reflects their resilience and flexibility. The city of Tirana is an example of this.

The great plain in which the city has risen and grown over the centuries has allowed, once the decision to transform Tirana into the capital, to carry out ambitious and monumental large-scale urban interventions, of which the most important testimonies are the major roads and the squares with their surrounding buildings.

One of these axes is the Viale dei Martiri della Nazione, in which there are important buildings and for which it boasts an important institutional and symbolic role in the life of the city. This importance is also reflected in the way the road network relates to the boulevard and the importance of its two major gravitational poles: Skënderbej Square and Mother Teresa Square. This axis represents the backbone of Tirana and is also part of its main green structure, which thanks to the existence of a large corridor of trees completes the connection between the San Procopio Park and the city center.

The Avenue of the Martyrs of the Nation becomes the main theme for the morphological composition of the heart of Tirana and, in itself, a structural element of enormous strength. The design proposal recognizes this prerogative that it wants to strengthen, both for its role as a green superstructure and for the role it plays in the urban fabric, proposing to create a strong point, in urban terms, with a simple gesture. The new design for the Viale does not consist only in the embellishment and renewal of an ancient large street, but above all in the affirmation of a global strategy for the public spaces of the city center.

The strategy is mainly based on the superimposition of a geometric matrix on the urban fabric, which considers the elements that make up the urban public space as part of a single global vocabulary, thus combining the fragments of open public space that have heterogeneous characteristics and different levels of interaction. urban.

This new Park is unified by two forces that work together at different levels: the matrix, with its geometric role, and the theme faith, proposed as an intellectual and conceptual script that goes beyond the spatial boundaries of the current condition of fragmented empty spaces at the inside the intervention area, reinterpreting them as an existing network.

The use of spirituality as a leitmotif for the creation of a large urban park is addressed through the use of light and the creation of spaces and paths, all governed by an under-layer matrix, most of the time only suggested and without bothering rigid hierarchies and conventions of use and spatial form.

The matrix is the element from which the new vocabulary for the city emerges. Its simple rule manifests itself with different intensities and intentions depending on the urban function and context. The maximum formalization peak reaches it on the central axis where there is a greater need for clarity and rigidity in the perception of urban space, that is, different lines to highlight different functions.

Moving away from the central spine of the axis, the matrix begins to spread outwards, becoming more of a suggestion than a formal condition: here you can meet secondary levels of geometry, always subordinate to the main unit, where different texture compositions are possible, materials and colors in response to different functions, uses and conditions. An example of versatility can be found in the transversal profile of the Viale, where the manipulation of the materials gives the different aisles a deliberately ambiguous character to facilitate the exchange of uses when necessary.

This matrix is not only the structural thread that unifies the space, but also supports the theme of spirituality, which conceptually unites the different spaces of the park. When the thread thins and relates to the park's green spaces, large “land art” structures are created. These structures, created mainly through topographical manipulation, create areas inside the park where you have the feeling of being outside the city confusion, where you try to cancel the urban profile from the users perspective, leaving them only the perception of the sky. . Through these spatial manipulations we want to give the users of the park the opportunity to experience moments of spiritual meditation and concentration while being inside the city center.

The light associated with the matrix gives a new meaning to the Park, relating it to spirituality. The illuminated bodies, sometimes linear and sometimes punctual, where the rarefaction of the matrix has reached its maximum expression, give a metaphorical character to the proposal. Seen from above, the park appears as a multitude of pixels and lines of light that unify all spaces in a conceptual way. Light, which has always been associated with illumination and truth since the beginning of time, plays an important role in the park's ability to relate the city to spirituality.

Faith is therefore perceived not as part of a particular religious belief system, but as a human spiritual condition.

The Park of Faith is considered in the project proposal as an opportunity within the city and its numerous temples and religious buildings, to create spiritual spaces not specifically belonging to one or the other religion, but to the spiritual condition of the "Man"

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