Competition Name: [re]FUNCTIONING OF “THE CULTURE QUARTET”
Atelier Albania, mandated by the Office of the Prime Minister and Ministry of Culture announces an international curator competition for the revitalization and reuse of “The Culture Quartet” that is made of 4 distinguished buildings, part of the Albanian architecture and historic heritage, all located in the capital city of Tirana.
We are aiming at giving a chance to creating a network of spaces and programs dedicated to culture production and consumption in Tirana, a chance to making and narrating history, a chance to the past and future to melt into present, to a lot of future possibilities, as well as possible futures to find their space of expression in the art scene of Tirana. Revitalization, re-use or [re]functioning of “The Culture Quartet” is a call that needs responses.
The Palace of Brigades situated nearby the Tirana Lake Park represents a unique Albanian chateau outlined in a rich historical background and can be considered as the most sensitive architectural site setting of the cultural quartet.
The edifice is located in the southern and south-eastern part of Tirana, once a vast natural area which nowadays turned to be swallowed by urban growth. The longevity of the program of the Palace of Brigade, initially designed to serve as the official residence of the Albanian Royal family, was relatively short. In 1937 the task of designing the Royal Palace was initially assigned to Giuglio Berté, engineer of the court of King Zogu I. During 1939-1942 it was Gherardo Bosio who completed the design of the project and envisioned a villa-type residence of Rationalist Style, which distinguishes it amongst other European Royal Palaces. Surrounded by large and unique gardens, the palace owns an assemblage of artistic interventions, mainly consisting of sculptures and bas-reliefs designed by the Italian Sculptor of the ‘40s, Antonio Maraini; interior furnishing by Gherardo Bosio and Gio Ponti; mosaics of Aldo Rossi and landscape design of the parks by Pietro Porchinai.
Preserving its historical traits shall be introduced by putting an end to its deterioration, through restoration and conservation of highly valuable contents of the palace, at every three levels it consists of: the exterior, the authentic interior and the grandeur garden it is surrounded by.
The intact building, offers original spaces adorned with bespoke unique furniture, a genuine interior that invites generously a wide public in the ground floor, but becomes gradually selective as going up to more intimate spaces; and so does its ability to host invitees.
The grandeur of the park pervaded from narrow paths, designed under different periods and the unique plants, lacks the infrastructural facilities to make the park usable for multiple activities independent from the palace.
The compelling need for preservation, economical self-efficiency and access to the public, defines this site as appropriate to accommodate programs that would enable the public involvement under GOA guidelines that do not affect architectural substances and can instead promote moderate commercial conversions in tune with the vulnerability of the place.
– What might be the programs that transform the palace into a focal touristic and historic point of Tirana?
– How the outdoor gardens can be integrated and intertwined with the indoor programmatic use?
– How the vision of preserving and conserving the historical line meets the urge of revitalizing and re-programming its function?
– How the proposal strategy comes up with a self-efficient internal management and its interaction with other corporations, both governmental and private sector?
The National Historical Museum is an iconic symbol of city center, the first introduction of Albania to foreign visitors (perhaps).
The design of the National Historical Museum, the cradle of Albanian history, was assigned to a group of architects, composed of Enver Faja, Nina Shehu, Petraq Kolevica and Sokrat Mosko. The museum, a 20-meter-high volume of 90×70 meters, was conceived as a complex of three units: the Pre-war Period, the National-Liberation War Period and the Building of Socialism. The museum was firstly opened for the public in October 28, 1981. The building is distinguished for its compact volume, developed in a square plan. The architecture is designed according to the principles of socialism regime, “the windowless façade”. The spaces of the museum are organized around a central courtyard, which stays hidden from the main facades. This introverted space suggests a hermetic expression of the building. The extruded rectangular volume, place on top of the main entrance, displays a large mosaic entitled “The Albanians”, showing the Albanian labor force at work. Today, the museum is one of the most important landmarks of the city. Nowadays, it houses a series of pavilions, covering different historical periods of Albania: Antiquity, Medieval, National Rebirth, Iconography, Culture of Albania, Albanian Renaissance of WWII and Communist regime.
The interior of the object accommodates a dysfunctional exhibition, with vast unused spaces that yet offer a great adaptability for interior transformations. The entire structure has a great potential to be re-used, especially the ground floor which offers a common ground for temporary exhibitions. The museum needs a second thought in terms of programmatic re-use and curatorial display of the existing exhibitions; and how the interior and exterior spaces may be arranged in such way to accommodate prospective permanent and temporary exhibitions, as well as other functions. It should preserve two historical lines, within the renovation realm: the collection of the antiquity and the medieval one; and the genuine line of the ‘Albanian’ through language and cohabitation. It is the aim to generate different degrees of intensity that new exhibition concepts, pavilions and their intertwining with the current conditions, which may come together to bring a new approach towards narrative. The exercise is how to narrate a story out of history; how to display it in an eclectic way that reflects the “now” through the “past”.
– What is the curatorial program that narrates the spaces and creates an idea for an exhibition or program into a full proposal?
– How the development program will offer a new concept and logistic that surpasses the challenges of organizing exhibitions, public programs and other curatorial models?
– How the proposal fits into the program new spaces for temporary exhibitions, library, film projection etc.?
The house of the communist dictator Enver Hoxha is located in the so called “Block” area of Tirana, once the residence area, mainly consisting of villa-type residential blocks of the ruler and members of the communist party. It was a hermetic and “ruling elite” district, where the community was prohibited to trespass. The project preserving the rationalist style characterized by socialist brutalism, pure shape, and concrete structure covered by white tiles, was designed by the Special Project Sector of the Institute of Cultural Monuments of that time.
Embodying a strong historical importance, the house, located in the former ‘silent stronghold’ and now a vibrant youthful area enriched in bars and restaurants, stands upon a new economic and cultural landscape. Hardly touched since the family left, the Villa contains the original paintings, furniture, paintings, collection of banned books mostly in French. The Villa sits like a mausoleum in the heart of the liveliest part of Tirana- isolated from its surroundings. It is a powerful symbol of the inequality of the Communist regime.
The Villa contains a strong memory of Albania’s past and its reuse presents a challenge how to acknowledge this memory, whilst looking to future possibilities and adaptions. Its position in the most economically and socially segregated area, makes the task of re-using the structure, quiet challenging.
Villa 31 holds a very strong political meaning; it strongly stands for oppression, as the former center for the dictatorship. Given the rooted political meaning it needs to offer an alternative genre of museology, one that narrates the story without glorifying ‘cult of Hoxha’. The house needs to be retained without strong interventions, rather than be subject of a conceptual transformation by opening it to developments of the alternative thought. The very core of this house consists of its history. We shall not cancel the story, rather keep it fanatically. The new realm of freedom needs these spaces to be conquered in opposition with the power. The house shall not be subject of major interventions, rather than minor architectural, yet programmatic ones.
Situated in the middle of a wide garden, it offers a great opportunity to open up the ground for public use and connect it with the outside borders of the lively social life. The Villa, whilst retaining its legacy to history, will become a beacon of activities and a vital destination for the city.
– What is the program that embraces the transformation vision of the villa?
– How the proposals for adaptive re-use improve the quality of the villa and its function?
– How the alternative uses of the existing structure skip the glorification of its political meaning?
– How to integrate the garden with the new functions and how the garden may be open for public use and activities, whether temporary or permanent ones?
The former building of the “Union of Writers” is positioned along the south part of “Kavaja Road”. The footprint of the building is 605m2 and is located within an area of 1350m2. During 1928-1929, as result of the expansion of “Kavaja Road” at the current width, it was required the demolishment the small mosque of Adem Idrizi. In 1931 it was constructed the Officers’ edifice, designed by Dhimiter Dhespoti, an engineer, part of the Albanian army during the time of King Zog I. The former Central Army House was given to the Union of Writers and since the 70s the edifice has served as refugee for the Albanian writers.
The building, since its inception, has undergone many transformations. The Council of Ministers, in 2007, decided that the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports would be transferred to the its premises and would be used in accordance to the needs. Therefore the building turned to be an institution dedicated to culture. The re-use plan displayed 4 main halls that would welcome exhibitions, talks and discussions between artists, 2 terraces so called “Lumiere Brother” and “Gjergj Fishta”. Since January 2015 the building was abandoned and it is waiting for new functions to be accommodated.
Situated nearby the city center, the vision to transform and re-use its structure, must pioneer the activation of a new socio-cultural nucleus. The upper floors, being more intimate and smaller in scale, create more private spaces; meanwhile the generous garden favors the placement of new outdoor attractions. The building characterized by different qualitative spaces: open spaces, individual rooms, lobby area, atrium; generates a structure, symbolizing a place of sharing experience, knowledge and creativity between artists, writers, musicians, architects and designers.
The garden lacks infrastructural facilities to make it usable for activities independent from the league. Yet, the garden offers the potential for developing moderate commercial attractions in tune with the vulnerability of the place.
The most compelling need is to end the deterioration of the existing conditions, provide a restoration process in which preservation and conservation of the interior shall come as a priority. The internal structure shall date back to its original form and establish a prevailing identity.
The vivid energy of art genres should submerge into a vibrant energy that brings together on a common ground the artists and the public.
– How the outdoor garden might be part of the transformation strategy and how it will be available for a larger public, might them be artists, designers etc.?
– How art-thinking can turn “the league” into a venue where cultural and artistic events may take place?
– What are the adaptive programs the edifice might accommodate?
Through this open call Atelier Albania aims to invite teams of architects and visual artists, who will generate original proposals appreciating the socio-cultural and historical context of the edifices. The participating teams must be multi-disciplinary in order to respond to the complexity of the question(s).
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