Belgian architects rebuild Skanderbeg Square in Albania
A team of Belgian architects is set to start with the reconstruction of the Albanian capital Tirana’s most important square. Brussels-based architects 51N4E have recently won the competition for the reconstruction of Skanderbeg Square.
An international jury, made up of 11 experts, unanimously elected the Belgian design – created in cooperation with Albanian artist Anri Sala – ahead of five other finalists (Architecture Studio from France, Atena Studio from Italy, Daniel Libeskind from the USA, Josep Lluis Mateo from Spain and MVRDV from Holland).
The square is the centre of Tirana and features several important buildings including the Opera Building, National Museum and the National Bank. The reconstruction is necessary due to neglect and the onslaught of traffic which detracts from the area. Many buildings in the area had been constructed following the collapse of communist rule with no planning permission - the regeneration will be one of the first large government assignments for the reconstruction of public space since this occurred in 1991.
51N4E’s design turns the 170 m by 170 m square into a traffic free zone and elevates its central part no less than three metres above ground level. Surrounding this area, there will be various parks and gardens. “Right in the centre of a belt of newly planted trees, we will construct a low pyramid no taller than three metres high. Buildings are being constructed in Tirana at a frightening pace and we want to create a space where you can escape from the chaos of an over-consumed city submerged by cars” says Johan Anrys, project architect. As the masterplan was approved unanimously Mayor Edi Rama said: “The design demonstrates respect for the city’s history while putting it into perspective. Every Albanian will be able to stand at the top of the pyramid, in a position of absolute power”.