Coop Himmelblau’s freshly presented concept design for The Open Parliament of Albania is readily focused on symbolic representations. On a wider scale, the basic design looks to incorporate ‘fundamental democratic values such as openness, transparency and public co-determination’, whilst on a more detailed level the central Parliament’s Chamber is arranged so that the public viewing gallery is located above the elected assembly members in order to reflect ‘a basic democratic principle’. This Chamber also stands as the physical and metaphorical centre of the building ensemble.
The reinforced concrete structure is separated into two clear portions; an above-grade unit over two floors with a three-level parking block and basement floor; and a distinctive 5-floor office tower elevated on four cores above the base. At approximately 12,500 sq m per level, the dominating designs suggest that Coop Himmelblau is close to achieving its original goal: “To provide a strong urban statement in this exposed part of Tirana’s urban fabric.”
A public courtyard forms the centrepiece of this brave concept, with offices flanking it on all sides. This open forum and park creates a distinct barrier between the parliament and the facilities for the Prime Minister, with a public staircase leading from the forum onto the beautifully landscaped roof. On entering the building, visitors are greeted by an enormous glazed cone – a representation of the ‘transparency of the legislation’ – which functions as a parliamentary hall. Also at entrance level are open flexible spaces to be utilised for various functional purposes, such as meeting rooms, bureau of the parliament, generous reception areas and a large additional function room.
Above this mass of practical spaces are restaurants and dining facilities for use by MPs and staff, a library and archive centre, multiple venues for international conferences and additional areas for press conferences. The exterior of the nearby office building is wrapped in a second skin of perforated steel which aims to enhance building performance by optimising natural daylighting, providing inspiring views, offering glare protection and lowering noise pollution.