Design Icons: Albania's New Architecture Taking Shape

Albania's architecture is tied to the sea and the country's cultural heritage. Bordered by Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Greece, the republic spans both the Adriatic and Ionian Sea as it connects to the Mediterranean. Over time, Albania has seen a confluence of different civilizations and cultures, each shaping the built environment as we experience it today.

Design Icons: Albania's New Architecture Taking Shape - More Images+ 7

© Filip Dujardin

Albanians call their country Shqipëri or Shqipëria, meaning "Land of the Eagles" or "Children of the Eagles". In turn, the country's architecture is connected to its landscapes, from the mountainous Alps to the coastline, shaping diverse building styles and construction techniques. Inspiration was drawn from a range of backgrounds, including Ottoman, Venetian, Roman, Moor and Arabic influences. Throughout the country, historic buildings and contemporary structures stand side-by-side. The following projects take a closer look at Albania's contemporary architecture projects designed within the last ten years.

Skanderbeg Square by 51N4E

© Filip Dujardin

The restructuring of Skanderbeg Square is the result of an international architecture competition won by 51N4E in 2008. The competition’s proposal, conceived in collaboration with Albanian artist Anri Sala, reorganizes Tirana’s central square, a vast space, in a simple yet radical way. In a complex and dense urban context, on this site that is both the core of the Albanian capital city and a symbol for the whole country, the project installs a generous pedestrian area.

Bank of Albania HQ Renovation by Petreschi Achitects

Courtesy of Petreschi Architects

This renovation project for the Bank of Albania consists of both the total renovation and restoration of the existing historic Central Bank, designed by Vittorio Ballio Morpurgo in 1934-36, and the construction of a new building. It includes the new Numismatic Museum, a new conference hall for 150 persons, offices, meetings room, an internal gallery, a roof garden and an underground four-levels parking.

Tirana Pyramid by MVRDV

© Gent Onuzi

MVRDV has unveiled its vision for transforming the Communist-era “Tirana Pyramid” in Albania into a center for technology, art, and culture. Under the plans, the abandoned structure will be revitalized as a multifunctional technology education center for Tirana’s youth, with the existing dark interior becoming open, bright, and green.

Marubi National Museum Of Photography by Casanova+Hernandez Architecten

© Christian Richters

The selected design for the Marubi Museum developed by Casanova+Hernandez architects aims to promote a rich dialogue between tradition and modernity, between the past and the present. The legacy of the tradition is underlined by restoring the historical building designed by the famous Albanian painter, sculptor, photographer and architect born in Shkodër, Kolë Idromeno, while preserving its spatial and structural qualities without any volume transformation or new interior partitions.

Korça Icon Museum by Bolles + Wilson

© Roman Mensing

The building for the Korça Icon Museum was originally a structure of columns and floor slabs (maison domino) abandoned when communism collapsed in Albania. The Albanian office DEA Studio sh.p.k. were comissioned to design facades and BOLLES+WILSON were then asked by the municipality of Korça to design and develop an interior exhibition design for the 300 orthodox icons.

TID Tower by 51N4E

© Stefano Graziani

The TID tower is part of a series of operations to bring the idea of the city as a collective space back in the hearts and minds of the people. The first wave was an emergency operation: in the year 2000 an ‘urban guerilla’ started, combining the destruction of buildings with the painting of facades in strong, larger than life colors. The second wave in 2003 was more organized and planning oriented: it crystallizes in a master plan for a pedestrianized center, marked at the edges with 2 parallel (and monumental) rows of towers.

Cape Square by BOOM Landscape + CITYFÖRSTER

© Blerta Kambo

BOOM Landscape worked in partnership with Cityförster on a commission by the mayor of Durrës to design a new public space on the site of a waterfront building-debris fly-tip. Explicit in the commission was the ambition to provide an inspiring transformation in the context of a national campaign to improve Albania’s sometimes mistreated coastline. Taking cues from the site itself, the team proposed adding more rubble, in the form of local stone quarried from the hills above Durrës.

Servete Maçi Primary and Secondary School by Studioarch4

© Besart Cani

Servete Maçi is a primary school located in the capital of Albania, Tirana. This newly built school is situated in a very dense area close to the center. The building is composed of 18 classrooms, 5 laboratories, one gymnasium, one full-size auditorium for 140 people, a library, 8 individual spaces dedicated to the learning of musical instruments, as well as several administrative areas.

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Cite: Eric Baldwin. "Design Icons: Albania's New Architecture Taking Shape" 27 Feb 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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