Stefano Boeri Architetti and SON Architects are announced as winners of the tender organized by the Ministry of Culture and the Albanian-American Development Foundation (AADF) for the conservation, presentation, enhancement, and planning for the Archaeological Excavations of the Roman Amphitheatre, the Byzantine Forum, and Roman Baths in the historic center of Durrës. In support of the long-term vision for the city of Durrës, the winners will also be responsible for designing a series of urban pathways with the aim of reconnecting the main historical attractions with the waterfront and the city’s port.
The amphitheater, dating back from the beginning of the 2nd century, is a testament to the city’s long history. Despite it being in a state of neglect, mainly due to a lack of financial resources and slow progressing conservation efforts, this site attracts approximately 20,000 visitors per year. This emphasizes the central role it plays in the identity and social life of the city. The proposed pathways are intended to integrate the site into a currently fragmented urban fabric and accentuate its significance by making the area more accessible to both residents and visitors.
Two other important cultural assets for the city of Durrës are also included in the brief. The Roman Baths, a listed cultural monument, cover an area of approximately 700 square meters with more structures waiting to be excavated. The archaeological site of the Byzantine Forum covers about 2,530 square meters and contains the remains of a round portico with a podium at the center which remains partially below the level of the surrounding streets. The two areas are currently separated from each other by a narrow unexcavated strip and are closed to the public.
Stefano Boeri Architetti and SON Architects will work closely with the responsible government agencies and with specific interest groups from the national and regional public sector, NGOs, academic and private sectors, relevant universities, and further education providers. The project will be funded and managed by the Albanian-American Development Foundation (AADF) in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture.
The Durrës Amphitheatre is not just a cultural monument, but a representation of the symbolism of city of Durrës, an evidence of the past glory of this ancient city, which must be returned to the attention of every visitor of Durrës. The centuries have cast a shadow but have not extinguished the light of the immense cultural wealth of Durrës, hence the project for the conservation and revitalization of the amphitheatre is necessary to restore some of the ‘lost’ glory. The amphitheatre will have to come to light in all its grandeur and to be part of a cultural map of Durrës, aiming to connect through a network of paths all the monuments of the city. Durrës has an extraordinary archaeological wealth and there is a lot more to discover, yet all roads, should lead us to the amphitheatre - Elva Margariti, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Albania.
This initiative reaffirms Stefano Boeri Architetti’s interest in archaeological heritage, as already expressed through projects like the Domus Aurea in Italy and the archaeological park of Ostia Antica. Since opening an office in Tirana in 2015, Stefano Boeri Architetti has also been an active contributor to the architectural scene of Albania by engaging in developing the General Local Plan of the city of Tirana. Other projects in the area include a Vertical Forest for Tirana 2030 Master Plan, the design of the Tirana Riverside Neighborhood, and a plan to transform schools into mixed-use spaces for their communities.