Located in the historical heart of the city the Flag Square is no longer adapted to its current use and traffic situation. The project for the public space imagines a complete restructuring of the space, introducing a more human scale and better defined spaces. The existing structure earmarked to become the Regional Development Centre speaks of a long and difficult relation between the site and the surrounding city. At an overall length of over 150 meters and a height of more than 65m the existing structure is itself of an almost ‘urban’ scale, a ‘super’structure that has the potential to house a big amount of programs, functions and architectures. The site and building have to deal with a remarkable dichotomy of scales and urbanity between the north-eastern and south-western context. On the north and especially the east the project faces the fine, small-scale historic tissue of the recently renovated old city. On the western side the building faces a much larger scaled context, loaded with symbolic landmarks of national importance. The scale is defined by the main Flag Square, the large public park and the large ‘Boulevard’ avenue. The building project employs two main tools, inspired more on urban design than architecture. The first tool is the creation of two open and public galleries that cut through the superstructure from east to west. These galleries reduce the perceived scale of the massive structure and allow for a previously lacking porosity through the ground floor. The second urban tool that defines the architecture of the building is the creation of a ‘vertical’ public street, reaching from the public ground floor, over the roof garden all the way up to the panoramic bar at the top of the sculptural tower volume. As the main public thoroughfare of the building, it is the place where the front doors of the different program components will address themselves to. This exterior semi-public vertical street serves many functions. It is the negative space that transforms the building into a sculpture, it forms the terrace and balcony space for the programs inside the building, it will serve as a main public circulation though the structure – dimensioned for large masses moving up and down – but mainly it serves as a connector, a link between the old and new, heritage and innovation, between the artisans and the young coders, linking people as well as the city and the superstructure.
Albanian Development Fund (ADF)
XDGA (Xaveer De Geyter Architects)
Xaveer De Geyter, Pieter Coelis, with Karla Kovacevic, Jonathan Robert Maj, Rui Zehna
iRI sh.p.k. (engineering), Jeshile sh.p.k. (landscape)