Skanderbeg Square is finalist for EU architectural prize

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 16, 2019 13:37

Skanderbeg Square is finalist for EU architectural prize

Story Highlights

  • For the 2019 edition of the European Union architectural prize are declared five finalists, among which is Tirana’s Skanderbeg Square. The winner will be declared on April and an awarding ceremony takes place in Barcelona on May 7th.

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TIRANA, Feb. 12- Member of European Parliament, Xavier Rubert de Ventos, proposed to the parliament an idea to create a Prize that would serve to recognize and commend excellence in European architecture. On Apr. 28, 1987, then European Commissioner Carlo Ripa di Meana and Barcelona Mayor Pasqual Maragall, signed an agreement to launch the launch the “Mies van der Rohe Award of the European Communities.”

The first biennial edition being held in 1988 as the “Mies van der Rohe Award for European Architecture.” After a proposal from the Fundació Mies van der Rohe to the European Commision, this award became the official ‘European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture’ in 2001.

For the 2019 edition of the EU architectural prize are declared five finalists, among which is Tirana’s Skanderbeg Square. The four other finalists that our main square is competing, are PC Caritas, a psychiatric center in Belgium, Plasencia Auditorium and Congress Centre in Spain, Terracehouse Berlin in Germany, and Transformation of 530 dwellings at Grand Parc Bordeaux in France. The winner will be announced at the end of April after the jury will visit all five locations, and the ceremony will take place on May 7th at the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion in Barcelona.

The official website for the Prize writes that Skanderbeg Square “inspired a sense of awe, and possessed a certain indefinition that created a feeling of openness.” Even though preceding communism, the new design “organizes the vast space in a simple yet radical manner, opening it up to new ways of reading.”

The Square was constructed on 1968 from the former regime. When current Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama was mayor of Tirana, in 2010, he undertook a project to Europeanise the square, trying to transform it into a pedestrian and public transport only. However, that plan fell through and new one was undertaken on 2011 after Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha became mayor following the new elections. He allowed the road to be used by all motor vehicles, but he narrowed the road, extended the green field, built bicycle lanes, and planted more trees.

The current look that the square has was a massive transformation project undertaken on 2016 by current mayor Erion Veliaj. He reintroduced Rama’s 2010 project with some changes. He expanded the green spaces by bringing various flora from around Albania for the gardens, and in the same manner he brought various stones from all-over the country for serving as grounding tiles. He made it a pedestrians-only area, linking it with the Europe park located behind the Culture Palace. Veliaj has followed an open space concept for the square, allowing a showcase of the surrounding buildings, and by also organizing various events throughout the year. The renovation of the Square won it the European Prize for Urban Public Space in summer of 2018.

Regarding the EU architectural prize, for each edition, the Jury selects from among nominations submitted by the member associations of the Architects’ Council of Europe and the other European architects’ associations, a group of experts and the Advisory Committee, a single work to be granted the Prize and a single work to be granted the Special Mention, both for their excellence in conceptual, technical and constructive terms.

The selection of the Jury for each edition has included private homes and public housing; museums and cultural installations; educational, health and sports facilities; as well large-scale infrastructure projects and transport systems. The common denominator is that these works all contribute to the construction of the European city. In this sense, the Prize aspires to be a platform for investigation, development and implementation of sustainable architectural practice that promotes the social, cultural and economic benefits of sustainable growth.

 

(Photo credits to Filip Dujardin)

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 16, 2019 13:37