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Competing urban visions for the capital of Albania: international projects for Tirana city centre

Durmishi, Odeta
This thesis concentrates on urban regeneration as a strategy of urban transformation in general and in the context of post-communist countries in particular. The spatial transformations in cities resulted by the urban renewal and regeneration processes are currently under discussion in Albania. The present research is based on three pillars: a review of the urban transformation, renewal and regeneration in the West and in post-socialist cities in particular; exploring the historical formation and transformation of the Tirana city centre; and finally the regeneration of the city centre through a series of international competitions as a completely new model introduced by the municipality. The thesis focuses particularly on the international competition organized to obtain the master plan for the regeneration of the Tirana city centre; it compares the main concepts, ideas and features of the three shortlisted entries: Those of Architecture Studio, Mecanoo Arkitekten and Boles and Wilson. The winning master plan is evaluated with regard to the objectives of the regeneration, its integration with the existing built environment and open spaces, as well as the process of implementation. Within this framework, the thesis aims to study and evaluate this process to direct the urban development through a master plan competition completed by a series of urban design and architectural competitions. The process of regeneration of the centre of Tirana illustrates that despite the increased capacity of the citizens in Albania in participating in the decision making of the government, the public participation in the planning process was a difficult task despite the efforts of the Municipality. Yet, the enthusiasm that the new vision of Tirana brings is considerable.