Albanian Archipelagos: The City of a Non-Normativity Foretold
Author: Skender Luarasi
Affiliation: Polis University
During the last thirty years, Tirana, the capital of Albania, has taken the form of an archipelago, a city of islands. In what used to be a countryside of rolling hills, today one encounters gated communities of ‘smart’ mansions, private schools and shopping centers. These islands are expensive and exclusive utopias, literally, non-places. (Alas, can there ever be any cheap and non-exclusive utopias…!?) In-between these exclusively normative or normatively exclusive islands lies a ‘sea’ of nonnormative suburban growth: whole neighborhoods haphazardly packed with two to three story constructions and unfnished concrete Maison Dom-inos. Such uneven suburban distribution is also reenacted from within the historic city of Tirana in the form of an archipelago of towers, designed by architectural frms like 51N4E, MVRDV, Archea Associati, Stefano Boeri Architetti, and others. As in the case of the rolling countryside, the ‘sea’ between the islands consists of an unbridled urban growth, which in this case, it is both an extension beyond the city, and an erasure of the existing historic fabric from within.
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