Improving health and well-being in the cities XHOANA KRISTO
Author: Xhoana Kristo
Affiliation: POLIS University
In 1990 after the reinstatement of democracy in Albania, urban development was rapid and uncontrolled. The effects of informal housing and the lack of planned transportation altered the character of the territory fragmenting the landscape. There was an evident lack of accessibility of public space, as social interaction between the city and its citizens had drastically faded. Apart from the abandonment of the old traditional houses and the historic city center the same phenomenon had also affected factories and former industrial areas in the periphery of the city.
This paper aims to define how Gjirokastra can connect its intermediate spaces and can nurture the character of its community whereby aspirations, wellbeing and interaction can be improved. The paper investigates possible scenarios on how to stimulate social interaction as a dynamic and changing sequence of social actions between individuals or groups. In addition, well-being should be also improved through design for locals and visitors, unifying the image of traditional cities and as a result requalifying public space. ‘Intermediate spaces` are leftover public, semi-public and semi-private or private areas between or among the adjacent existing buildings, which may be abandoned or not. This paper investigates the morphological relationship between such spaces and buildings. Further analysis demonstrates that there is
a link between such relationship and the betterment of social interaction, which stimulates economic growth. To this end, actions must be taken for the restoration and protection of architectural landscape and social interaction values, enabling Gjirokastras’ social energy, health and well-being. This research will rely on literature review and case study models on the requalification of public spaces, abandoned areas and terrain surveys, and analyses of the neighborhoods of Gjirokastra as potential areas investigating design proposals to enhance its identity and future development.
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