The city of design and culture IVONNE ORTIZ SANCHEZ
Author: Ivonne Ortiz Sanchez
Affiliation: Ferrara University
Gjirokastra is the main city of the Ionian region in the south of Albania. Since 2005, the city was included in the UNESCO List of World Heritage as a Cultural site. This article aims to develop a proposal for rethinking Gjirokastra, which has become a shrinking city. Its main goal is to propose through the analysis of case studies a model with strategies to turn Gjirokastra into a city of design and culture. The proposal seeks to emphasize the strengths of the city such as tourism infrastructure, like hotels and restaurants, restored buildings, and courses and workshops organized by the municipality that focus on the culture and history of the city, by pursuing new sources of income and taking advantage of the tourist development that have taken place so far. This proposal also aims to empower the citizens of Gjirokastra to have their own businesses and be an active part of the development of this new city.
This paper focuses on two main strategies: first, the development of Summer Schools (two to four weeks in length), and second, the Artistic Residence (one to three months length) for local and foreigner artists, designers and architects. The summer schools will be conducted by local masters to teach techniques of working in stone, wood and fabric. The in-residence artists will work with the urban space, buildings, landmarks or local materials. The process consists of producing and working with a plan that includes where to stay, what to eat and what to experience in the city, and how to generate historical, cultural, natural and gastronomical paths inside the city and in the surrounding areas for different time periods. The selected case studies that we will analyze are from Latin-American and Europe: from Chio Lecca, Peru; Bauhaus Foundation Dessau, Germany; and Manos de colores, Ecuador. We will work with concepts from Participatory design and co-creative design.
As part of the school, each designer, artist or architect is expected to develop a design product of high quality for everyday life with the learned techniques and local materials. At a later stage, these objects will be produced and distributed in the city for the Albanian market and subsequently exported. The in-residence artists are expected to generate unique pieces of art that will be exposed in a gallery for locals and tourists to visit. The choice of the case studies was based on the programs and outcomes they have had when they were developed. The result of the proposal will be a group of strategies that the municipality or associations of citizens of Gjirokastra can implement in the city. Also, as conclusion guides lines will be presents for the process after the implementation of these strategies.
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