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MVRDV transforms Albania's communist-era pyramid into a Culture Center with mega urban staircases

Albania Architecture News - May 19, 2018 - 01:45   21967 views

MVRDV transforms Albania's communist-era pyramid into a Culture Center with mega urban staircases

World-renowned Dutch firm MVRDV has released plans to transform Albania's communist-era pyramid into a new centre for technology, art and culture, featuring mega urban staircases that reach to the peak point. 

MVRDV's initial design was presented to the public with the presence of Prime Minister Edi Rama, Mayor Erion Veliaj, The Albanian-American Development Foundation (AADF) and the members of the Municipality of Tirana. Details about the presentation with the history of the Pyramid will be online soon on WAC.

MVRDV transforms Albania's communist-era pyramid into a Culture Center with mega urban staircases

Image © Gent Onuzi

The 11,800-square-metre former communist monument will act as a large multifunctional technology education centre for young people. "This project will completely change the current building, putting it in service of innovation, technology, art and culture, not only in Albania but to the entire region," said Mayor Erion Veliaj during the presentations. MVRDV's Tirana Pyramid is expected to be completed in June 2019.

Located in the city centre and former Enver Hoxha Museum, the Tirana Pyramid was opened in 1988. It was designed in honour of Albania's former communist leader by a group of architects including Hoxha's architect daughter, Panvera Hoxha. The building has undergone several uses over the years. It served as a temporary base for NATO during Balkan Wars, and Post-War, it has been used as nightclub and event space. 

The pyramid has a unique silhouette which gives it a strong physical presence in its locale, and it has long served as a prominent gathering point for numerous social and political events even though most recently it went into decay and at the same time became a favourite spot for young people who climbed up onto its roof. 

MVRDV's concept embraces its multifunctional use and makes the roof officially available for all visitors. The studio transforms the dark interior into an open, bright and green technology education centre.

MVRDV transforms Albania's communist-era pyramid into a Culture Center with mega urban staircases

"Though in the past, there were plans to transform this monumental building into a national theatre, this never materialised which left this fantastic building in ruin for more than a decade," said Winy Maas, co-founder of MVRDV. 

"The Pyramid of Tirana will rise again by becoming a new centre of technology and learning for young people. Maas continues “It is a symbol for many Albanians. For the older generation, it is a memory to the cultural events during communist times, for the recent generation it became the place to celebrate the new era."

"They will use it as a hangout, as a place to glide of, and for concerts and gatherings. We will open it up to its surroundings as a structure in the park, that can be populated by people, trees, and containers for co-working. We will make the beams accessible and safe so that we can all climb to the top and celebrate the structure, with views of the city of Tirana. We create an inhabited monument," Maas added.

Featuring the generous use of glass on the outer façade, the building is currently closed and inaccessible. MVRDV’s design scheme will open up the ground level on all sides, making the entire program porous and accessible. The firm will also convert the current darkened atrium into a light-filled and attractive interior space, as well as lift the current dreariness of interior spaces making them more welcoming. Due to the vast ceiling height within, trees and other greenery will be introduced into this monumental atrium.

MVRDV transforms Albania's communist-era pyramid into a Culture Center with mega urban staircases

"The concrete beams will be used for sightseeing, temporary events and will also be populated with pop-up structures of sorts, such as pavilions, platforms and settlements," said MVRDV in a project statement.

"The aim here is to give the building back to the city and its inhabitants by transforming the current façade, giving roof access, and presenting a new perspective to the city from above," added the firm.

"Essential to MVRDV's vision is the respect of the current informal use of the building mostly by young citizens of Tirana, and to strengthen this use by inviting all citizens to share this function." 

MVRDV transforms Albania's communist-era pyramid into a Culture Center with mega urban staircases

The new building will be run by TUMO, a new kind of learning program where teenagers are in charge of their own education at the intersection of technology and design. MVRDV collaborates with the Municipality on this design as a commission of the Municipality of Tirana.

Project facts

Location: Tirana, Albania

Year: 2018+

Client: Municipality of Tirana

Program: 11,800m2 educational facility for youths 

Budget: Undisclosed

Design: MVRDV - Winy Maas, Jacob Van Rijs and Nathalie De Vries

Design Team: Winy Maas, Stefan de Koning with Ronald Hoogeveen, Boris Tikvarski, Stavros Gargaretas, Leo Stuckardt and Guido Boeters.

Partners 

Youth centre management: TUMO 

Images: MVRDV, Gent Onuzi

Al images © MVRDV, unless otherwise stated

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