TIRANA030: A DIALOGUE

There is no word more abused by the Rama administration than that of transparency, which unsurprisingly has served to shroud with immense mystery and suspicion almost every initiative it is associated with. So committed are they to transparency that a special portal was set up called transparenca.al, that mostly serves as a venue to refute facts with fiction and vice versa.

Rama’s protégé and current Mayor of Tirana, Erion Veliaj, is equally fond of espousing and interchangeably paying lip service  to transparency, public engagement and dialogue. This transparency, however, often comes to the general public as fait accompli; in the form of sound bites from press conferences, stunning PowerPoint presentations, and Facebook albums that while immortalizing the event, generally offer little, if any, real engagement. If the ongoing citizen-led protests against a playground in Lake Park are an indication, the issue of transparency and citizen participation in urban planning is about to become a central point of contestation and public engagement in wrestling the power, over the fate of the city, away from technocrats. This demand for transparency, engagement and accountability is not new per se, but it is more acute, precisely because it is constantly being peddled as the hallmark of this administration, while many of its larger scale and impactful decisions have been made with little or no real input from citizens. Add to this that invitations for feedback and public engagement are often limited, one sided, or as is the case for Tirana030, in English and full of bullshit, which instead of informing and promoting dialogue serve to stun with their aura of brilliance.

Tirana030, a “new general local plan and strategic vision” was presented by Stafano Boeri and his coterie to a handpicked audience, and only afterwards made available to the general public as an “interactive platform for public engagement” by Joni Baboci, the head architect of Tirana Municipality. There is a level of deep naïveté, or perhaps it is more the outcome of calculated decisions, that once you make something transparent and open to the public the due diligence for citizen participation has been met.  So, in what seemed to be the height of the protest over the playground in Lake Park, the head architect took to Facebook on March 7, scratching his head in wonder as to why people were protesting with their feet in the park, while the document he had shared two weeks ago had received little input from citizens.

To some the protests in the park are the most genuine input to this document, even if indirect and not fully acknowledged by activists on the ground.  To others, the document does such a poor job in justifying its status as the product of a highly celebrated architect, that no one in their right mind would earnestly engage with it.  Nonetheless, there is the burden, if not to take them seriously, to at least hold dear our role as citizens. To that end there have been at least two much needed analyses by Ardian Vehbiu (Albanian) and Vincent Van Gerven Oei (English and Albanian).  Having a general interest and academic formation in urban political theory, and finding the document to be of such epic proportions of bullshit, I decided to engage as a citizen and provide some input. Much to my surprise, Joni Baboci, whose comments are in italics, showed interest in keeping up a dialogue, but his comments thinned out once others also came on board to comment on the plan. The comments and concerns already surfaced are worth a read and should serve as a stepping stone for even greater scrutiny of this plan.

In service of public engagement and record keeping, I have taken the time to capture all of the comments submitted to the document as of March 27.  I will do my best to update should there be additional comments. Included below are only those slides that had comments (I have resisted the urge to spellcheck the comments). For the full version of the presentation see here.

 

 

1.

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Pershendetje te gjitheve, duke shtypur ikonen “Add comment” (ose Ctrl+Alt+M) keni mundesine te lini pershtypjet tuaja dhe ti ndani me ne ne nje dokument te unifikuar. Ju ftojme te prezantoheni me Emer dhe Mbiemer ne menyre qe nese idete tuaja behen pjese e planit t’ju bejme pjese te listes se kontribuesve.

* * *
Greetings everyone, by clicking on the “Add comment” (or Ctrl+Alt+M) button you are able to give us your feedback on our work in a single unified and shared document. We invite you to introduce yourselves by giving us your Name and Surname so that if your ideas become a part of the plan, you can be mentioned as one of the contributors. – Joni Baboci

* * *

Could someone (in charge not anonymous) tell us contractual gross payment for this “art approach” strategic vision? I strongly believe that this art approach for Tirana is referring to terms of reference prepared by Albanian Government. Is it this true? Or is pure Boeri liquid hallucination? Thank you

* * *

Half milion euro for 71 “empty” pages…..??!! Must be a joke

Thank you anonymous. Maybe Boeri is including the original Fresco by
Ambrolio Lorenzetti within “strategic vision” documents.

KrisAndon ASSOCIATE – KAAS
Send from Tablet

* * *

Here the term ‘entity’ is used, as opposed to ‘city’ later. This may be nitpicking, but I am curious what you see the difference as being?

* * *

A s’do kishte qene me mirë të ishte në Shqip?! Më jep ndjesinë e selektivitit që në momentet e para. Kush nuk di Anglisht nuk përfshihet dot. Pak tricky.

* * *

What is it with the mangled English?

* * *

Personally, I would like a more professional English translation of this proposal. Also, an Albanian version of it would be very helpful for a better understanding of the author’s visionary ideas and urban planning concepts by Albanian counterparts and, hopefully, would bring more comments and/or suggestions from citizens of Tirana, the most interested people in this case.

In addition, I think that a time table agenda on this proposal would make it more convincing.

Pirro Vaso

 

2.

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Five out of nine propositions are about positioning Tirana relative to the Balkans, Europe and larger global planes. Is this a feasible approach given the critical urban problems Tirana faces as a city and as a capital of Albania. This “vision” seems to address or even hint at any of those concerns but somehow deems it important to wax poetic about European biodiversity models, tourism circuits, center of mediterranean culture and religion? What is missing from this vision is TIRANA itself. This might as well have been Cerrik or Elbasan, or any city in the world. I repeat 5 out of 9 KEY concerns identified have little immediate or even long term impact on the city itself. They all concern the “brand” marketing of a generic city.

* * *

I think that in the itinerant debate of European enlargement and the evermore imminent immigration crisis, thinking of our city as a regional hub of sustainability, biodiversity and multiculturalism is perhaps one of the most important points to be made while designing a vision. This stage of the planning work simply reflects where we want to go and what we are currently thinking. It is more methodology than an actual vision. I would call it a vision in progress, to be curated through intelligent input and continuous engagement. I therefore think that it is way more than branding or marketing – that would be more appropriate to the tourism part, but basically tourism is exactly as per above.

* * *

It is cause for concern that the starting point for this group is EU enlargement and immigration, neither of which a masterplan ever addresses. Would it not have been more sensible to have as a starting point concerns of the city which may align with the items above at the macrolevel. In designing a sustainable and healthy city that meets its citizens basic needs you would have gotten closer to the question of EU enlargement dilemmas that you think. You would have a people that would not be desperate to leave first chance they had therefore contributing to the macro concerns you start out with.

* * *

How so? The starting point of this process is a clash of ideas – the methodology hopes to keep this exchange going – this is not about neutralizing statements, but rather about engaging intelligent people to think on two planes: a global intellectual plane, and a local getting-things-done plane. I believe that the dialectics in-between these two planes, encouraged by different minds who share similar feelings towards the city can only improve the final result. 

I would disagree that a masterplan should not consider the previously mentioned topics. A masterplan, our masterplan should not be a static document, but should adapt to the relevant political issues and adapt its practical impact to the international discourse. Any relevant issues why it shouldn’t?

I believe that engaging at the micro level cannot happen online. We are setting up various workshops, interviews and co-mmunicaton processes to enrich and potentiate our common work. 

I don’t think we can understand why people want to leave Albania (much less so Tirana), without addressing these very questions.

* * *

We agree on the need to pit ideas and levels against one another, I simply question why so much weight is given to the macro level issues rather than the “on the ground” issues of the city. I am here to interrogate the assumptions put forward, even this notion of an ever evolving masterplan which, while I agree it should not be fixed and static it should be even less opportunistic. All of the macro geopolitical concerns are things no city can hope to solve, but it can address them for its own citizens. So how do we make a city livable so that Albanians do not leave it. There is more of a concern with “refugees” flooding Europe than there is acknowledgement that Albanians make up such a high and disproportionate number, leaving out of economic hardships. I am also quite attuned to how the Macro impact the local level but I see nothing that hints at this give and take relationship. I do get the feeling that lipstick is being put on a pig and being offered to Europe as the dumping ground.

Glad to hear about the multiple efforts to build dialogue on the ground.

* * *

Ok, I guess my first question is: can someone pls explain the analogy of the fresco, charter and atlas, is that hierarchical in scope or scale?
On the first look, and trying not to be too cynical, but this page (in scope and scale) is the equivalent of creating a new country from scratch. The reason I say that (and not counting the budget here at all) is because 1) there is no timetable, when are these things happening, immediate future, long term, temporary interventions to get to the more permanent ones, etc. and 2) where is the contextual research, historical and existing forces that have shaped the city. Everything is directed towards the future, which is totally fine, but if we cannot identify and highlight historical context, heritage, crown jewels, then how can we know we’re still in Tirana, AL. and not anywhere else in the world. Context studies are important (and they probably will come later, or are already done, just not included) as are comparative studies, of successful models (things that have worked, or are working and so forth). I would caution asking ‘can tirana’ do this or become this, because yes it can if we wanted to, but do we really? The idea is to propose a future city without forgetting the identity or character of the old one (if it has one). Also, a lot of big generic words and concepts are thrown around such as ‘smart city’, ‘high-tech’, ‘biodiverse’, ‘non-anthropocentric’, etc. My comment is simply asking: What do they mean in the context of Tirana? It is too late to have a non-anthropocentric city, since we’re well into the anthropocentric age. A better approach might be: well now that we’re in the midst of it, what do we do? ALso, achieving a balance is great, but urban space is so complicated and complex that the most anyone can strive for is establishing a hierarchy or matrix between things, meaning: do we focus on the ecosystem and ecological means as a way for urban regeneration, which can also touch upon energy efficiency, air, water, land quality. That’s a mouthful right there

* * *

but, looking at how these cycles start engaging one another, then we know who goes in first and at what capacity, what follows and so on.
One last thing, without sounding like a broken record, I would caution again about question 09) Can Tirana become the largest Balkan Garden? Tirana was a garden city for the longest time, until the 90s when it totally got devoured by cars: traffic, air pollution, accidents, deteriorating roads, etc. Why turn it back, for nostalgia? Or maybe a better question is why go back? If it becomes a garden city again, what good will it do to it? I don’t know, but some food for thought.

 

 

3.

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What is meant by “intense” in this case? By way of globalization Tirana is already a global city — it participates in one way or another in the global circulation of capital, labor, culture and people. So what would an intensification of this “globality” look like? Does this intensification include any mechanisms for abating the negative outcomes of hyper globalization?

* * *

I tend to interpret intensity in this framework as vibrancy & density. Tirana is often criticizes as a dense urban form with an imminent automobile crisis related to the impossibility of enlarging infrastructure. Yet some of the most successful cities have been moving towards more density, living closer to their workplaces, services and entertainment areas – therefore requiring less resources to commute, and allowing for more diversity and cultural cross-pollination; increasing density while shifting the current mobility paradigm could potentially enhance public space and leapfrog towards success from what is currently labeled as problem.

* * *

I am familiar with the approach of density concentration but this tends to be especially true in cities of extreme suburban sprawl which often siphon the tax base and services from city centers and create heavy infrastructure burdens. This does not APPLY to Tirana. Its outgrowth is the result of very different forces. Its outskirts hardly have the needed infrastructure, so the argument of reigning it in is of little weight. This does not mean that the idea of density should not be embraced but just not for the same reasons and outcomes.

* * *

Well that’s why I mentioned leapfrogging and the fact that we possible are labeling as problems phenomena that really are blessings in disguise.

Property tax is currently at 15 Lek / m2 / year in Tirana. For a 100sqm apartment at the block or in Kashar you pay the same 10 Euros a year in property tax. Why should the outskirts have infrastructure if they aren’t – and will not in the foreseeable future – paying for it? (boldness is mine) Can we align with what is happening globally in terms of smaller, centrally located and transit-connected apartments, which luckily for as (and again well-aligned with global trends) also function as mixed areas of services and entertainment. Has informality, through its individual-oriented brute force made this city smarter – and are we fools for not sensing this series of inherent organic mechanisms sooner?

* * *

This, then, becomes an economic issue, policy and zoning laws, and the like, that no matter how you plan it or design it, relies on the state or local gov’t to regulate it in some way. I still don’t know what you mean by “Why should the outskirts have infrastructure if they aren’t – and will not in the foreseeable future – paying for it?” If we’re talking about doing a masterplan this ambitious and inclusive, then why wouldn’t these areas be included? How would the plan look like in these areas? What will happen in the peripheries of the polycentric nodes? As buffer zones between urban and rural, I think peripheries are key in making most things work. Informal areas may be offgrid most often, but they seem to succeed in knowing how to survive, even thrive. They can be very ingenious, organically creating communities, cultures within their means, even their own aesthetics, be that desirable or not is not for me to say, but my point is that we should not be so dismissive.. Id really like to understand your question (that i have quoted above) about the outskirts, infrastructure and ability to pay, but Im afraid I don’t yet..

* * *

This is perhaps a strange question, but I am curious if there is a concept behind the chronological distortion–why is Lorenzetti’s fresco dated to the early 20th century? Does this actually have a kind of role in the historical concept you are trying to activate, or is it simply the result of an over-hasty attempt laying out of the ideas framing the project?

4.

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Is this slide an illustration of the overall approach/philosophy of assemblage and collage and the city as a mosaic? None of the imagery in it translated or refers to anything Albania specific. Let’s keep in mind that most residents of Tirana were not on hand for the presentation where context of this slide was introduced. So what DOES it say in and of itself?

* * *

i don’t know and i can’t seem to be able to grasp even imagine what it could mean, but if i was guessing i’d say that they’re constructs, not of place, but social constructs, pop art perception, a global one, not albania specific, meaning and value of which i’m not sure i know. can someone tell me the idea or logic behind this slide? please and thank you.

* * *

Pershendetje. Nuk e kuptoj ne rradhe te pare pse ky projekt eshte vetem online, duke ju pamendesuar keshtu te drejten e shprehjes shume qytetareve te Tiranes qe ndoshta nuk kane mundesi te shohen kete platforme virtuale. Nje gje tjeter qe nuk kuptoj eshte ky punim, me disa pyetje dhe disa pika strategjie te cilat do te perdoren per te arritur objektivat, cdo gje anglisht a thua standartet e qytetit tone jane kozmopolite. Tirana 030 qenka nje plan afatgjate, jo dhe aq i miremenduar ky qytetaret duhet te japin ide ne nje platforme e cila nuk te sqaron asgje.

* * *

I also do not understand the use of Hamilton’s images to frame the project – perhaps this was made clear in the presentation that accompanied the slide show (although that again raises the issue of what good this forum does on it’s own, divorced from that initial presentation). Do you envision this project as critiquing late capitalism? If so, how? And how does Hamilton’s examination of the body relate to the possibilities for Tirana? Do you actually hope to overcome potentially insidious capitalist technologies of (body – )image production? Or does Hamilton just look ‘cool’ and suggest ‘the homes of tomorrow’?

5. 

0005Lovely nod to the US Constitution and the notion of grassroots design but this very document is not translated and made available in Albanian so I am puzzled who the “we” refers to and who the “people” are. It would have been rather appropriate to say “we the bureaucrats”.

* * *

I believe that communication and engagement with citizens is very hard to achieve nowadays. Public hearings and consultations tend towards formality and very seldom produces relevant input. I believe English to be a tool that facilitates this sort of communication. Nevertheless we should definitely strive for maximum accessibility; we the bureaucrats.

* * *

Yes, is that why the invitation to the presentation went out just an hour prior to the event? It is hard to engage the public and it is even easier to claim its hard and not aim for transparency and dialogue.

* * *

The invitations went out 5 days prior to the event and the team never claimed to consider this a public hearing of any sort. It was a very basic initial presentation of concepts and ideas to help the process move forward and start a collaboration. As per transparency, I sincerely believe that it’s hard to get more transparent then opening the debate and the discussion at the methodological level.

* * *

is it the aim of this project to be the new ‘urban’ constitution?

9. 

0009

Is this a plan or a vision? Is this a local plan for a “global” city?

* * *

It’s a strategy to get to a plan. It’s about gathering the best case practices of place-making and interpret them into a solid intellectual framework.

10.

 

00010

someone needs to do a deeper reading of this piece, in order to understand the idea behind this choice and how it might (or not) relate to the larger plan. conceptually and independently of this project, i get (and dig) the allegory and the cryptic nature of the piece, but for Tirana 030 all i can say (without any text accompanying this page) is: beware of the wall and the seemingly idyllic/pastoral landscape 🙂

* * *

Again, I agree with Irsi; Lorenzetti’s allegory also had a ‘bad government’ corollary, and it is questionable if the piece functions didactically without a similar work in that role here. What is to be critiqued in Tirana today? What practices would constitute the ‘bad government’ side of the coin, for the authors of this plan? It is important to be open about this issue.

13. 

00013

I find something entirely problematic in this artificial triadization of urban, agricultural and natural spheres. They are for the most part overlapping and especially in the Albanian context one can hardly separate the urban from the agricultural and the natural. This kind of framing is entirely disregarding the growth and outgrowth Tirana has experienced, especially in the last 25 years. The balance is in supporting organically what is already symbiotic while setting new agendas for introducing mixed for sustainability and diversity.

* * *

While being symbiotic is it sustainable? i.e. is subsistence farming something that needs positive incentives? Isn’t it fantastically different from guerrilla gardening? This is not about demolishing informality, it’s about finding a balance between the aforementioned spheres – doing it by using the best local examples of informality as a creative starting point.

* * *

And to think that guerrilla gardening is all the rage in Brooklyn today!

* * *

how would someone define balance? or better yet what is the predicted balance? Personally, I can think of balance in such a large scale,as a systematic challenge between the three or the many, flexibility of each without letting neither fully disappear. But that’s the sunday school version, because such balance will never exist, because there are other forces at play, political/economical etc. that are constantly throwing these systems off-balance or blowing them up in a bubble (bad analogy i know). my point being that in today’s world and reality, i am more inclined to see balance as a clashing of sorts. as always the cynic’s point of view, but there’s something to be said about that, specifically if these spheres are not well defined.

14.

00014

I have no idea what the first sentence of this slide means. English is my first language. Clarify. What do you mean by ‘striking natural settlements’ in Tirana? Why would anyone want them?

15.

00015

The issue with the term intensity has already been brought up aboe, but what does “intensify and disincentives of the external area” mean? Could I get a translation in another language (preferably shqip)? I understand that English is an issue in this document, and I am not trying to mock the authors, but there is a very serious and recurring issue with sentences that are BOTH unclear in their concepts AND gramatically incorrect in English. (This raises the question of WHY it is ONLY in English.) Nonetheless, what do you mean by ‘disincentives of the external area’? I’m curious if these means you want to create disincentives for people living ‘external’ to Tirana? If so, why? If not, what do you mean?

* * *

What is “Stoke exchange”? Again, apologies, but edit your document before you declare that no one has provided input in the two weeks you have had it posted. How can someone take seriously a document with so many typos that it appears the authors did not care that much about what was conveyed? It may not be the case that you did not care, but it looks that way, creating the impression of a low level of professionalism.

* * *

I agree that the restoration of historical buildings is important – even more important is to make sure that the restoration is SUSTAINABLE and creates opportunities for citizens to understand and learn from this heritage. In the past year in Tirana, the exact opposite has happened: buildings like the House of Leaves and Bunk’Art have opened for brief periods, then closed again, then (occasionally) reopened. In the case of House of Leaves, the historic ‘museum’ was essentially only opened to foreign dignitaries, for the press. This needs to be avoided at all costs – it is an insult to the populace and their alleged investment in the history of the city and the country.

19. 

 

00019

The goal here should be on sustainable means of transportation for the city and its residents that perhaps eventually can align with European aspirations of sustainable mobility. This is a masterplan for the city not a masterplan for Tirana in Europe.

* * *

In terms of current infrastructural constrains, Tirana is a city on the brink. Albania has 118 cars / 1000 inhabitants, Italy 682, Greece 537. That means we have to absorb 3-4 times the amount of cars currently on the road just to par the course. Add the once wide sidewalks eaten by ever-encroaching structures, and you get at a vacuum which, at least, can allow you to dream of a creative new model.

* * *

This creative new model should include what every European city has: decent public transportation. Let’s interrogate further the assumption that we have to absorb more cars. Let’s start with tried and tested means of transportation that also contribute to reducing carbon emissions, traffic and increase public spaces. The most public of public spaces today are trains and buses.

* * *

Agreed!

Let’s not pretend to not see what might be coming though.

* * *

because it is such an ambitious plan, moving forward i would encourage a more specific definition (and real examples) of the highlighted phrases and a better understanding of their positioning or importance in the totality of the overarching vision. what is the overarching big idea they all support or feed off of? for example, knowing what constitutes an ‘immaterial connection’ then specifically designing such condition as it relates to whatever it’s connecting. also, an interesting thing is this idea of ‘policies of reduction’, what does it entail?
another question, without trying to sound too much out of touch with what’s happening there, the connection between Tirana and Durres, wasn’t there a competition and winning project for that? if that’s the case then how can it be incorporated in this masterplan? or is it, its own thing?

* * *

Agreed with Irsi on the Tirana and Durres route: isn’t this already essentially what is happening with this space? That section of Tirana and in the direction of Durres has already seen a great deal of development in the direction of ‘commercial avenues’; do we really need more businesses and malls springing up along this route? Who benefits from this? Or more accurately, how will everyday citizens benefit, or is it primarily to attract foreign capital?

27. 

 

00027

I think I can count on my hand the number of people that even know what anthropocentric means. I don’t say this to patronize but rather to point out that a lot of this “vision” is importing in copy past format concerns that originated with actors that have had a major role in causing climate change. To carry over this responsibility to tiny Albania seems entirely out of touch. This is a case of projecting western caused anxieties to other places as though they were all equally guilty. They are equally responsible in their own ways.

* * *

While we might depart from a western anxiety – the practical impacts are more then relevant:http://geology.com/sea-level-rise/

Tirana would definitely be affected indirectly by climate change. Nevertheless I think the point that is being made here is more than simply idolizing any change in climate. It’s about finding a balance with our surroundings. Tirana is now 25 times larger and includes extremely different topographical and territorial typologies. I do want to refer back to those two plains of research I mentioned earlier – I see no harm in addressing political issues as long as they are relevant and have a practical impact on the final result.

* * *

i would add ground remediation, gray/black water collection/filtration, proper waste recycling and management, repurposing materials from demo sites, etc. all the processes that nobody sees or wants to deal with, but that are necessary in contributing to biodiversity or sustainability at large, even before mentioning beautification of parks, trees, and what have you. the idea of a productive green space or spaces as part of a larger system at play, scores more points then a recreational one, when it comes to the health of human and non-human ecosystem, and it also engages energy (efficiency), local products sold in markets (economy), less trips to the doctor, less pills and all of that downhill battle. It also should include the habitat of stray animals in an urban environment and its management.

* * *

These are all admirable goals (although a bit ironic given current practices in Tirana’s Great Park), but I second Elona’s comment about the opacity of the term (and concepts) of anthropocentrism for many of the ‘everyday citizens’ you might want to involve in this. You need to say more to explain what you mean, and to outline why these would be necesary changes (in the direction of ‘non-anthropocentrism’). Furthermore, this raises the question of whether or not processes of ‘re-naturalization’ are really non-anthropocentric. We know from previous experiences with de-extinction and also with attempts to revert landscapes to ‘prior’ conditions that processes of ‘re’naturalization are not necessarily ‘natural’; they often in fact conform to very ‘anthropocentric’ standards of human ideas about the beauty of nature. Is this what you plan to do? How will you avoid this aestheticization (and potential instrumentalization of that aestheticization)?

38.

 

00038

 

1. What does “900 geopolitics” refer to? If no current citizen knows off the top of their head what this term refers to then is it a quality to valorize?
2. Tirana is a 24 hour/days a week metropolis, regardless of the digital services. The question needs to be reframed to identify what of this “24 hour metropolis” can be serviced digitally and whatnot.
3. The concern of agrotourism seems entirely removed from the city. Boeri seems particularly fond of this and it is an important framework to keep in mind as the design moves forward but I am not convinced this needs to be an actual point of emphasis.It seems like an exercise in vanity.

* * *

1. Do you think that no lamp would turn on inside citizen’s heads when they would hear the term “an open air museum of the 900 geopolitics”. I think it definitely is, and will become more and more a quality to valorize. The issue though really persists in the inherent fact that we cannot valorize something without properly evaluating it first – something which we (as albanians) have never done, and probably still do not want to do with our recent history.

2. We are working on a map of the city at night. The city transforms during the night. Electricity is cheaper which means that most of the manufacturing and energy intensive businesses in the Kashar area are just as much, if not more active then during the day. The block lights up – same people, different rooms – still I tend to agree that this is not related to the “services of digital information and management”.

3. I think it serves well in terms of a dispersed series of original entertainment and leisure – in practical terms when i hear agrotourism and Tirana I imagine: UKA Farm, Taverna Kokoneshi or NANO Bio Resort. Small-scale, family run enterprises which capture the city during the weekends, while transforming the peri-urban territory into a productive “green-belt”, which because of its own success is not prone to land speculation at the edge and further sprawl and development.

39.

 

00039

1 – This seems empty rhetoric to me. What private tourism company would welcome active participation of the local population? To do what?
2. This again is a marketing activity and not one that directly has input into the design of masterplan.
3 – Many such organizations already exist with generous state and city support. What will this plan do to accommodate existing activity in addition to creating new ones.
4. What is a “true office”? What is currently in place and how will this be different?

* * *

1. I’ll agree to that.
2. Of course it does. I do not think of this process as a strictly territorial one. The territorial, developmental and regulatory element should be a by-product of a larger body of research which NEEDS to address tourism as an important part of the economy.
3. I still don’t know, but you are more then welcome to suggest ways to achieve that.
4. I’ll also pass that on to one of the colleagues who has come up with it. I imagine it relates to a shared work-space which allows for exchange and creativity to flourish. Potentially with the city as a partner in promoting it’s own citizens.

* * *

Do you see art, history, language, etc. as having any value except as resources for tourism? What about ways to make them accessible and meaningful for Albanians first, before we worry about tourists? You are I’m sure aware of the numerous critiques levelled at the touristification of culture, especially in smaller countries.

43.

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The myth of the Creative City and Creative Class has been long shattered. That and Tirana would have to offer a lot in return to be able to compete and attract these actors. While attractive to city planners and real estate developers this has proven to be detrimental to city residents when pursued at all cost.

* * *

I don’t think of the creative class as a strictly millennial phenomena. I believe that artisans and makers should definitely be labeled as creatives even if they don’t know how to use a computer.

44. 

00044

Do we want Tirana and therefore Albania to be just a site unfettered and unchecked speculation and cheap labor? Is this in conflict with the earlier proposition for attracting creative actors? It will either be the city of creatives or the city of cheap labor – the two realities they command cannot co-exist that easily.

* * *

We still are abstractly speculating. I do not think I would affront an answer to the issues you raise for now.

45.

 

00045

This all sounds very sexy but we are projecting a city not for what it can do for its current citizens but a city that will attract new, different ones. Another San Francisco!

50.

00050

This is indeed a tough question, since many of the economic relationships with Italy and Europe are (for some in Albania) economically exploitative (taking call centers, especially those that exist in smaller towns in Albania, as cases in point). The question I have is: is this really ‘social capital’? What do you see the social capital as being? The fact that Albanians are employed by foreign companies? The fact that they speak other languages? Essentially my question is this: how will you address the problem of Albanians continually being forced to adapt their situation to Europe, while Europe is not asked to adapt its (language, economy, so forth) to Albania?

51.

00051

If you are going to ‘digitize’ everything, could we also not forget to include the more basic (and immediate) needs for physical signage directing people to places like bus stops and schedules? It is great to dream that everyone has a functioning smartphone to look at an app, but that is rarely the reality, and the plan should reflect the necessities of that reality. So first: ‘how to develop the dynamic signage on a wall that tells you that the southern bus station is now located somewhere totally different?’

* * *

This is a common refrain by urban experts who seem to have spent on average 5 minutes in Tirana. There is a place for GPS systems of course. But what “modern” “European” city has no central bus station, nor time table, nor even a map of bus lines? How can a resident or visitor get to Vlore? or Ohrid? Or Athens? In this push for “smart” cities, we seem to have skipped over the basics – how can we pay for our bus tickets with an app when most bus lines don’t offer tickets and most residents don’t have credit cards?

55.

 

00055

Here is an idea for this headline: CAN WE IMAGINE TIRANA AS THE INCLUSIVE METROPOLIS OF ALL ALBANIAN CITIES AND CULTURES? It is the capital of Albania afterall. Seriously this schizophrenia of de-territorializing Tirana from Albania is disturbing.

* * *

the answer to this question is: it is impossible. i think, not because of lack of imagination, but the wording is all wrong, and i don’t mean the idea behind it, but the language doesn’t make sense to me. if it was asking if we can imagine a city as a melting pot that references, engages, even activates eastern and western or european and mediterranean, what have you cultures, then sure it could be a melting pot. now, in order for me to start thinking about how to do that, I’d first look into: can it (or does it) tolerate them? yes, no, maybe..whatever, then I’d compare its attitude toward an ethnic albanian, a person from any village, a person from north or south region, a person from eu, another from northern balkans, another from us, another from africa, a gypsy, an uneducated worker, and so on… how can we imagine it as an inclusive metropolis, when it does its best to offend what is already there? now these questions might be more philosophical than anyone bargains for, but they help us understand who we’re designing for and what kind of places we are creating. does that make sense? (just a general thought, no particular questions really)

56.

00056

I’m sorry, but is this question (of how to make Tirana an inclusive metropolic between Europe, the Mediterranean, and the ‘Islamic world’ (what exactly do you mean by this phrase?) serious? This way of framing the Balkans – as a ‘bridge’ between East and West – is already widespread. In fact, it is already a way that Albanian culture has been framed in terms of contemporary culture. So: what do you hope to gain from this? How will you avoid fetishizing the supposedly ‘liminal’ character of Tirana as a Balkan metropolis situated at this crossroads? I am not suggesting it can’t be done, but the way that you raise this issue AS IF it were a new goal suggests that you have not thought through the history of Orientalism and Balkanism. I’d like you to indicate that you HAVE thought it through, and won’t just repeat history.

* * *

Second comment: what kind of private capital do you want to attract to culture, and again – how will you avoid the privatization of art by the global culture industry? There is already a widespread critical discussion in fields as widespread as art history, anthropology, and so forth about the problems of private funding for cultural spaces, and here you present it as if it were totally unproblematic. Again: show that you understand that private funding comes with problematic consequences, and indicate ways that you will not fall into practices (regarding private funding of museum collections, the fetishization of peripheral states’ artistic production, the institutionalization of particular forms of art and the limitation of access due to privatization of cultural spaces, etc.) that have already been widely critiqued.

57.

00057

1. Why is inclusivity delineated along the lines of religious tolerance myth? Really I thought the concept of “bridge between east and west” had outgrown this silly suggestion. How does one compete in diversity? What a ridiculous idea. Come to Albania because we are have value added invested in manufacturing a myth of religious tolerance. One simply need remind the architects of the recent conflict over a plaque to dispel with this overblown religious tolerance crap.
2. I won’t even dignify the absurdity of this suggestion by taking it seriously. This IS POLICY being masked under a vision for city masterplan. Shameful to see this kind of pandering. Really try to see the city as a place not just a tactic for securing funding by capitalizing on the refugee crisis.
3. Tirana as a tax haven for art market speculation. Lovely! Just the kind of thing we want to be known for.

* * *

1. Let me play devil’s advocate here. Why shouldn’t we compete on diversity. Value is created by willingness to partake. Who cares if it’s a myth if what it promotes is at its base positive. Overblown? Yes! Potentially useful to us a city and nation? Definitely!

2 & 3. Not much I can add to make these comments more interesting :).

67.

00067

I’m sorry again–a blog? This is a facebook page. And it has not had an update since February 24, as far as I can tell.

70. 

00070

 

So: Piramida will be the creative laboratory? People are discouraged from climbing on it, much less contributing to it creatively. As a metaphor, this one is particularly inappropriate, unless you want to suggest that the project will be repainted shades of grey and youth will be discouraged from haptically interacting with it.

* * *

Is pure un-proffessional (infected) speculation on City Urban Regeneration

 

1 Koment

  1. Pershendetje, ne pergjigje te pyetjeve tuaja:

    Kete te Premte tek Hotel Tirana, nga ora 9:00, Arkitekte, Urbaniste, Ekonomiste, Punonjes Sociale, Planifikues te levizshmerise, Studente, Profesore dhe Qytetare do te mblidhen per te diskutuar dhe debatuar mbi Planin e Pergjithshem Vendor te Tiranes. Do te kete prezantime dhe tryeza te rrumbullaketa diskutimi mbi ceshtjet e meposhtme: Turizmi, Mjedisi, Bujqesia dhe Ushqimi, Rigjenerimi Urban, Infrastruktura, Mobiliteti, Zhvillimi Ekonomik, Qyteti Smart, dhe Kultura. Kjo eshte degjesa e konsultimi yne i pare publik per Planin e ndaj ftojme te gjithe mbeshtetesit ose kritiket tane te na bashkohen per te hartuar konstruktivisht draftin e ri te planit me ne.

    Shpresojme t’ju shohim aty.

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