Culture Quartet competition

Invited by Edi Rama’s Albanian Government to advise on the re-functioning of four historic buildings in Tirana, I am participating in a fascinating process investigating the potential of cultural programming to bring life to a collection of different but equally important buildings.

Each of the buildings; The Palace of Brigades, the National Historical Museum, the house of communist Dictator Enver Hoxha and the former Union of Writers, have unique histories but share the need for sensitive solutions. Through discussion with the Minister of Culture, Mirela Kumbaro, it was decided that rather than finding a purely architectural solution for the buildings, a curatorial concept could be sought to link the four buildings and to revitalize them through a programmatic proposal.

In collaboration with a small team of international architects and curators, a brief was written calling for responses to consider how to open the buildings and create a network of spaces dedicated to cultural production and consumption. The priority of the process has been to reopen the three buildings that remain closed to the public and to breathe life into the National Historical Museum.

Enver Hoxha villa interior

The buildings are sited within a 1km radius of one another and are framed as a ‘cultural quartet’. Atelier Albania launched a competition in November and after a process of short-listing, the team of experts met again at a jury to evaluate the presentations and to agree a winning team for each of the buildings. The brief itself was a challenging call for restoration, cultural programming and strategic architectural solutions. The jury ultimately awarded prizes for two of the buildings in the quartet; The Union of Writers and the National Historical Museum. The villa of Enver Hoxha and The Palace of Brigrades, arguably the most sensitive of the quartet, will be reassessed and a new brief will be considered. The intention must be to lovingly restore and thoughtfully revitalize these amazing buildings.

Palace of Brigades, courtyard and gardens