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Tirana. Four materials with an impermanent title (*)

by Federico Zanfi

The last Regulatory Plan of Tirana started its investigation process in 1986, and was adopted in 1990: just when the urban planning culture of the country completed its most advanced tool, its upholding socio-economic system collapsed.
Consequently the infant Plan, with its load of previsions about the city’s future, experienced a lonely decade – the 90s were a time of brutal transformations: in only 13 years, the population of the Albanian capital triplicates, as its urban form explodes following unprecedented migration and speculation anxieties.
But this Plan, which to this day remains the only legally binding document, is now terminally ill, kept alive artificially and unable to provide support or solutions to the actual state of the city. Under the Plan’s reassuring and homogenous coloured zoning, under its area partitions marked by clear lines, there lies a variegated reality of self-organized micro-transformations which have inverted its consistency, often completely reversing all urban previsions. It is impossible to presume how, by only looking at the map, one could really understand the city’s real consistency.

In this sense, today Tirana lacks a representative image, which would depict its character and guide the transformation energies towards a shared course. Production, Housing, Public Space and Nature – the four inherent elements of the albanian capital, as its last Regulatory document predicts, have today a provisory and iridescent nature; to comprehend and describe them is the main bet that any new form of urban government will have to face.

(*) These notes are a re-edited version of the essay 'Tirana. Four materials with an impermanent title', written for Romano, Stefano, editor, 1.60 Insurgent Space. January 2005-September 2006, Tirana, European Cultural Foundation, to be published in spring 2008.

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