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TAW2016 Architecture and Urban COMPETITION

Transformations that matter

launch day / 15th september

deadline / 10th october at midnight UTC +1

announcement / coming soon

ceremony / coming soon

Tirana Architecture Weeks 2016 edition, architecture that matters, will focus on the intellectual cores of the discipline within a global and local perspective. This event, that already can be considered a tradition after 2 former very successful organizations, will last from the third week of September and will end gradually towards the end of October. As an Institution which is working on the idea of transformation (at the architecture, landscape and urban levels), this time we aim at creating the conditions for a discussion on architecture and design focused on its specific relevance.


Within TAW – Tirana Architecture Weeks, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Albania, we are glad to announce the International Competition of Architecture and Urban Ideas.

Tirana, an introduction to the city


Being the capital of Albania, with a metropolitan area of about 800,000 inhabitants, Tirana is the most important hub, where the political, economic and cultural life come all together. Living through a series of profound changes, the city is nowadays manifesting a very diverse atmosphere, where different generations are still present and have a loud presence, while confronting new trends of development.

The city itself is recognized for its own remarkable surrounding landscape and its organic origin dating back to the Ottoman Empire, although signs of an earlier human settlement existed a long time before that. This is considered as the “first” Tirana. Later on, events of considerable magnitude have occurred in its territory, which has considerably evolved through history.

The first phase of political and urban reforms in Tirana was undertaken from the date of its establishment as the capital of Albania in 1920, up to the fall of the “Berlin Wall” at the brink of the ‘90s. Many important transformations happened under the regimes of the “Monarchy” and “Centralized Economy”. Due to these interventions, free from any political and ideological prejudices, the city was transformed from a small town, to an “ordered” small city, which was a kind of pre-urbanization process. This could be considered as the era of the “new” Tirana, or the “second” Tirana. After that, Tirana entered a new development paradigm in the very early ‘90s: the introduction of the market economy and freedom of movement, which shook the temporarily sleeping entrepreneurial spirit of Albanians. Crowds of people and families relocated from the rural and remote areas, towards Tirana and other bigger cities. Initially this was totally out of any order, or logic of formal planning perspective, and this situation’s consequences are still present in the nowadays city.

But despite that, this huge extra-legal energy faced the “vacuum” of reactions and measures from the public authorities and institutions. During the last 15-20 years there exist at least two political projects that have been impacting the present-day development trends, and will continue to impact the future of Tirana. The first one has been the project of the former mayor of Tirana (now prime minister), Edi Rama (2000-2001) and the second is the project of the previous mayor Lulzim Basha (2001-2014).

The first political project is well-known for initiating a project-based process of city beautification and modernization, upgrading parts of the city, demolishing informal settlements in the city center, encouraging the cultural and artistic life of Tirana, and branding it internationally. This was done in a charismatic top-down approach and in a situation, where citizens had almost lost confidence and hope in positive developments.

The second political project is recognized for applying another strategy, which at first looked more modest in terms of public relations, but which was based instead on a more holistic and systematic approach. We can mention here, the drafting and approving of a regulatory plan for the city, the starting of a process of formalization of the extralegal assets, the introduction of low taxes, the encouraging of self-employment, the presentation of an easy-doing-business atmosphere, and the opening up of strategic infrastructure projects, with the objective of integrating the whole city structure in one living organism.

Under all of these major changes, and despite of a highly divided city in terms of political positioning, the city still remains under the pressure of constant development and dynamic changes, where different layers overlap, co-living and often also contradicting each other.

Transformations that matter, a competition of ideas


Within this contest we intend to focus on one of the many recent urban patterns of Tirana city, whose traits are generally identifiable under the informal label. We believe these features should be also regarded as a sign of vitality and as the result of the recent history of the city. Tirana’s layers, although passed through several traumatic moments, are still extremely visible and can reveal the specific sensitiveness of the people in their dwelling choices. Definitely, the bottom-up transformations can be realistic observed and investigated in these patterns.









We would avoid the usage of the word chaos in the description of these parts of the city. Even the word informal we believe should be refused in order to get a better understanding of the economical, anthropological and cultural values of this peculiar phenomenon. Yet, we would like to emphasize the proper ability of architects and planners in analyzing a phenomenon without prejudices, which means without having any idea before the formulation of a judgment. We aim, then, at analyzing and observing such pattern, by focusing on their specific spontaneous culture of building, as their unexpected anarchy, resulting in a continuous uninterrupted and clashing mixed urbanicity, without any desire to mediate with a specific city narrative.

The contest then, aims at assuming one of these patterns as the focus of an architectural/urban transformation. Since we insist on a free reading of the city, a design operation conducted according to the same criteria is necessary. We are looking for entries capable to underline the underlined, to propose idea that can be as much realistic as utopic, with the concern of the existing or without any respect of it.

We expect:

a program of activities inscribed within a narrative and a transformation of the proposed area. The transformation of the area is completely free, although it should matter, which means it should create a proper sense within the narrative proposed. Each category of intervention from a total demolition to a more based preservation approach is admitted.


Note: This is a fast, furious, and… glorious competition. It is not about rhetorical operations, it is more about ideas, debates, and thinking.



If you are a student or a professional, you can simply enter the competition submitting the requested material with a wetransfer to

before midnight of 10th october 2016 (UTC+1).


No preliminary registration is requested.


Working in team is allowed and encouraged, but it is necessary to choose one leader that will be the only official contact for future communication.




Projects will be evaluated by a team of local and international experts:


Sotir Dhamo / POLIS founder and administrator
Endrit Marku  / Metro_POLIS Architecture office Associated
Ledian Bregasi / President of the Albanian Union of Architects and Urban Planners

Herida Duro / Head of Artistic Creativity sector of Albanian Ministry of Culture

Alessandro Melis / Lecturer at University of Portsmouth

Antonino Di Raimo / Dean of the Faculty of Architecture Design and Engineering at Polis


go to the judges bio





1st prize / 150'000 Leke / 1100€

2nd prize / 100'000 Leke / 750€

3rd prize / 50'000 Leke / 350€


Honorable mentions will be attributed by the jury in a number proportion to the submitted projects.


All the winning and mention projects will be published in the official website, social networks and media partners and in the winter number of A+P magazine.


Publication of winners and honorable mentions will be avaible here on the 13th of october.





In the wetrasfer folder you will send please include

- the format panel in PDF format at 300dpi for printing format

- the format panel 84.1x84.1cm in PDF format at 72dpi for web announcement

- team and project description in .doc or PDF format

- signed copyright authorization in .doc or PDF format


Please do respect the format for provided in the material folder.

Materials that do not respect the format provided will determine the team exclusion from the competition.

In the panel there should not be references to the authors names and everything that can cause their identification. We remind you that the jury will receive the panels with a numeric code attributed following the submission order. Any signs that will allow the author identification will determine the team exclusion from the competition.





Please find here the competition material that include

- guide

- maps of the area (in .dwg)

- pictures of the area

- panel and description format

- copyright authorization to sign


for any doubt, do not hesitate to contact us at


a special thank to Gerdi Papa for the competition organization

copyright © Polis Universiteti / Tirana Architecture Weeks