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Importance of Public Spaces in a Neighbourhood of Tirana

Abstract

Public spaces are a significant benefit for our communities. They provide many opportunities for people to get together and interact with each other. If public spaces are effective, they can create a social place for all to participate in society. The word “public space,” is a very old expression which was mostly referred to as urban space, but now in the modern era it is known as a concept with clear definition. The evolution of this term is well known in Tirana, especially in recent projects, due to its constant development. The first efforts occurred in 1914, but there was no real concept of public space by that time, which was subsequently influenced by the culture of the people. Since then, public spaces have changed a lot in Tirana by recreating the idea of “general use.” There are many examples of squares, streets and parks that have been through the change process over the years, affecting the lives of residents. The main focus is given to large public spaces, while public spaces in neighbourhoods are left aside. The potential of these public spaces in neighbourhoods has not been explored sufficiently. The main objective of this study is uncovering the importance of public spaces in a neighbourhood of Tirana and proposing some small-scale interventions that would revitalize this neighbourhood. This research examines how small public spaces in the urban public space and landscape can cause transformation and how informal community-driven concepts will catalyze a neighbourhood that need revitalization. As a result of this study, possible alternatives could be tested improving and revitalizing the neighbourhood and residents’ quality of life.

Keywords: public spaces, neighbourhood revitalization, tactical urbanism, small scale urbanism, urban acupuncture

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Acknowledgements
  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures
  • Chapter 1
    • Introduction
    • 1.1       Problem Statement
    • 1.2       Research objective, Scope And Limitations
    • 1.3       Methodology
      • 1.3.1. Literature Review
      • 1.3.2. Study Area
      • 1.3.3. Observations
      • 1.3.5. Data Processing
  • Chapter 2
    • Theoretical Background
    • 2.1       Public Spaces
    • 2.2       Neighbourhood Public Spaces – Uses And Value
    • 2.1
    • 2.2
    • 2.3       Neighbourhood Revitalization By Urban Acupunture
    • 2.4       Tactical Urbanism
    • 2.5       Case Studies
      • 2.5.1. Finding Opportunity In Emptiness – Case of Zaragoza, Spain
      • 2.5.2. Case Study: Spare Life, Pocket Gardens
      • 2.5.3 Case Study: Dispersione Zero In Sasari, Italy
    • 2.6       Principles of Planning A Successful Neighbourhood
      • 2.6.1. The Nolli Map
      • 2.6.2. Figure-Ground Relationship Theory
      • 2.6.3. A Pattern Languag
  • Chapter 3
    • Context of Tirana
    • Site Analysis
    • 3.1       Tirana’s Public Spaces Evolution
    • 3.2.      Analysis of Urban Sustainability Principles In The Site
  • Chapter 4
    • Results And Discussions
  • Chapter 5
  • Conclusions
    • 5.1 Conclusions
    • 5.2 Recommendations For Future Research
  • Appendix 

 

Chapter 1

Introduction

The word “public space,” mostly being referred to as urban space, is a very old expression, but was used during the modern era as a concept with a clear definition. The evolution of this term is well known in Tirana, especially in recent projects, due to its constant development. The first efforts occurred in 1914, but there was no real concept of public space by that time, which was subsequently influenced by the culture of the people. Since then, public spaces have changed a lot in Tirana by recreating the idea of “general use”.

Nowadays, larger public areas attract attention and care, while small spaces within neighbourhoods are left aside. Large urban planning projects either do not properly address the needs of public space in different neighbourhoods or are too unmanageable to be fruitful. Often happens that inhabitants do not have the social or economic tools to draw attention to their needs.

Our neighborhoods benefit tremendously from shared spaces. They offer many opportunities for people to meet and interact. If public spaces are effective, they can create a social place for all to participate in society. This affects how people interact in the public space and how they respond to each other and space. Giving people opportunities to meet new people in shared spaces is crucial because it affects on the sociability of public space. Many of these neighbourhood public spaces have great architectural and social value when being shared, but they are not explored to their fullest potential.

In response to the problem, this study will explore the potential for small, public areas in a neighbourhood of Tirana, that can revitalize them. An important element of this study will be a research analysis into different theories of public space theories, tactical urbanism, neighbourhood revitalization and how they have affected nowadays developments in the world. This study on public spaces with special focus on revitalization of neighbourhood public spaces, will be followed by an evolution on public spaces of Tirana, Albania. The next step will be about some case studies that will not only be shown for research purposes but also for providing new ideas and concepts that will later be used to solve the issues these public spaces in the neighbourhood have. Furthermore, there will be a chapter for neighbourhood analyzing through sketches, diagrams and investigation of the site. In the end there will be a proposal through tactical and small-scale urbanism in order to revitalize the shared spaces in the neighbourhood.

1.1         Problem Statement

Many countries and cities around the world are losing major opportunities for growth by avoiding and mismanaging public spaces. There are major opportunities and potentials for better use of public spaces to reveal the hidden values that they generate for neighborhoods and whole cities. Neighbourhood public spaces are very important elements that improve quality of space and life. City of Tirana has a considerable amount of these public spaces within neighbourhoods, but their potential is not explored. These small spaces should not be neglected, but observed together and used as a tool to improve the design of unutilized spaces in a neighbourhood.

Unfortunately, as time goes by, these neighbourhoods have ascended to become less and less integrated to the rest of the city and they are losing their cultural and historical identity. While being left aside, the public spaces in these neighbourhood have been forgotten and their potential has not been explored to its fullest.

To have a better understanding on neighbourhood public space small scale revitalization, some specific questions are needed;

-Can we revitalize Public Spaces of these neighbourhoods without losing their identity and using small scale interventions?

-What is their actual state?

-What potentials do these shared spaces have?

-How can we revitalize them while preserving their local character?

-How can small‐scale design interventions catalyze the revitalization of existing state?

-How can the proposed designs promote social diversity?

-How can the application of Urban Acupuncture be successful in order to revitalize these neighborhoods?

1.2         Research Objective, Scope and Limitations

This research has a set of objectives where the main focus will be public spaces in one of Tiranas neighbourhoods. The main objective for this research is to fully study this neighbourhood the area around it in order to analyze its social and physical dimensions, its potential and to generate some concepts, ideas and strategies that will help in neighbourhood revitalization. The goal is to not only to promote strategies that deal with the physical aspects of these public open spaces, but also ideas that will increase the social interaction between community members. This research includes a study of issues of underutilized public spaces in neighbourhood, by analyzing in detail a neighbourhood of Tirana. Nan Ellin says “from ‘less is more’, to ‘more is more’ the by word has become ‘more from less’” (Ellin, 2006). This statement explains very well the evolution of theories on urban design. This new theory, ‘more from less’, suggests that a greater impact can be made from smaller spaces with few budgets. Possible alternatives will be tested to revitalize this neighbourhood by using small-scale interventions. The proposed project will be represented through different strategies, conceptual drawings, maps, diagram, collages and design of specific areas in these neighbourhoods.

This research attempts to explore new ideas and acupunctural approach to give a solution to specific problems and issues that this shared space has. The author will not propose solution for every problem that this neighbourhood has but, there will be small-scale proposals for shared spaces with great potential for the community. This study does not show new theories on how to design public spaces in neighbourhoods. Its main aim is to help and guide the community, build a process on how to improve their lives by improving the environment they live in.

The site is chosen as a pilot project. The author intends to help and guide people use the same techniques and manners, so they can use them in their own neighbourhoods throughout the city.

1.3         Methodology

The methodology used for this thesis will be qualitative and quantitative research as both of them are needed to fulfill the aim of this study (Table 1). Below there is a description of main instruments used for conducting information for this research. The first part will be based on secondary research and after going through a thorough study of the literature background, the research will continue with the second part which consist on more of an exploratory research through detailed site analysis, in order to have a clear definition of the problems occurring on the site.

Table 1. Methodology

Methodology Instruments
Quantitative Research Literature Review/Theoretical Background

Masterplans

Current Maps

Old pictures of the site

Qualitative Research Site Surveys: photographs, sketching, analysis, diagrams

Site investigation and analysis

1.3.1. Literature Review

Literature review is a really important section of this research. During this study, it was realized that an excellent analysis was carried out once a strong theoretical basis is established.  This important part of methodology will deal with literature review form different authors, theories and key concepts dealing with public spaces, small-scale revitalization.  The main themes studied, cover public spaces theories, neighbourhood revitalization, tactical urbanism, small scale design, urban acupuncture, pattern language, sustainable neighbourhood planning and more. This literature is based on many scholars such as Christopher Alexander, Kevin Lynch, Jan Gehl, Jane Jacobs etc.

1.3.2. Study Area

In this research, the study area was based on several criterias which best accomplish the final scope. The site chosen by the author is located between three historical axis of Tirana which are “Dibra” Road, “Bardhyl” Road and “Qemal Stafa” Road. This block represents one of the oldest areas of Tirana and it was chosen by the author because it represents the following conditions:

  1. Located near city center
  2. Located between the most important axis of Tirana
  3. Local values
  4. Oldest residential neighbourhood
  5. Possibility for acupunctural intervention
1.3.3. Observations

The first phase was a detailed study of the chosen site. After the study of the site through different maps, several site visits were made in order to have a full understanding of the actual state in the neighbourhood. Series interviews with the inhabitants were made in order to have more detailed information about the way they experience they everyday life in the neighbourhood. It was crucial to understand their problems and difficulties in that space, so that some research questions were to be raised and answered during the research. All site visits include photographic documentation. Observation of the site in different hours and days of the week were crucial to experience everyday life in the site and understand the behaivour of inhabitants in relation to the space.

1.3.4. Case Study

In this thesis, there are also mentioned some similar case studies from other countries that were selected based on these criteria:

  1. The human scale approaches
  2. Huge impact on the neighbourhood through small scale design
  3. Low cost projects
  4. Revival of public life
  5. Community based design

1.3.5. Data Processing 

Data Processing was focused on both physical and social dimensions of the neighbourhood (Table 2).

Table 2. Data Processing Elements

Physical Dimensions Social Dimensions
Hinterland Ground Floor Activities
Pattern Analysis Public/Private
Street Network Analysis Active Facade
Public Transport Analysis of distances on site
Outer Extension of businesses 
Greenery Analysis
Street Edge Analysis

Analysis regarding these dimensions are shown through graphics, photos, sketches, maps etc.

Chapter 2

Theoretical Background

2.1         Public Spaces

With the Industrial Revolution and the fast urbanization that followed it, people began to recognize the need for public spaces. Urban growth and the population density in the Industrial City in the late 19th and early 20th centuries made it almost impossible to access public spaces, as the environment grew bigger and denser (Sadeghi, 2016). Modern planners and urban reformers saw this migration from the countryside of the population as a social evil, as well as very dangerous for public health (Y. Rofè, 2011). They assumed that it was necessary to have merest of accessible public space for children to engage and interact, so that people could have some contact with environment and find comfort away from the stressful daily life (Billig, 2005). With city planning codification worldwide, minimum standards have been developed to allocate public spaces of varying sizes and scales and to regulate their distribution in relation to residential areas. (Y. Rofè, 2011). Understanding of the value of quality of living and rediscovery of shared spaces in city environments has led to several initiatives aimed at improving the human aspect of everyday life, promoting social activities and greater public engagement in the urban spaces. Significant restraint and the disappearance of pedestrian spaces and public life, led to further social isolation. That provides a wide variety of pleasant public activities to promote the efficiency of pedestrian areas, aimed at combining privacy with effective public service.

The recognition and use of the diversity of new possibilities within the city’s public life demonstrates the important role of the pedestrian and public spaces in the urban lives of a community (Ghel, 2011). Only the bare minimum of activity takes place in streets and urban areas of poor quality. In this case people want to leave and hurry home. A completely different, broad spectrum of human activities is possible in a good environment. Every single city has its own identity that is made of its public spaces. Gillian Rose believed that uniqueness of identity connects to a place whenever you feel like you belong to that place. Such a place is a place where you feel comfortable staying there (Rose, 1995). A public space should give you a safety and friendly feeling and should have a good image to the passer by or community. Jackson describes the usage of sense of place as an atmosphere which its environment should attract and give you a feeling of well being that makes you return to that place again (Jackson, 1994). With regard to the use of urban public spaces, Henri Lefebvre agrees that space should not be seen only as a physical place, but as an entity created by society; how space is created, experienced and by whom. The unitary theory of Lefebvre combines three areas in which we deal: physical (natural), mental and social (Lefebvre, 1991). A number of European and US architects and city-planners researched the connection between urban construction, architecture and man as a result of social contact from the perspective of perceptions and interpretation, in order to create active public life in the city.

Public spaces support various daily activities that highlight community public spaces’ attractiveness (Ghel, 2011). As society is evolving and changing over time, the established physical structure and physical limitations have conflict with that of the need for more flexible spaces to support various types of everyday social interaction. In Life Between Buildings, Jan Ghel cites that there is a strong relationship between design and activities. He agreed that urban design may influence the number of public space users, the sort of project and, in particular, the duration with certain regional, climate and social restrictions.

In any urban community, public space is an integral part of the city. Public   spaces are significant in enhancing the quality of life and urban spaces by providing a community and its people with civic, cultural, economic and environmental benefits. With the population increasment, the demand for afordable housing increased. These and land grabing have contributed in lack of adequate number of shared spaces. Some of the existing shared spaces are poorly designed while most of them lack recreational amenities to support a good quality, pleasant social life that an urban open space is envisioned to. Recreational activities like walking, seating or standing places are either inadequate or not comfortable to use and, in most cases, unable to meet people’s demand. Such shared spaces inevitably lack an aspect that attracts attention of people. Further, insecurity caused by the lack of amenities like appropriate lighting, lack of monitoring of open areas, inaccessibility or a lack of open space maintenance and the felt unfriendly shape and greenery in certain of these open places makes them unattractive for the social and emotional use. Public space is the space we share with others, individuals who are not our family, acquaintances or work colleagues (Walzer, 1986). The public space is then known as a square within a community that is open and used by all residents. The public area is important as it affects the town through proximity and accessibility for the development of sustainable towns. Public spaces need something in their architectural structure that helps one to recognize them from their surroundings as a visible and familiar location.

A public space is defined as a place that is accessible to any classes or groups and provides freedom, property and temporary right (Francis, 2012). These are areas that residents and visitors can enter with equal rights and there tend to be fewer restrictions compared to other areas. In fact, there are also unexpected and unplanned events occurring in them. People interact with each other; they walk about, or they rest, and they watch others as well. Users of these spaces feel joy and a sudden surprise; exercising, wandering, chatting and interacting, playing and even having a break. There is no simple difference between observers and providers. They ‘re all on the stage, and they’re part of the audience (Shojaee, 2014). Such environments include streets, paths, courts, fields, parks, playgrounds, town halls, shopping malls, beaches, as well as other aggregational fields.

Jane Jacobs discusses emerging cities and districts that fulfill the basic needs of citizens, provide productive activities on the ground floor and offer people spaces (Jacobs, 1961). Jan Gehl is another Denmark-based scholar, urban planner focused on making cities for people that also argues that the active ground floor is one of the most important elements of vibrant cities. Shops, cafés, playgrounds, parks and other activities are all places that you want to live in in towns and neighborhoods (Ghel, 2011). Kevin Lynch is also a scholar who discusses city design theory and how to deal with this issue. Good City Forms (1984) is the book in which Lynch argues that cumulative decisions in a town have a number of factors which influence the development of cities. We must see every lace as a social, biological and physical entire, according to Lynch. But we need to understand their parts to see things as wholes (Lynch, 1984). For this purpose, the study of cities and regeneration approaches will continue with the analysis of the smallest elements of a city: neighborhoods. The “neighbourhood unit” is a key concept in town organization. Neighborhoods will effectively serve as catalysts for transforming communities. A slight change in the community (the cells of cities) can impact city life as subtle elements of a structure. Nevertheless, improvements must be positive and equally compatible. Gehl (2010) suggests that neighbourhoods will serve as key hubs, where each has their own identity and they all come together to create a small, interconnected community.

2.2         Neighbourhood Public Spaces – Uses and Value

The arguments generally proposed to explain the provision of public spaces are: value for the older people and the growth of children, public health and social needs, cultural needs-open spaces in the city function as a meeting place, and various cultural events as concerts, market places, different fairs etc. as well as a place to show art; enhancement of urban microclimate – reducing the effect of urban heat islands, ventilation, sunlight access and oxygen replenishment; environmental benefits-noise reduction and air pollution and reducing their psychological impact (Jackson, 2003). Changes in business opperating strategies and practices, the centralization and distancing of new companies from local zones and the growing collapse of public bodies, especially local authorities, have led to a degradation of  usage and privatization of the public space (Williams, 2001). This phenomenon has led to increased concern around the world for public space (Hebbert, 2008). Therefore, found in between the need to reduce urban expansion and the need to move, a more compact urban model is being pursued which questions the standards defined, but still needs to generate some alternative ways to ensure the required public spaces are developed (Neuman, 2005). By Neighborhood Public Spaces, we apply to the entire unbuilt land structure within the neighborhood boundary and to what is relatively close to it. These involve three common categories of space: green spaces that are mostly unpaved and permeable, public spaces that are paved spaces used for community and economic purposes, and gray spaces that contain paved fields that have been abandoned for non-pedestrial traffic, parking lots, parks or previously built fields (Feierstein, 2011). The sense of belonging to a community is the key to every individual’s health and social well-being. Quality spaces tend to promote a feeling of belonging. Designing shared spaces not only for children but also for local community to get together and socialize can promote a new level of well-being in a society, social group or neighborhood.

Williams and Green (2001) have their theories on the values which makes public spaces fruitful. Some of the above virtues are: nature, consistency and enclosure spatial efficiency, accesiibility, adaptability, and versatility. Public Spaces Project, a New York-based NGO dedicated to creating and enhancing the public sphere in cities, identifies four key features for large public spaces: sociability, uses and events, connectivity and interconnections, comfort and picture (Spaces P. f., 2000). Some authors claim that public space analysis relies on the interest people have in it.  It is quite significant the fact that about one-third of a city’s land area is covered by public spaces; starting from streets, neighbourhood squares to public facilities, such as libraries and small markets. If the planning, financing and managing of public spaces is done with a special focus on people and community, this will uncover every cities potentials on increasing the quality of life and creating a special everyday experience on the neighbourhood (Wahba, 2020).

2.3         Neighbourhood Revitalization by Urban Acupunture

Rapid changes in the city have an impact on urbanity, economics and property. Priorities such as land use, accessibility, climate, need to be rearranged and improved within the strategic framework of architecture. The holistic approach of acupuncture methods and micro-grids allows us to adapt to the challenges of the 21st century and to question the preparation and design of modern infrastructures. Strategic small-scale solutions are seen as the primary generators of emerging spatial structures and activities. This is a theory and a methodology for tackling the problem of contemporary urban planning, which requires a process of urban architecture that transfers from the micro to the macro. The concept of urban acupuncture is not exactly modern. The principle was first developed in the 1960s, and it has been implemented in South America and South Europe. None is aware about the principle itself. There is a lack of scientific resources to explain and support the urban accupunture concept. There are lots of scholars, as K. Frampton and N. Ellin who note the concept of urban accupunture in their papers, but neither do they go beyond a brief description. Others, like the British architect A. Parsons (Parsons, 2011) have tried to describe the theory of urban acupuncture, but their papers focus on the examples of the founders of the theory.

Many western authors, such as Lewis Mumford, Jane Jacobs, Paul Davidoff, E.F. Schumacher, Christopher Alexander, Allan Jacobs and Donald Appleyard, have talked about the importance of public spaces. Researchers discovered that public spaces contribute to improving the life quality standards (Shidan, 2011). It provides a large selection of opportunities for recreational and social interaction, meeting and event venues. In addition, it leads to promoting economic growth and strengthens the image of the city. Efficient public spaces, however, do not exist on their own. Different factors should be examined in order to build sustainable and productive public spaces. It was these same authors who promoted smaller-scale development approaches. The planning of public space in the twentieth-century was mostly large-scale and designed for future decades. This strategic preparation has also collided with an ever-increasing challenge. Permanence is no longer desirable in this age of time, when changes take place at an accelerated pace (Ellin, 2006).

During the past years, there are some important personalities that dealt with the philosophy of urban acupunture. Manuel de Solà-Morales, a spanish architect wrote his first ideas on urban accupunture in the Frampton Manifesto. De Solà-Morales started implementing his first projects around the 1970. Another figure concerned with urban acupuncture is the Brazilian Jaime Lerner who presented how he applies this theory in his projects, in one of his TED conferences in 2007 (Lerner, 2007). At last, the Finnish architect Marco Casagrande is one of the latest noted architects that has revived the concept of urban acupuncture. The origins of the term are connected to the technique of acupuncture: therefore, to apply pressure at specific points of the body to treat illness or to relieve illness. Urban acupuncture also recognizes locations that need to be rehabilitated; locations are selected on the basis of broader social, ecological and economic analysis and through engagement with the local community (Billig, 2005). Urban acupuncture, like the practice of body regeneration, is a procedure intended to cure the ‘body’ of the urban environment. Small-scale interventions in the urban environment are socially catalytic; they activate relief energy flows by reacting to community needs. In other words, the revitalization of the whole area is achieved by managing and rebuilding the comprising elements (strategic points). This is basically a sustainability plan focused on catalytic, small-scale projects, which can be executed in a fairly limited timeline and capable of making the greatest effect in the surrounding environment. If social interaction with the centralized social environment frequently is confined to the public space alone, the idea of ‘urban acquuncture’ may be translated into the ‘public acupuncture,’ which may be defined by individual and coordinated minor initiatives as an efficient strategic strategy for the regeneration of the public area of the city and its civic existence.

The book “Acupunctura Urbana” was published by Lerner in 2003. In the introduction to this book he explains that with a needle stick he always had the feeling and the expectation that an illness might be healed. This pin aims in a sick or painful way to recovers strength. In this way he shows the relation between people and cities. He cites that many cities nowadays are sick. Therefore, they need an acupuntural treatment. In his book, he shows that his main goal is to cure flows of energy on sick or painful areas by revitalizing the area. He therefore sees cities made from a skin, an urban skin. He debates that the sting of a needle is designed to revitalize this point and its surroundings in acupuncture technique. The medication then induces a patient response and therefore involves a doctor-patient relationship. Lerner states that the city should also react in urban planning. In urban areas the diseased or painful places are located. This techniques should enhance and heal the reactions in the city through urban planning (Mang, 2009).

2.4         Tactical Urbanism

French ethnologist Michel de Certeau was the first person to mention the word ‘tactic’. According to him, ‘tactic’ means a calculus which cannot count on a proper (Certeau, 1984). McFarlane, a professor at Durhan University says that tactic is an interpretation resource that is put to work through everyday urban resilience (2011). The ‘Tactic’ interpolates itself into the space, without being seized as a whole. ‘Tactics’ work from the bottom-up approach, employing developing layouts in the finer scales within an experimental, adaptive, temporary or cognitive manner which influences smaller metropolitan locations, which have potential to impact positively on the urban system (King, 2012). Other scholars have seen thi procedure as an effective method to instigate mandatory developments from the urban fabric of a city (Hou, 2010).

Bottom-up approaches, such as tactical urbanism, support top-down frameworks to improve technologies as they exit in environments that allow experimentation to have a broader impact (Westley, 2011). This encourages all the residents to engage in the using and shaping of the urban spaces (Purcell, 2008). Tactical urbanism is the ultimate response of our natural human senses: progressive and self-directed behaviour on many problems such as general sustainability, rising social capital and economic development. Such senses are characterized as macro-scale approaches that make it easier to rely on the successful growth of the built environment, such as buildings and roads, in addition to micro-scale techniques that involve the observance of entertainment, commerce and arts.

Streets are perceived to be the foundation and the key source of public area, and thus, citizen-led urbanism’s sprit in the reiterated process of creating the necessary needs of urban street (Lyndon, 2012). Tactical urbanism offers an opportunity to test new ideas until a multitude of local actors make important financial or political commitments, maybe they are acceptable, maybe not. There are new opportunities everywhere to apply Tactical Urbanism techniques, from the most basic things on our everyday life. Guerrilla gardens, street signs,shared streets for everyone are examples of temporary urban intervention. More comfortable, vibrant or fun areas of the city can be reached by low-cost initiatives (Lyndon, 2012). In many cities nowadays, the interest tactical urbanism and how it reshapes urban spaces, is growing.

 Cities across the globe are currently employing shortterm and advanced projects to advertise long-term goals relevant to street safety, public space, and more. Also known as DIY Urbanism, Planning-by-Doing, Urban Acupuncture, or Urban Prototyping, this approach refers to a city, organizational, or citizen-led approach to neighborhood building that uses short-term, low-cost, and scalable interventions to catalyze long-term change. Tactical Urbanism initiatives have the shared aim of using low-cost resources to innovate and gain insight into future street design improvements. Tactical Urbanism has become a worldwide phenomenon in the last decade, bringing about a significant change in the way cities think about the creation and implementation of projects. Tactical urbanism is often used to refer to low-cost, temporary interventions that improve local neighborhoods (Dube, 2009). Mike Lydon et al. (2012) describe tactical urban planning as intervention with the below characteristics:

  • “A deliberate, phased approach to instigating change.”
  • “Offering alternative approaches to urban infrastructure issues.”
  • “Short-term commitment and realistic expectations.”
  • “Low-risks, with a potential high profit.”
  • “The creation of social capital between people and the building of organizational capability between public-private entities, non-profit organizations and constituents.”

Art, designer and activist agency Rebar describes tactical urban planning as the use of small or temporary public space changes to seed incremental environmental transformation (Rebar, 2014). They note that “The usage of tactics is focused on the assumption that deep organizational systems (social, political, economic, cultural and other) have a two-way connection with the physical world: both produce and reproduce the system.” (Merker, 2010).

2.5         Case Studies

2.5.1. Finding Opportunity in Emptiness – Case of Zaragoza, Spain

The region of Zaragoza, situated halfway between Barcelona and Madrid, was hit hard by global economic downturn. Unemployment had been at an all-time peak, housing prices had fallen, and massive civil discontent has now erupted right below the surface for a while. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to demand fair jobs, more aid and a radically new political structure. Also, in the face of this turmoil, and amid a shortage of shared services and ideals, a coalition of developers, leaders, civic groups and government departments saw a chance to come together and create fresh possibilities for the area and its residents. And the approach started with their public areas. Since its creation in 2009, ‘Estonoesunsolar’ has applied an ambitious system of urban acupuncture’ in Zaragoza, Spain, which has transformed most of the underutilized vacant areas in the region into a network of open public spaces. In 33 projects implemented across the city since the beggining, more than 42000 square meters of unused area throughout Zaragoza, and more than 60 citizens ‘ groups have cooperated throughout the process. (ESTONOESUNSOLAR, 2015)

Estonoesunsolar did not start as an architecture scheme but as a scheme to decrease unemployment through which the municipal housing office was eventually able to address concerns about the multiple and unsightly vacant lots in the area. Sixty-one workers were hired over a six-month period for cleaning up the empty sites. Due to the fact that it was very successful, the comitees that were part of this organization, aimed to take the project further by revitalizing many of the unused spots for public use. From here, ‘Estonoesunsolar’, which would be run by the Municipal Housing Society and the architects Patrizia Di Monte and Ignacio Grávalos, began to emerge after receiving plans from a network of developers, societies and neighborhood groups (Spaces P. P., 2015).

Figure 1. San Pablo Botanical Garden. (MACKENZIE, 2015)

Figure 2. The site after the application of tactical urbanism

Estonoesunsolar was focused in particular firstly on temporary approaches, and this impermanence was embedded in the structure and architecture of each location. The first project converted the vacant lot of San Pablo into a vertical garden and an expansive green area. The question goes beyond the basic esthetics because, in reality, they have developed a connection between their weak physical features because of their degrading social and cultural life. Di Monte says that public space is strongly connected with its social dimensions and it is impossible to be interpreted apart from each other. There was a festival organized for the urban art of Zaragoza, En la Frontera, where the participants could test their ideas on empty pockets of the city.

“We see design and urbanism as a means of creating a network that can generate multiple routes, intersections and experiences,” describes Di Monte. “And that was one of the program’s key premises: to explore spaces that can become places. ” (Monte, 2015)

The pilot phase of ‘Estonoesunsolar’, which took place from July to December 2009, implemented immediate, scalable and low-cost projects at 14 locations, both public and private, within the historic center of Zaragoza. Using traditional lighter, quicker, cheaper approaches, unused plots is repurposed into urban parks and straightforward green spaces, children’s playgrounds and street bowling courts for older residents in the neighbourhood.

Figure 3. Phase One.

Once each intervention was accomplished in this first step, the location is colorfully labelled and highlighted on a diagram, highlighting the theme of accessibility and communication that was important for the initial intervention. The ideas and uses for each location would come from a set of consultations with government officials, civic associations, investors and local stakeholders with each of them focused on social and environmental concerns of the metropolitan region. This emphasis on public participation and citizen interaction at any point became the most important component of its continuing growth. The project begins with “a collective desire to function in a micro-scale,” remarks Di Monte, but “each step further from operating autonomously generates a network of small events that together can have a greater effect and influence on the whole community.”

The City Council agreed to start the plan in 2010 centered upon the progress of these first steps, by extending to 14 new sites around Zaragoza, not just the Old Town. Such projects were marginally larger, including steps to build a walkway along the Ebro River, for example, and recently constructed parks and squares that include permanent amenities such as drainage and lighting. Because 2010 initiatives were scattered across the area, the emphasis was no longer on the similarity between sites and thus each site is identified rather than counted with its spatial alignment, rendering it available from the Google eye alone.”

Figure 4. Phase Two. In this second step of the project, it became a means of playing with new approaches to behave in the community – to evaluate various methods that could be seen as an option to an urbanism that went too far from the city.

Figure 5. San Augustine park. This 500-meter property, with a limited budget, was transformed into a park, a centre for all-age sports and multiple use locations.

Each re-designeated site embraces the idea of introducing new activities and educational opportunities such as outdoor cinema, dance classes, festivals or even childrens painting.

  Figure 6. The site after the application of tactical urbanism

Figure 7. The site after the application of tactical urbanism

Throughout her understanding of the metropolitan city as a complex network of people, locations, and backgrounds, Patrizia Di Monte is also worried that the emptying of the spaces of a community “have resulted in the loss of public memories and the erasure of important connections” between a location and its unique identity. “Every vacuum— each’ dead space’—produces a separation that disrupts urban life’s continuous murmur,” she describes. However, there is also a space within that emptiness to imagine “alternative possibilities”— different mindsets about how cities are developed, planned and experienced. Estonoesunsolar is a display of these “alternative possibilities,” and however transient or inexpensive each individual intervention taken together this network of transformed public spaces has become a powerful vehicle for community participation, social cohesion, and a revival of public life in Zaragoza’s historic city.

Figure 8. The site after the application of tactical urbanism

Figure 9. The site after the application of tactical urbanism

2.5.2. Case Study: SpaRe Life, Pocket Gardens

In September 2019, Epoka University in Albania organized a workshop where participants could have a full-time experience of learning, researching and designing that provides an opportunity to reflect on the multi-scale urban regeneration of the informal fabric in the capital city Tirana, considering “informality” as a possible added value in both the development and the transformation of the real city, through: The practice of Urban Planning and Space Design, of Architectural Design and Technology, of Design for Public Spaces and Facilities; The application of the next theories and models of micro/small interventions for the shared urban spaces regeneration; The on-field experience and citizens’ involvement through the socio-cultural animation of the area and the erection of micro/small outdoors installations. (SpaReLife, 2019).

The aim of the workshop was to reach a vision concept for an ephemeral regeneration on the way of the most recent experiences, such as Tactical Urbanism, Pop-Up Designing, Guerrilla Urbana, Acupuncture Urbanism and so on. This Summer School represents a different point of view on current city planning and rebuilding. It is also, and mostly, an attempt to introduce new principles of city planning and designing even if temporary, transitory, flexible, reversible, low-cost and moderate. It also provided an opportunity to rethink small public areas, organic streets and roads, micro-economic and energy alternatives, connected in the context of a specific structure to increase public soft mobility, to improve the quality of urban life, to improve social and physical stability and to highlight the many roles that “inner precincts” would play in the urban body of Tirana.

The approach used by the work-teams was based on a diachronic and systematic study of the local spatial context, focusing in particular on the nature of the space-time relationship with the Metropolis. Working groups have interpreted the approach-to this form of urban development-as an environmental and cultural context of the method of understanding local social relations within the territorial and landscape components.  

Figure 10. Map showing the site (SpaReLife, 2019)

The sites were located in the area between three really important axis in Tirana. The site was chosen in a historical and strategic area for the development of Tirana city since 1925.

Figure 11. Map showing the chosen spots (SpaReLife, 2019)

The whole workshop was organized in a way where the theoretical part and practical one merged together during the process. Key topics during the theoretical part were:

  • Space Design & Urban Planning Architectural Design
  • Participated Designing
  • Landscape Design
  • Nature Based Solutions for Urban Challenges
  • Resilient Cities
  • Public Space & Facility Design
  • Social Streets Invasion
  • Historical Heritage Enhancement
  • Urban Metabolism
  • Enhancement of tangible and intangible identity heritage
  • Management plans and models

Figure 12. Brainstorming session (SpaReLife, 2019)

First Phase consisted on a site visit where the students could experience the space for the first time and chose a possible spot. After each group had a brainstorming session showing the qualities of their site.

The next phase is the site investigation an analysis of physical and social dimension of  the spots. All the findings and analysis were to be presented to all other group members (exhibition like) so everyone gets familiar with other sites. After their experience on the site and the informal interviews with the residents, each group had to present their first proposal on what needed to be changed on the site.       

Figure 13. Site analysis and first proposals presentation (SpaReLife, 2019)

After the presentation to organizing commite, proffesors and other members, the posters with first proposals were to be hanged at each site so community members nearby each spot could see what the proposals where and have their word if they wanted anything else to be changed nearby the spots. The community involvement was very important part throughout the whole process. Community-focused actions have occurred to be one of the essential character of tactical urbanism.

Importance of Public Spaces in a Neighbourhood of Tirana

Figure 14. First proposals posters hanged at each site (SpaReLife, 2019)

After each presentation, each group went through long discussions with other members of the group and community in order to achieve a full detailed proposal that was going to be installed physically at the sites.

Importance of Public Spaces in a Neighbourhood of Tirana

Figure 15. Day one of site work (SpaReLife, 2019)

All materials used on the site were recycable materials found on university campus spaces or on abandoned sites nearby each spot.

Importance of Public Spaces in a Neighbourhood of Tirana

Figure 16. Residents helping with the implementation

Importance of Public Spaces in a Neighbourhood of Tirana

Figure 17. Project implementation, final day (SpaReLife, 2019)

Importance of Public Spaces in a Neighbourhood of Tirana

Figure 18. Project implementation, final day (SpaReLife, 2019)

Community involvement was crucial throughout the whole process. Participants and residents shared their ideas together. They helped with materials and tools that they owned, helped with the implementation and when through every phase together.

2.5.3 Case Study: Dispersione Zero in Sasari, Italy

The Dispersione ZERO project was launched with funds from a request to tackle the problem of high school drop-out rates by the Ministry of Education, University and Research. The research included a group of approximately 20 students (aged between 11 and 13 years) with a high chance of leaving school in the Monte Rosello Alto area. The students participated in a project that contributed to the renovation of a large underused sidewalk, an inhospitable walking area situated along the path that links one of the main streets of the district to the secondary street where the school’s main entrance is positioned.

Importance of Public Spaces in a Neighbourhood of Tirana

Figure 19. Implementation of Dispersione Zero (TaMaLaCà, 2015)

The project allowed to buy the equipment needed in order to build a small carpenter’s workshop in the neighborhood, which the school and the district strongly wanted for a long time, but could not get because of some restrictions on administration. The Dispersione Zero project solved this problem using the short-term installation formula (since the project was firstly proposed as an installation rather than a final real project) also by using the funds given for the project, to gain life insurance for all the program participants, until the en of the program. Boys were the ones to design the spatial transformation project and to physically execute it, helped by many residents of the neighbourhood and guided by the Tamalaca comitee. Thanks to the small carpenter’s workshop – where the street furniture was built – as well as the creation of a self-built construction site, the project, which lasted for two days, was able to provide repainting and redecorating the allocated space.

Importance of Public Spaces in a Neighbourhood of Tirana

Figure 20. Implementation of Dispersione Zero (TaMaLaCà, 2015)

Color was used as the element of transformation in order to revitalize the space with a symbolic meaning as well as spatial reorganization: several types of colored bands go around some wooden structures, suggesting new individual and collective uses for them, such as playing, resting, and reading. Thanks to this transformation, a grim and generic transitional space became a recognizable location, comfortable and open to a variety of uses, some of which unexpected. The approach of “learning by doing” and the construction of a collaborative and non-hierarchical work environment are the crucial elements of Dispersione Zero. School teachers were a big helping hand during the process because they facilitated the involvement of all students but mostly of those that find difficulties in learning and the ones that had experience situations f socio-cultural disadvantage. Here were included informal learning activities that were able to explore and improve knowledge and skills difficult to cultivate in formal learning processes. This project stands out for the idea to use unusual funding channels which in this case wa the contact with the ministry to take action on the reducing of school dropout rate, in order to to promote microspatial transformations.

Importance of Public Spaces in a Neighbourhood of Tirana

Figure 21. Implementation of Dispersione Zero (TaMaLaCà, 2015)

This project was held in order to uncover the potentials of the neighbourhood services, so the public would be triggered to debate on the possibilities of rethinking roles and different functions of certain spaces in school, such as library, the courtyard, unused rooms, the gym) as spaces open to for all residents on after school hours. Finally, the project is interesting because of the idea of choosing to highlight the potential of of small forgotten spaces as local public spaces that can be renovated through short-term and low-cost interventions.

Importance of Public Spaces in a Neighbourhood of Tirana

 

Figure 22. Students using the newly created space

2.6         Principles of Planning a Successful Neighbourhood

Neighbourhoods are the core organization structure of cities. In order to design and plan a successful neighbourhood we must follow some principles. Some of the principles chosen by the author are extracted from Jan Ghel, Kevin Lynch and Christopher Alexander writings. This analysis is based mostly on “A Pattern of Language” book by Christopher Alexander. In this book, he aims to use a language of patterns related with three main groups, the town, the country and building and construction, so to present some ideals in order to reach the perfect model. This research is more interested with 94 patterns in the Town and Country group. They begin from larger scale to smaller one, in order to create a pattern of problems and solutions for neighbourhood planning. Below there will be a description and illustration of main patterns related with this research. The presented patterns aim to show in a smaller and tangible scale the characteristics of the neighbourhood, different from the other analysis that are made during this research, on a larger scale. These patterns are shortly explained and illustrated as follows.

Accessibility

Accessibility play a key role in interactivity of the city. It is the main means of connecting not only in terms of transportation but also services, information etc. Existing urban areas should be assessed in terms of their accessibility. A place should provide people with information about physical ways of reaching it. (Lynch, 1960) Lynch and Jacobs suggest that degrees of accessibility are crucial for classifying space. Such criteria extend beyond mere physical considerations to encompass human concerns.

Mixed Use/Diversity of Functions

Mixing land uses as commercial, residential, recreational, educational, and other, in neighborhoods or places that are accessible by bike and foot can create vibrant and diverse communities. To a larger scale, mixing uses attracts attention of people visit for different purposes as shopping, meeting friends, and living in urban neighborhoods and small towns. Mixed land uses are crucial to making the most of the places to live, work, and play a role that encourages sustainable growth. At least 40 per cent of floor space should be allocated for economic use in any neighbourhood. (Habitat, 2014)

Public Transport/ Mobility

Being able to travel through cities is a simple necessity for most human activities to develop. However, everyday journeys between home and work, training, recreation and other regular duties are not necessarily carried out in the most convenient circumstances, whether due to busy public transport or unpredictable traffic jams. Priorityzing pedestrian and bicycle movement would make huge changes on the enhancement of social interaction. Also, it is a form of transportation that is economic friendly, very interactive and non polluting (Ghel, 2010).

Ground Floor/ Soft edges

When designing a neighbourhood, it is really important to think about safety. It is crucial to always consider the human factor while planning. These are elements that will or won’t make a space more inviting. Ground floors of buildings have a great impact in urban everyday life. It is the first thing you experience everyday when you exit and enter your house; the first thing you experience on your way to school. Ground floors are the place where city meets the building (Ghel, 2010)

Active Facades

Through before made studies it was conducted that people tend to slow their pace and have a look when the façade is active and the contrary when its inactive. The active facades often have big front openings that are transparent and there is provided visual and physical access. People are more attracted by this kind of facades rather than the ones that offer only a small entrance on a wall without visible access (Ghel, 2010). In addition, this kind of relationship influences people’s perception of the city and how they are to use it. Jane Jacobs says that it is mainly streets and sidewalks that indicate how public space is perceived and used.

2.6.1. The Nolli Map

Nolli map is a two-dimensional map that is used to show and analyze the accessibility and flow of movement in a certain space. The painter, engineer and architect Giovanni Battista Nolli, was the first one to use the Nolli Map. Pope Benedict XIV asked Nolli to make a very detailed architectural map of Rome in order to be prepared for the future works to be made in the city in 1736. Nolli recorded every single building within the city, and he detailed to every room (King M. , 2017). What is so unique in Nolli map is that it has no disctintion between indoor and outdoor activities. It only shows mass and public space. In a city or neighbourhood analysis it is crucial to make the difference between private and public space. Since then Nolli map started being used as an analytical map from urban planners and architects all over the world.

Importance of Public Spaces in a Neighbourhood of Tirana

Figure 23. Nolli Map of Rome (Nolli, 1748)

2.6.2. Figure-Ground Relationship Theory

Figure-Ground Analysis consists on a two-dimensional map that shows the distinction between built and unbuilt space in a city or neighbourhood. Different from Nolli map that shows public spaces even within buildings, this analysis is only made to understand the solid mass and open voids in a certain space. Trancik says that figure-ground theory lies in the “manipulation and organization of urban solids and voids. When the dialogue between the urban solids and voids is complete and perceivable, the spatial network tends to operate successfully (Tranick, 1986). However, on the contrary, when the dialogue and balance between the two is poor, the space becomes fragmented and leads to lost or anti-space. Therefore, “design of the object must be considered in conjunction with structuring the void, so that building and space can effectively coexist.” (Tranick, 1986). ‘The relationship between figure and ground is one of the primary principles of visual perception and visual communication’, says Richard Poulin in the book Language of Graphic Design (2011).

Importance of Public Spaces in a Neighbourhood of Tirana

Figure 24. Trancik’s Concepts on Urban Space (Tranick, 1986)

2.6.3. A Pattern Language

Activity Nodes

If community facilities are scattered and distributed throughout the city, they don’t do anything for city’s public life. When these facilities are scattered, public life is spread so thin that it doesn’t have any impact on the community. Studies made for analyzing pedestrian behaviour show that people are affected by concentrations on other people. In order to create concentration of people in a community, facilities must be densely bundled around very small public squares that can function as nodes for all pedestrian movements in the community to pass through these nodes. It is important to build activity nodes around the neighbourhood and recognize certain areas in the community where activity appears to be focused. Then change the layout of the paths in the community to get as many of them through these spots as possible. This makes any spot act as a “node” in the path network (Alexander, 1977)

Importance of Public Spaces in a Neighbourhood of Tirana

Figure 25. Activity Nodes (Alexander, 1977)

Green Streets

Asphalt is an element that is taking over the world. A local road, which only gives access to buildings, only needs a few stones for the wheels of the cars. A very big part of it can still be green. Asphalt is a really poor choice in the narrow local streets where only a few cars a day pass by. Also, usage of asphalt and concrete encourages people that use cars to speed up in neighbourhood streets. In order to contribute to air quality and help in reducing temperatures in summer, vegetation has the power to humanize cities by attracting people to outdoor activities. As cities become denser and denser everyday, access to green public spaces will become very important as urban greenery can reduce people’s stress levels and increase their well-being. In order to preserve the greenery of the street, it is crucial to keep parked cars in driveways on the individual lots, or in tiny parking lots, at the ends of the street, reserved for the house owners and their visitors (Alexander, 1977).

Dancing In the Street

To make public places of neighbourhood alive at night, there is nothing like music and dancing. This is a pattern that simply states the physical conditions which will encourage dancing and music to make the streets livelier and help people socialize. Before, people used to dance in the streets and it has always been pictured as an activity of supreme joy. If communities are scattered, people are uncomfortable in the streets, afraid to socialize with one another, people are embarrassed. Where there is feeling for the importance of the activity re-emerging, then the right setting can actualize it and give it roots. Christopher Alexander advices that along promenades in small squares of neighbourhoods should be raised a slightly raised platform to form a bandstand, where street musicians and local bands can play. Cover it, and perhaps build in at ground level tiny stalls for refreshment (Alexander, 1977).

Front Door Bench

People like to sit and watch the street. The process of hanging out requires a continuum of degrees of involvement with the street, ranging all the way from the most private kind to the most public kind (Alexander, 1977). People like to sit in the street and have that kind of distance that allows them to talk to someone walking by, but still be protected enough so that they can withdraw into their own domain at a moment’s notice. Lots of people, especially the elderly like to put some chairs out to the front door or just stay against the front of their houses, either while doing something or just for the joy that observing street life brings them. Benches are an important element to be build outside the house, in an area where public and private meet together, so someone can sit and feel comfortable while watching the world go by. Place the bench to define a half-private domain in front of the house. A low wall, planting, a tree, can help to create the same domain (Alexander, 1977).

Life Cycle

It is known fact that each person goes through different stages in their life, from an infant to an old age. What it is not considered is the fact that each stage is accompanied with several difficulties and each stage has its own experiences that go along with it.  A true community provides, in its whole, a harmony between human experience and human culture. Each community includes a balance of people at every stage of the life cycle, from infants to the very old and include the full slate of settings needed for all these stages of life (Alexander, 1977)

Importance of Public Spaces in a Neighbourhood of Tirana

Figure 26. Life cycle representation (Alexander, 1977)

 Street Café

Street café is a unique setting and very important to the city. It is a place where people can just sit, be on view and see the world walking by. One can sit in other settings, like parks, but it is really quiet and more of a private and peaceful experience. Also sitting on a bench in the front door of your house is really different because is more protective. While on a street cafe, you can sit, relax, and be very public. The street café is built almost in every neighbourhood of European cities. The existence of such places provides social glue for the community. A good and successful street café with a walking distance from your home helps to increase the identity of the neighbourhood. Local cafes should be encouraged to spring up in each neighborhood. Make them intimate places, open to a busy path, where people can sit with coffee or a drink and watch the world go by. It is best to build a front of steet café so that some tables extend out of the café ad goes right into the street (Alexander, 1977).

Importance of Public Spaces in a Neighbourhood of Tirana

Figure 27. Street Café conceptual plan (Alexander, 1977)

Traveler’s Inn

As in every other city or town, visitors and tourists are always present and ready to congregate around places with high activity. Every traveler and visitor go to a place with a spirit of adventure and wanting to meet new people, have new experiences. In the past the inn was the perfect place to meet strangers, create new friendships and experience new adventures. Nowadays this culture is almost lost because the owners of these places tend to think that people are afraid of one another and they give them full privacy on their own. But the need for company of other people and adventures, overcomes this fear. The inn must create an inviting atmosphere where people can experience and satisfy this need.

Food Stands

The human nature habit is always attracted to buy simple an inexpensive food on the side of the road. Food stands are an element that contribute so much to the city life. Food stands are one of the memories that brings people back to their childhood experience. One may remember the ice cream cars that used to come in every neighbourhood and every times kids heard the singing horn, ran to buy an ice-cream. Another may remember small carts at the beach and the smell of popcorn, donuts or corn every-time that the cart came nearby. Everyone remembers them. But nowadays, even fast foods are built inside, isolated from public. Food stands are the choice if we want food to help and contribute to the social life of a neighbourhood. In order for the food stands to be successful, they should be places in the proper places. The food stands are free to take on a character that is compatible with the neighborhood around them. They can be freestanding carts, or built into the corners and crevices of existing buildings; they can be small huts, part of the fabric of the street (Alexander, 1977).

Chapter 3

Context of Tirana

Site Analysis

3.1         Tirana’s Public Spaces Evolution

The small and modest city took the appearance of a commercial city from the area’s economic needs during the 18th-20th century. It stretched around its centre where the bazaar and the two most remarkable mosques were built. Radially formed the main arteries, linking the city centre with the scarcely populated. The city retained its physiognomy despite the changes (Zekaj, 2017). There were some public spaces that we could mention such as the square in front of the old mosque and Et’hem-Bey Mosque, the Square of Prayers (Namazgjaja) in the neighbourhood of Tabak (today Ali Demi), the square of the Military Parade that coincides with the Shallvareve area, and the Albanian square in front of the Cinema Republic. They were used for various purposes that accompanied the lifestyle of the Orient. (Zekaj, 2017). We have the first drawn paper during the Austro-Hungarian occupation, which is a map of the topographical condition of Tirana in 1917. Historically, the city evolves around the bazaar cell on this plan. The residential area is primarily situated on the northern and eastern sides. This element describes the Albanian life’s oriental influence. The fact that the bazaar area was one of the main areas and public spaces used at the time once again states the Albanian spirit of gathering together for buying things and chatting, drinking a coffee and a bit of rumour. A very important statement is that the bazaar based on the 1917 map is the original bazaar, where the “Skanderbeg square” Opera building is located today. This is one of the main reasons why these two spaces, the Tirana centre and the “bazaar lifestyle,” are linked together.

Importance of Public Spaces in a Neighbourhood of Tirana

Figure 28. Old of the Bazaar (1950)

In 1924,: Tirana’s old bazaar was the most important and economic part. The bazaar areas were normal archery streets, as the crossroads of Tirana were very strong. This makes the bazaar a very powerful element, a feature of the oriental cities. (Kiel, 2012) King Zogu asks for an Italian architect in 1925. Roads started to be built alongside high-class villas, but there is no urban plan yet, a regulatory plan was needed to control the city’s demographic development. King Zog aims to divide the old and the new bazaar into two storehouses of livestock trading and trading of items. Armando Braşini generates a historical neoclassical spirit. He tries to transform the Oriental character into a European style. He built a boulevard of major demolitions in the area, not including the city’s cultural and architectural traditions, and ignored the mosque. (Kiel, 2012). He wanted to create a central square where there were state facilities and a place where the presidential object took place. From the start, Brazini wanted to do something. That’s where the “Skanderbeg” square story begins when he places a group of ministry buildings around the square and at the end of the boulevard, he creates another public space. The boulevard he creates is related to the theory of fascism that creates a strong north-south axis. In the break points of the axes, the squares were created and would later become real public spaces. The Scanderbeg Square provides an elliptic shape in which state facilities, ministries, neoclassical buildings were built, but the city centre remained the old bazaar area.

Importance of Public Spaces in a Neighbourhood of Tirana

Figure 29. Old photo in “Dibra” street

The second administrative scheme is that of 1926, where the city centre and the boulevard’s north-south axis are first contoured and their features continue to be created by the first public spaces. The most comprehensive and well-studied regulatory plan was that of 1942. Bosio creates four square systems around the city, 3 main squares. These are places where people gather, urban spaces. The power square was called the “Skanderbeg” square because it was surrounded by the ministries and major institutions, the power square was the one at the beginning of the boulevard right in front of today’s Polytechnic University building and the church square was to be built at the end of the boulevard that we now call the “train station.” Over the years, the “Skenderbeg” square has undergone great transformation. By 1936, the square was designed as a longitudinal square with two circular hooks and four buildings along the north side, where finally only one was built. (Spaan, 2017).

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