Socialist Industrial Heritage in Albania
Vito Quadrato, Alberto Pice, Daniele Fiore, Silvia De mauro, Pierluigi Ruggeri & Massimiliano Cafagna
Professors: Prof. Michele Beccu, Prof. Anna Bruna Menghini, Prof. Francesca Calace, Prof. R. Belli
After the fall of the socialist regime in 1990, Albania, today, is undergoing a strong period of economic growth. For the Albanian government, the time has come to develop strategies which target the large abandoned industrial heritage, characterized by high architectural quality. This is due to the use of U.R.S.S. and chinese constructive technologies, which have ensured a long life to these buildings. The purpose of the thesis is to research the reconversion of the most important ex-thermoelectric powerplant of the country (T.E.C. 1966),placed in the neighbourhood of Fier.
Through a typological study of industrial remains, we distinguished between “big industrial containing objects”, and “small industrial contained objects”; we identified modular relationships and dimensional consonances between the group of buildings.
The project has two main goals: transforming the exterior ground surface from an industrial and functionalist space to a public one whilst converting the interior to a culturally oriented space, in order to create a positive dialogue between the existing industrial machines (turbines and boilers) and the new elements of project. This cultural and interactive space, placed in the suggestive ex engine room of T.E.C. 1966, consists of co-working laboratories, a great museum, didactic areas, a conference hall and aspires to recompose the relationship between regional inhabitants and the memory of their territory full of traditions. The exterior design tries to amend the conflict that exists between natural elements and the factory through the projection of green plots which bring inside the public space different aspects of the albanian landscape, characterized by lagoons, huges, farms.
Who influences you graphically?
With regards to technical drawings we explored Matteo Ghidoni from Salotto Buono’s platform as well as the San Rocco review. On the other hand project visions come from the study of Italian metaphysical painting masters, in particular Mario Sironi who inspects the Milanese suburbs. Another reference is socialist realism artwork, which has a great artistic value in the ability to depict the albanian landscape.
You explore your proposal through all means of representation, do you trust that only like this is one able to fully convey a project as a whole?
Today the representation and the reality of the architectural project has an indissoluble and essential link, above all in terms of communication. This work was in this sense an exercise that has proved to decline different forms of representation because there were different standards and addressees for each form of communication: whilst our technical drawings allowed for no ornament and for the most complete abstraction, for the strategic research drawings we chose to use pictograms and the graphic symbols. As an alternative the evocative drawings’ aim is to suggest and produce possible visions and provocations.
You talk about creating a dialogue between the industrial machines and the new elements, how is this achieved within the proposal and how is this then emphasized graphically?
The new elements introduced with the project were conceived as spaces for “machinary exhibition”. The objective was to try and create a semantic dialogue with industrial machines and generate, from a conceptual and communicative point of view, new symbolic and positive values.
The new ‘grafts’ design tries to respect the place and its industrial memory. These new elements consist of three new volumes placed in the boilers room; a place that originally housed huge machineries. As a result of this we once more propose a new variety of objects similar in shape: a formal simplicity external simplicity is juxtaposed to a complex operation on the interior; these are dark spaces dedicated to projections.
A great expositive block is another amalgamation in the turbines room, it incorporates the still present machineries and alludes to a conveyor belt, conducing museum visitors through the history of the territory. From graphical point of view we try to facilitate the context integration of the new elements through a new industrial atmosphere depiction, a contemporary creative factory.
How does the use of certain characters chosen depict the now achieved freedom of the space compared to what it used to be in Soviet times?
The fall of the socialist regime in Albania represents for the country a newfound freedom and a sense of belonging; therefore we chose to play by inserting characters, which offer a contrast to the idealized socialist image of the working class hero. The presence of these people attempts to deconstruct the negative memory of the regimes restrictions and promote new possibilities for these places.
How and why is texture used in the perspective views, what is the atmospheric outcome?
The choice to use texture choice was to represent an imaginary and not realistic space. It was more important, in our opinion, to create exciting visuals and suggest a special spatial atmosphere: the traces of the past human energy come from the work but at the same time, the current dramatic silence.