Sunday, November 13, 2011

Walking the City 4th Episode

Walking the City 4th Episode
Itenerary: The periurban area Kombinat-Yzberish-Mezes-Yrshek,
Commune of Kashar, Tirana

On 14 October 2011, at 10.00 o’clock, we all meet at the main square of “Kombinat” neighborhood of Tirana, a former industrial satellite town created during communist times in Albania by early 50s. Here was developed a textile industry know as “Kombinati Stalin” because of financing from Soviet Union. The neighborhood attracted a number of new inhabitants mainly from the southern areas of Albania. The purpose was to increase the number of the so called “working class” which were supposed to be the support for the new communist government of post-war Albania, while the country was dominated by 80% rural population. After 50s such migration influx was interrupted and Kombinat remained a small industrial satellite town....

Monday, September 5, 2011

Walking the Island

Walking the Rhodes Island, Greece…

Text, Besnik Aliaj & Eranda Janku
Photos, Eranda Janku

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Guest Post: Archigram's "Walking City" Concept

Archigram’s “Walking city” Concept

The Walking City was an idea proposed by British architect Ron Herron in 1964. In an article in avant-garde architecture journal Archigram, Ron Herron proposed building massive mobile robotic structures, with their own intelligence, that could freely roam the world, moving to wherever their resources or manufacturing abilities were needed. Various walking cities could interconnect with each other to form larger 'walking metropolises' when needed, and then disperse when their concentrated power was no longer necessary. Individual buildings or structures could also be mobile, moving wherever their owner wanted or needs dictated.
During the building of the U.S transcontinental railroad, a mobile town of support personnel, restaurants, saloons, and various recreation facilities (laundry, gambling, dance halls, etc.) followed the railroad; the town was colloquially known as Hell on Wheels...

Disa Tiranat...

Disa Tiranat...
...nga rrapet, eukaliptet, palmat dhe pishat e buta
( Kronike nga itinerari Rruga e vjetër e Shkodrës, Blloku “Partizani”, Aeroporti i vjetër, Lapraka, Kashar.)

Tirana që shohim sot ndodhet mbi një Tiranë që jo për të gjithë është e dukshme ... ka shumë pak shenja që e lexojnë atë. Edhe pse ajo që shohim sot duket se ndonjëherë është e vetmja Tiranë “fitimtare” ndaj asaj që duhet të kishte poshtë ... kjo Tiranë e fshehtë shpesh dërgon sinjale që fillojnë ta vënë në dyshim këtë “tirane”....

Walking the City- 3rd episode

National Museum - Chamber of Commerce – Durresi Street – Napoli Square – The Mosaic of Tirana – Partizani Neighborhood – FIN – Old Airport – Lapraka – Breglumasi – Treshi Intersection – Tirana Durres Railway – New Polis – QTU

Not our usual starting...not a usual day...

Friday, 21st of January 2011 was a sad-bad day for Tirana and Albania. In the morningof that day with my family we drove first our sun to the kindergarten. The teachers there were concerned and  they told us: it is advisable to pick up your son sooner today, preferably not latter than noon! We asked why? Normally we were supposed to be there at 17.00 o’clock. Don’t you know – they said politely- the opposition has a protest today at 14.00! I smiled and said well it is not 1997 folks! Albania has changed now. (someone would even say we are NATO members and approaching EU accession now…) But  simply said: we don’t have luxury to make troubles any more...! So after we drove peacefully to the new Polis campus to continue hard-working for settling the new school according the deadlines...

At 12.00 a clock my wife asked Eranda to pick up urgently our son from kindergarten. Ladies have more pragmatic sense than man. Indeed, latter it appeared he was the only one left there with teachers. Everyone seemed to be afraid,and picked children much earlier. Well it is not that we do not care, but I didn’t know and I was not even aware of what was going on… At 14.00 o’clock many busses with protesters from all over country embarked on Tirana streets… Central Tirana was paralyzed. While “Tirana-Durres highway” motor-city or the core business district of Albania was just working as usually…

During lunch break I just asked someone, and he told me it was a smooth protest. But than after 2-3 hours I hear from my wife that some fire is set around Prime-minister office. I couldn’t believe it, but I said this is democracy. People protest, some times even angry, but that is all… Well, in the evening when arriving home I hear the news at my car radio: 3 people died today in the protest of opposition. Hundreds of people and policemen were injured. I shocked and become aware of real situation. The main boulevard in front of Government and Parliament was transformed in a battlefield, while the rest of city, including us were working hard. And I believe I am not an indifferent person politically… I care about society and I am active when I think its worth to be… I felt sad and revolted! I lost optimism you get by setting up a new university and a new campus. Is it worth what we are doing? My friend Sotir called me and asked cynically: is it smart that we decided to stay in Albania?

Than I recalled my mind: but we have announced “Walking the City 3” tomorrow… Should we go on under such circumstances, or should we cancel everything? Back home TV stated that PM quoted the protest as a kind of “coup d’etat”. The oppositions leaders indeed added: 3 victims are nothing, we will fight to win even if there will be 3,000 ones… My goodness this is too far, I said. But immediately I though: we must go on with Walking to ignore such kind of pseudo-politics. We must continue our lives and not be scared of irresponsible. Indeed our fear is exactly their victory… So called Sotir and decoded: tomorrow we go on! However deep in my soul I felt also responsible for particpants. But I don’t suffer usually by the lack of courage… So tomorrow the sky was again blue and sunny, despite the bad taste in mouth by the events of last day… We all meet again next to the National Historical Museum.
Besnik Aliaj, Sotir Dhamo & Eranda Janku

            *          *          *

Saturday, 22 January 2011

One week latter from the last city walk we decided that “Walking the City 3” would explore further the western part of the city and further demystify the distance of city center with the new campus of Polis University. Of course we thought for another alternative itinerary, including areas we have been working 15 years ago. We were curious to see parts of the city we have not seen quite for some times, and curious to monitor changes. I was hopping for positive changes…

Guest Post: Archigram

“Walking City” from Archigram"

Archigram was an avant-garde architectural group formed in the 1960s - based at the  Architectural Association, London - that was futurist, anti-heroic and pro-consumerist, drawing inspiration from technology in order to create a new reality that was solely expressed through hypothetical projects. The main members of the group were Peter Cook, Warren Chalk, Ron Herron, Dennis Crompton, Michael Webb and David Greene. Designer Theo Crosby was the "hidden hand" behind the groupHe gave them coverage in Architectural Design magazine (where he was an editor from 1953–62), brought them to the attention of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London, where, in 1963, they mounted an exhibition called Living Cities, and in 1964 brought them into the Taylor Woodrow Design Group, which he headed, to take on experimental projects.

Përtej “murit me gropa” dhe “legjenda lagjeje”...

Përtej “murit me gropa” dhe “legjenda lagjeje”...
Qyteti dhe fjalët

Muri me gropa – tha një djalë i vogël në oborrin e hapur i cili me një moshatar të tij po rregullonin diçka ... duhet të kaloni murin me gropa dhe menjëherë do të dilni matanë ... Të gjithë bënë sikur e kuptuan por secili mendonte me vete se si mund të ishin gropat nëpër mure ... Në fakt në atë segment të rrugës duket se mbetëm si të kapur në çark pasi dukej se çdo rrugë ishte e mbyllur apo e përfshirë brenda një rruge tjetër më të vogël ose më të madhe dhe sikurse “matrioshkat” sa me shumë kukulla hapje aq me shume të dukej se rrethi ku kishe mbetur i izoluar behej gjithmonë e më i vogël. Pikërisht aty në anën tjetër të murit me gropa hapej rruga e “shpëtimit” drejt asfaltit dhe autostradës ... e shpëtimit pasi disa kishin filluar të shqetësoheishn nga mungesa e asfaltit....

Walking the City- 2nd episode

Central post offices – “Cameria” bazaar – “Myslim Shyri” road – Former “Enver” factory – Old Tirana airport – The western side of the new ringroad – “Casa Italia” shopping center – Tirana Durres highway – Polis University.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

10.00:              The second tour of Walking the City was designed with double intentions: to continue establishing the new tradition, and to use it as an instrument for participants to better understand the relation of the city center with the new campus of Polis University that was just transferred into the western side along Tirana-Durres economic and business corridor. The new venues are located next to the area of QTU shopping mall (Qendra Tregetare Univers) where several other universities are located in the last 5 years. This is practically becoming a kind of alternative/second pool of universities, despite the historical one in the city center. Polis staff and students have designed and developed there a pragmatic experimental campus concept, involving adaption of former industrial building and production of completely new buildings. In few words bringing students and staff there simply by walking 10-12 kilometers would be e kind of demystification process towards lack of information and prejudice for such distance. Indeed such relocation made Polis having more metropolitan features, while repositioning it towards the ‘traditional” city... 

Guest Post: Gloria Fallon

Boston: America's Walking City

America's Walking City is a wonderful place to live--that is, if you are the one doing the walking. During the five years I lived in Boston, four of them were spent blissfully car-free. It took me a while to realize that the pedestrian rules in Boston, and once I caught on, I sold my car, bought a pair of Nikes, and hit the cobblestones....

Monday, March 28, 2011

Kush janë metropolitan-ët e vërtetë?...

Kush janë metropolitan-ët e vërtetë– “nga Kamza në Babru për të pirë kafe” Qyteti dhe Distancat

... skulptura e një djali dhe një kali nuk të lënë të ngatërrohesh kurrë ... arritëm tek shesh rrotullimi i Kamzës. Kishim përfunduar ecjen e parë dhe kishim përmesuar një pjesë të Tiranës, të cilën shumë banorë të qendrës nuk e dinë akoma që ekziston. E quaj veten me fat që e mbaj mend se si ka qenë ky kryqëzim përpara se të vendosej kali dhe përpara se të ekzistonte Kamza vetë si qytet, sepse kështu kam kuptuar se si mund të krijohet një qytet ... një temë leksioni kjo që ua bëj shpesh studentëve të mi. Banorët e Kamzës dukej se kishin dëgjuar këshillat tona të gati 15 viteve më parë kur në zonë punonim me Co-PLAN dhe kur u thoshim se “Kamza ka nevojë për sheshin Skënderbe” ku të ndalojë një autobus që vjen nga qendra e Tiranës ... dhe këtu e kishte fjalën jo vetëm për nevojën e lidhjes me Tiranën, por edhe të identifikimit e konsiderimit që banorët e saj kishin nevojë...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Walking the City- 1st episode

Train Station Tirana – Northern Tirana – Paskuqan Lake – Kamza Municipality

Saturday, 25 November 2010

10.00:              We meet all in front of Tirana’s Railway Station. At first meeting there were around 15-20 people that joined the walk. Me and my colleagues Sotir Dhamo explained to participants the route of the first tour with a simple A3 format map, underlined the walk to be undertaken. After informing a bit the nature of areas and the social-urban problematique, we started the walk from the railway station, which is very back warded and I would say primitive. It is one of the worst services in Albania, and yet not reformed since the time of friendship of Albania with Stalin. I think it desperately needs to be changed. Probably privatizing or giving it by concession might be a good idea for the moment. At this moment authorities are not interested on railways. It is bad. One line system. No electricity. Trains mean 1-2 wagons and oil run locomotive. Very low speed of maximum 30 Km/hour. Although cheap it remains neglected and used by limited and most poor segments of society. Using trains in Albania is an exotic experience. The train goes several days to the neighboring Durres city. And once per day in three main destinations: Vlora, Pogradec and Shkodra. Certain tentative in 2003 to create a rapid connection by train from Tirana the Airport and Durres, failed because of harsh political debate in the national Parliament.

Why Walking the City?

Walking throughout cities is a daily routine for most of people… Often this can be a boring, tiring, time consuming job. People have to go from their home to work, or visit family and friends, or run for a business purpose, or…

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Let's WALK in the CITY !

What is "Walking the City" ?...

Walking the City is an initiative of students and staff of the School of Urban Planning, at POLIS University, International School of Architecture and Urban Development Policies, in Tirana. There exist already a legitimacy of bottom-up and participatory planning at POLIS University since the establishment of its research institute Co-PLAN Institute for Habitat Development, which involved a lot of on the ground urban and architectural experimenting projects in close contacts with local communities. Such legitimacy pushes naturally often for going back to neighborhood grassroots level.

However such tradition has been further elaborated and sophisticated over years via several other professional works and academic experiments, including the exploratory tours of students and staff in subjects like “Analysis of City & Territory”, or “Urban Design & Landscape Planning”. However, “Walking the City” is a kind of institutionalization of such tradition and values, which we the organizers of such blog-publication will try to document over time. Indeed this is a kind of historic “picture” of the city in certain moment of history, and we believe this will bring some benefits to the interested people, visitors and professionals. Enjoy it & why not try it yourself…

Besnik Aliaj, Sotir Dhamo & Eranda Janku

            *          *          *