How can coronavirus affect architecture? In Shkodër, a group of young architects and urban planners discuss architectural issues highlighted by the pandemic and the routine of city life. With the guests Aurora Baba (architect), Ana Turhani (student) and Pezana Rexha (architect), “Artes” further discusses neuro-architecture, the monumental losses of a decade and the public shock from the public-private partnership. A broadcast by Elsa Demo, directed by Sonila Basha on RTSH Albanian Radio Television.
Ms. Jona, the young graduated architect from Shkodra participating the Workshop was invited to share her experience and the framework of Right to the City 2 in a morning show hosted by RTSH (Albanian Radio – Television). While introducing how Right to the City was initially hosted by GO2 since 2017, she brought to attention the need of understanding our cities, understanding public space and our rights to it, especially after several crisis such as the later, Covid19 pandemic. To analyze and be able to comprehend how social, political and economical aspects come together and effect the dynamics of a city, communicating with the community is and irreplaceable approach, which has been the methodology of the workshop. Sharing the intensive 3-day experience on field-study, Ms. Jona stated how they had felt the sensitivity of citizens towards the city and public spaces they frequent. This direct contact helped them understand the sense of belonging, issues, threats and opportunities, which is the start of understanding the city.
Especially, regarding the diversity of communities and cities face, Ms. Jona shares how valuable and insightful have been the cases brought to the audience by the key speakers in the online open forum. Moreover, she expressed enthusiastic how these cases of success can inspire young professionals towards responsible design through civic participations.
Wandering around the city street to seeks for insight from the citizen by interviewing them, this time the participants of the Workshop encountered local media journalist and become interviewees. They shared with them one of the main issues, that of centralization. Only through exploring and experiencing it encouraged by a main purpose and critical thinking, the city has disclosed potential public space, which can be transformed into attractive gathering space because of their distinctive features. The students engaged in Right to the City 2, emphasize that the flux of movement in the city centre should not be the motivation of focusing investments in that area. On the contrary, project implementation or interventions in public space must be guided by the human behaviours in those spaces. They highlight to the interviews that leads back to the importance of community participation in analysing the context and designing them. As Ms. Pezana Rexha, a facilitator in this Workshop, states: This kind of approach ought to raise awareness for the responsibility of young professionals as architects, urban planners, but more importantly as citizens.
The third day of Right to the City 2 workshop started with interviews on local radio and television. Some of them in the studios and other accompanied by the journalist on the fields, the participants seemed eager to share this experience with the audience, to communicate the fundamental importance of the them, the community, in the daily dynamics of a city.
After two intensive days in the field, conducting observations on the city streets and direct interviews with citizens where the necessary information was provided to understand the current situation of the city along with the issues, the third day consisted on elaborating all information collected into a manual for public spaces. Through this draft, a summary of the whole workshop was made, so that the conclusions drawn could be shared with a wider audience. The manual contains very simple diagrams / sketches that describe the sensitivities of the citizens for their city, therefore attention was paid to the suggestions received from the citizens themselves. The evaluations were based on the image of the city created by combining all the day, identifying zones according to land use and emphasising issues accordingly. Based on community perceptions extracted from the interviews, the participants of the Workshop aim to offer potential proposals for public spaces that will somehow bring back some rights to their city.
After a long day of brainstorming ideas to utilize any information they have received from the city and community, the workshop participants held a final session with their facilitators. Excited to present their work to a larger audience, but also inspired by what they have gained during this experience, the students show step by step what they will present and the final product of the workshop. Facilitators, who follow them carefully by giving occasional instructions, emphasize that the product is an end, but a means to an end because only by sharing with others the whole process, studies, observations, perceptions and impressions will manage to convey to others the empathy to the city and a sense of belonging.
The second day of Right2theCity2 Albania started with a short lecture by public rights activist Ervin Goci. The lecturer of the University of Tirana praised the young professionals for their commitment to this Workshop, where the basis is on site research. Thus, they will become aware of what is happening in the city and will be able to recognize what Jane Jacobs calls ‘citizen science’, meaning the sensitivity and instinct to the city.
In order to make these calls to action more tangible to students, as citizens, and then as professionals, the activist spoke with such enthusiasm and passion about the 3 resistances in which he was engaged in. Among these is the National Theatre, a case which Goci brought in the context of it being the right over a space and public property. “Citizens need to be aware of their sense of belonging, to know what they belong to, because the city is everyone’s right, it is a collective right,” he said.
Participants then surveyed and identified the various streets and areas of Shkodra, chosen by them as areas that need a well-thought-out planning, to enable people to interact more with the city and to feel part of it. Serving this purpose, the participants, divided into small groups, talked directly with the citizens, who introduced them to the daily problems, such as the lack of taps and public toilets, cleanliness, occupation of streets by cars and sidewalks by vendors, lanes and bicycles, large number of stray dogs on the street, etc.
With this data collected in the field, the participants of the Workshop Right2theCity2 Albania, some of whom are members of EASA, met in the afternoon with their facilitators on the Workshop.
The brainstorming session was a sharing and interaction of ideas on the collected information in the field – the community is aware of what they need, what they would like to have… Their involvement in the planning process is a novelty in this methodology and in the approach of these young architects during the workshop. They understand that working with the community is essential to revitalization and urban interventions in the city – generations of young urban planners and architects must make this approach part of their work and mentality.
In the end they will compile all these results in a “manual”, which will be schematic and simple to read by citizens, decision makers and professionals. All these stakeholders must interact in harmony together, in order to focus on “community sense of belonging”.
Neritan Sejamini has studied in Tirana and later on in Vienna and Washington. After graduation, he was hired as an advisor to the Prime Minister of Albania at the time, while in the mid-90s he founded the Institute of Contemporary Studies. Afterwards, he re-engaged in central government institutions, and in 2005-2008 he was appointed advisor to the Prime Minister. For several years, Sejamini has contributed to public rights and the right to information, especially through the portal exit.al. In recent years, he was also committed to various civic causes. He is an expert in public policies, a commentator and author of #MePakFjalë show in #EuroNews Albania.
Dorina Pllumbi is an architect and a Ph.D. Candidate at the Department of Architecture, TU Delft, Netherlands. Her research interest resides in studying practices of commoning as material and spatial engagement in realities of socio-political transition. Her particular focus is to understand the role that commoning practices have played in Albania during the transitional period from a totalitarian state-socialist regime to a recently consolidating neoliberal one. Currently, Dorina is a visiting scholar at Parsons School of Design in New York City.
Dr. Boštjan Bugarič is an architect, researcher and editor. He leads KUD C3, a collective for spatial research of contemporary urban trends. In 2011 he was awarded with the Golden Cube Award for the project Public city. As an artist in residence by the Ministry of Culture of Republic in Slovenia was in London (2016) and in New York (2012). In 2014 he collaborated at a community recuperation project in Mexico City within Casa Imelda and UAM University. For the University of Primorska in Koper he coordinated the accreditation and established the Faculty of Built Environment (2008-13), where he took a position of the acting dean (2011 – 2013). In same period was active as a president of the Society of Coastal Architects Koper, Slovenia. In 2012 he leaded an independent reestablishment of the Slovenian Cultural Center in Vienna. In 2017 was invited to be a visiting critic at Cornell University Rome. The same year was a research collaborator at Faculty of Architecture Ljubljana. He was a professor at the Faculty of Humanites Koper and a researcher and editor at Architectuul in Berlin. He collaborated at numerous lectures in Slovenia and abroad and exhibited as a selected author at U3 Triennale of Contemporary Art in Slovenia in MSUM+ Ljubljana in 2013, as a selected lecturer for the international workshop Wonderland Berlin – Funding Urbanism at DAZ Berlin in 2014. Same year he was leading Architectuul’s international project Unfinished, organized in Slovenia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Serbia, Macedonia, #osnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Austria, #Albania and at the final event at the Serbian pavilion of the XIV Architecture Biennial in Venice. Since 2016 he is coordinating the Architcetuul’s associated partnership at the Future Architecture Platform.
Aurora Baba is an architect, researcher, neuroarchitecture enthusiast, and human rights expert who works and lives in Tirana. She is the co-founder of NEUAR – Neuroscience for Urban Space and Architecture (www.neuar.org), a new initiative that binds architecture and neuroscience to create healthier cities, that heal, promote, and ensure physical, mental, and social health. Aurora has an interdisciplinary experience reflected in 10 years of experience in designing and managing construction and social projects, with multiple national and international stakeholders. She is the co-founder and board member of EuroCentralAsian Lesbian * Community where she has been working with local and international institutions such as the Council of Europe focusing on bringing lesbian* geniuses to the world.
Ervin Goci completed his studies in Philosophy at the University of Tirana, his postgraduate studies were oriented in Humanities, and then continued his doctoral studies in the Department of Journalism and Communication, Faculty of History and Philology, where he has been working since 2005’s. He has covered several disciplines as a university lecturer, such as communication theories, theories on public space and community engagement, public relations theories, and managerial models in new media. He has been part, regularly, in studies and scientific conferences of the Department of Journalism and Communication, offering his expertise in the conceptual phase of these projects. Lecturer Ervin Goci has extended the theoretical delivery beyond the university auditorium, covering a weekly column on national public television, on issues related to the relationship between the media and modern technologies, editing and producing news in the time of algorithms, building public opinion on the dynamics of networks social. Beyond university projects, Mr. Goci regularly engages in several research projects in partnership with organizations focused on issues of public sensitivity such as the environment, human rights, professional status of journalists, offering his expertise in moderating public communication of these agencies.