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Eyes of Tirana

It's hard to take a good picture of Skenderbeg Square. Even professionals struggle to give it any depth or vitality. There are parts of the Square that are photogenic - the Skenderbeg statue, the Et'hem Bey mosque - but taken as a whole it lacks definition.

Empty on the West side, scarred by two communist era monstrosities to the North and East, only the view to the South pleases - with the combination of the mosque, the statue and the government buildings.

It's no surprise that politicians, architects and urban planners have tried to come up with a redevelopment scheme for the Square. Following an international competition in 2003 commissioned by the Municipality of Tirana the plan drawn up by Architectural Studio - a French company - was chosen as the basis for Tirana's long term development.

It's an ambitious plan envisaging the redevelopment of a huge section of the city, with the Square at the centre. You can get an idea of the scale and amibition of the plan from the Architecture Studio website. Just click on 'Diaporama' for a series of images of how this new Tirana might look. One of the images is reproduced below.

I'm not sure what the proposed timescale is for implementation of the entire plan, but early last year a Danish studio, Henning Larsens Tegnestue (HLT), won another competition to select a group to begin the process. HLT submitted a plan based on the redevelopment of Skenderbeg Square. It's centrepiece will be a 26 story tower called 'Eyes of Tirana' which will stand on the empty West side of the Square.

The HLT website provides illustration of the tower and its relationship to the rest of the Square. Unfortunately the HLT site is one of those annoying flash sites that look good but are not entirely practical. From the menu select projects. The Tirana Tower is the second image from 2005. For those who are interested in more detail, you can have a look at HLT's competition proposal. The images below are from the HLT proposal.

The HLT site suggests that the project will be implemented from 2005-2007. As yet, however, I can see no indication of construction work on the proposed site. Given that the project would be very expensive the city obviously needs private investment to make the proposal a reality. Raising the money may prove a greater challenge than raising the tower.


ITS said…
They all look great. Anything is better than nothing. And let's hope this time that with changing regimes, they won't be tearing the buildings down over and over...
MĂ«rgimtari said…
Do any of you natives know if palm trees are native to this part of Albania?

In my opinion, they should plant local trees and try as much as possible to tie the architecture of these buildings in with native styles/mediterranean architecture.
Anonymous said…
Hello Our Man in Tirana.

For more information on more projects check this site below.
Anonymous said…

Palm trees grow pretty well in Durres, not a whole lot in Tirana but considering that in a straight line Tirana is only about 30-35km from Durres then I think they'd survive there.
Anonymous said…
I know the investor of one of this buildings. Sorry to dissapoint you guys, but he is a dirty guy who is trying to clean the money in the building. May be not the only one. Don't look behind the fasade, you may get a depression!
ITS said…
Un utilisateur anonyme a dit…
I know the investor of one of this buildings. Sorry to dissapoint you guys, but he is a dirty guy who is trying to clean the money in the building. May be not the only one. Don't look behind the fasade, you may get a depression!

Oh my, a dirty investor!

Kind of like Enron and Halliburton in the USofA, or was it Parmalat in Italy?

Let me give you a reality check. Behind big money, there is always dirt, no matter where you go in the world. Albanians are learning for the best, and they are at the very early stages of this dirty game, we call business.
hi, are you interested in link exchange with this site: ? i want just a link, you can have many :)
Anonymous said…
I am talking about drugs, its. You too? Why I have the impression that your steroid levels are quite high, as high as to make you qualify for a kalashnikov?
blogger said…
nursery plants said…
There are many wholesale perennials that can add to the beauty of any place in a few months, if due care and attention is paid while choosing and growing them.

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And now the end is near
and so i face nanananana...

Never did like that crappy song.

But it's true nevertheless.

Tomorrow in the wee hours of the morning we will be heading for the airport for the last time. I suppose it was too much to expect that I could have kept this going while getting ready to leave. So apologies for the lack of postings over the last weeks. This is post number 380 something so I suppose one post every two days is not a bad average.

There were probably 380 more in my head or scribbled down on scraps of paper, but many of them are perhaps best left there.

I suppose I should be penning - or typing - my final thoughts and reflections on two years in Tirana, but right now I don't have any. Maybe in a month or two though I might come back with something.

Thanks to all of you who have read this blog - especially those of you who have become regulars. Thanks also for linking and thanks to all who left comments.

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Welcome to Our Man in Tirana. I moved to Tirana, capital of Albania, in October 2005 and left in October 2007. This blog is a mix of photographs, reports, links, impressions and, undoubtedly, prejudices relating to the city and the country.

Since I am no longer in Tirana I am no longer updating this blog. However, there are over 300 posts covering this two year period and I hope that they are still of some interest.

So if you are curious about Albania or if you are planning to visit I hope this blog will be of value.

Miss Globe 2007

On Saturday, we were at the Rogner meeting with an expat friend who was leaving Tirana. It was breakfast time, and as our friend was finishing his tea the breakfast room started to fill up with over-dressed (or under-dressed) young women wearing blue sashes. These were the contestants for the Miss Globe 2007 beauty pageant being held in Tirana tonight at the Palace of Congresses. High heel boots and mini-skirts - or in a couple of cases micro-skirts, or possibly just belts - have never struck me as obvious breakfast attire, but the girls seemed happy enough tottering and wobbling around with their tea and toast. I'm not sure why they were wearing their sashes - perhaps in case they forgot which country they came from.
As we were leaving they were boarding a large coach which I had seen a number of times around the city in the last few days for their next trip. I'm not sure how some of them made it up the steps, or how they managed to sit down, but perhaps these are the kinds o…