Landscape, sustainable, flooding, fragments, Albania.

Landscape in Fragments: A study of an Albianian landscape corridor from Shkoder to the Adriatic Sea

Eranda Janku;James Stevens;Loris Rossi


Landscape, sustainable, flooding, fragments, Albania.
The Albanian landscape is fractured into paradoxical parts. These fragments are palatable during the drive from the city of Shkodra to the Adriatic coast along Rruga Shkodër - Velipojë. As one leaves the dense urban environment of Shkodra and crosses the confluence of the Drin and Bojana River the landscape opens up to a vast horizontal plain of agriculture. Behind is the city of Shkodra rapidly developing in what local scholars and architects refer to as “turbo urbanism”, ahead is the agricultural ruins of the failed communist government. Albania’s history is one of conflict, occupation, and isolated communist dictatorships. Enver Hoxha was the authoritarian leader of communist Albania for decades, and following his death in 1985 Albania’s government collapsed in 1990. Albania’s transition to a parliamentary democracy has been difficult and lead to an Albanian diaspora in Italy, western Europe and North America. The many political upheavals have left broken or nonexistent public infrastructure fostering a strong distrust of public development by the populous. Today, after a decade of relative stability and new monetary investments, architects and designers are facing conflicting and paradoxical choices. This paper seeks understanding of the Albania context through a case study of a landscape of fragments between the northern city of Shkodra and the Adriatic Sea (figure02). The study was carried out by an international cohort of architects and urban planners from Albania, Italy and the United Sates. The researchers sought to interrogate the social and political factors that shaped the landscape and to seek to clarify what contributions can be made by architects in a context that is geographically proximate but culturally remote. Highlighted will be the forces that shaped the landscape as we find it today. With pressure coming from uncontrolled urbanization and a constant threat of flooding, Shkodra serves as an example of how ecosystems react when exceeding their ability to regenerate. When viewed from above, the land is subdivided in large plots by mechanized irrigation ditches (figure03). The order provided by the former communist government does not seem to rule this land today. Greenhouses scaled to service large areas of land stand broken, altered, or abandoned adjacent to poorly engineered and ineffective levees. The land does not adhere to polyculture agriculture, nor does it operate as an efficient mechanized farming operation. Settlements are no longer planned, rather informally developed, many times located in areas that are both ecologically damaging and unsafe (figure04) The research and analysis concludes with modest design propositions that are intended to tease out the potential of the context. The proposals do not pretend to fix or rebuild the landscape but only to provide small but meaningful interventions. Most significantly, new insights are provided on the landscape of Albania, where the limit between proximate and remote is regulated by a fragile edge of ever changing fragments
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