Here's a video of Utopian Tirana.
Hidden Cities & Hybrid Identities - Rome, Italy
by Ajmona Hoxha, Blendina Cara, Elis Vathi, Klodiana Millona
What does utopia mean in a city like Tirana?
A city that has gone through radical political wars, has fallen in a static transition; stretching it with a sense of urgency that thrives in dynamic instability, fearing the past and being uncertain of the future. Thus, leaving an absent self.
Is this nostalgic fear utopic? Is this future anticipation utopic?
Artifacts such as the Pyramid build as utopic monuments; are thought of as obsolete remnants with an absent present, and they seem to be dissolving into a dystopian (much speculative) future - a very slow one at that. Even though spatial configuration around them has change, these artifacts somehow seem to make up the urban context for new projects. Of course they are the primary, fixed elements of city space and life because they have resisted historical violence, but somehow have failed to accommodate the post-totalitarian shift and adapt to present cultural diversity.
In my opinion, utopia in a city like Tirana, where time/space continuum is stuck between the dissolution of the old and the creation of the new, remains in these remnants or artifacts (if you will) that I call pockets of crisis.
A crisis of identity.
Since they were built as utopic (well, the most well-known ones) and dedicated to someone in power (as a lot of pyramids were) most likely off-limits to general population, they were already pre-defined. Their type, their form, their style, their function, their occupants, their- everything was given to people as such. It all made perfect sense being in a totalitarian regime and all, but now that we're moving forward as an open and free country, we see the most recognized signs of an identity struggle.
We're trying really hard to replace our (past) thought and urban typography/context, that we're having serious problems redefining the contents that would actually fit in it. Contents such as these artifacts.
What can they be now? Who can go inside? What function should they hold? How private or public should they be?
We're so confused that we've let them become utopic ruins. Utopic, because we still can't let go and accept that buildings are build for people, to be accessed by them. They're not shrines, that's why we have monuments and lapidaries.
Utopia in this case and in this city seems to be just a regime propaganda. That is how these overpriced objects were sold to the starving, submissive masses. They have become a testament of their owners' appearance and fetishism.
They are still haunting us.
And, we're letting them be..
We need to use them.
To me, these pockets of crisis are schizophrenic opportunities for the public good, for the urban city, for a new global metropolis. They cannot be visible landmarks on the map but absent from urban life. If we allow them (in our mind and actions) to lead, condition and trace our collective urban behavior, only then we can say we have allowed this city to mature. Only then, their spatial responses will inform us, the users. This way the city will grow and shrink interactively with the collective experience, and not as an independent image or an object camouflaged by instability. Only then, we'll be able to really map the potential for change in a city that has seen so much of it.
The post-communist city, the new city has more arbitrary constructions than historical reconstruction. Our idea and action toward preservation doesn't go further than just in name. We seem to be fearful to act in order to protect and restore historical spatiality but we are proud to be excessively vocal about our strong nationalism.
We have been so focused to transition from communism to the future in terms of time that we have forgotten to change in space, and that's why (spatially) we're bouncing off on all kinds of directions.
We have responded to a defensive urban strategy and model of the totalitarian city, with an offensive architectural sprawl and aesthetics that still leaves the public user out. Reactivating ex-utopic artifacts will help identify Tirana as a city that is no longer on the edge, but moving towards maturity. Enabling new continuities of public urban performance will make the city more efficient, resilient and adaptable to growth.
Letting these artifacts be and just live around them, it's not a preservation tactic like some might argue. It's an identity struggle, fear of accepting the known and having to move forward into the unknown. It's abandonment.
Maybe, it's our behavior that's utopic, or maybe I'm full of it but I'd like to mention something Rem Koolhaas has said (on preservation): "The result is a new form of historical amnesia, one that, perversely, only further alienates us from the past.” I agree.