This month, on 11th February 2020, Tirana celebrated the 100th anniversary of its independence. On 11th February 1920 Tirana became the Capital of Albania by a decision of the Congress of Lushnja, but received its final status as the capital on January 31, 1925. While Tirana has a modest history compared to many other European metropolises, it deserves special attention not simply because it is the capital of Albania, but because the city has a unique model of urban development compared to the rest of Europe.
Throwback – Tirana 100 years
Urban-architectural development of Tirana
Evidence suggests that between the 17th and 19th centuries there was a continuous expansion of the city, progressed forward through economic development and trade. The craftsmen of the city expanded their reaches through the construction of a bazaar along with other religious and social constructions. The urban construction of Tirana was primarily made possible through increasing socioeconomic development and thus, trade centers and residential areas were the two primary forms of construction built during this time.
Stepping away from urban life, the history of Tirana’s households began with the construction of single room buildings marked by a single fireplace placed in the middle. In some cases, porches would be constructed on top, effectively making the building into two floors. The 300 year old villa of Sali Shijaku is a prime example of this form of architecture. With continued economic growth, the households of Tirana began to change in the 19th century as architecture and decoration became important values of Albanian culture. In the historic areas of Tirana, villas with more modern architecture would’ve been built in amongst the traditional residences that were constructed by distinguished masters in earlier centuries.
In 1923, Austrian architects and engineers developed the First Regulatory Plan of the City and despite its significant lack of feasibility, the plan led to the opening and expanding of the city’s first main roads and streets. Under President Ahmet Zogu, a second regulatory plan of Tirana was developed in 1924 this time with an Italian architect by the name of Armando Brasini. Brasini is responsible for creating what is known as New Tirana in particular, which includes Skanderbeg Square and its accompanying boulevard, both of which continue to act as the center of the city.
Later on, another Italian architect by the name of Florestano di Fausto oversaw the construction of the Ministries center, which was relatively small and oriented north-south until another architect, Gerardo Bosio, later oriented the buildings to face east-west. This latter period of development would be marked by the first use of European legislation on urban planning, wherein the same regulations used in Italy for expropriations, building permits, etc. would now be enforced in Tirana.
Soviet influence over architecture in Tirana was marked by the 1957 Urban Plan which oversaw the construction of new industrial enterprises that incorporated distinctive Soviet style of architecture. The Kombinat Stalin Textiles Factory in the southwest part of the city is a prime example of these post-war building projects. This period continued to influence the city even after its end as evidenced by the 1990 urban plan which restructured the road network until 2000. The future of Tirana’s urban development is laid out by the New Urban Plan 2030. The work of Italian architect Stefano Boeri, the TR2030 plan connects culture, society, and geopolitics to ensure Tirana’s future as an environmentally sustainable city.
Tirana 100 years Architecture Timeline, 1920 – 2020
- 1925s – Plaza with the Ministries buildings
- 1930 – Dëshmorët e Kombit Boulevard
- 1930 – Hotel Dajti
- 1936 – Bank of Albania
- 1938 – Radio Tirana
- 1941 – The Prime Minister’s Office building
- 1945 – State Professional Theatre
- 1948 – National Archaeological Museum
- 1950 – Rinia Park
- 1951 – Polytechnic University of Tirana (UPT)
- 1954 – Gallery of Figurative Art
- 1960 – Great Park
- 1963 – Palace of Culture of Tirana
- 1966 – High Institute of Arts
- 1968 – Skanderbeg Monument in Skanderbeg Square
- 1971 – University’s Botanical Gardens of Tirana
- 1979 – Tirana International Hotel
- 1981 – National Historical Museum
- 1986 – Palace of Congresses
- 1988 – International Center of Culture – Pyramid of Tirana
- 2001 – St Paul’s Cathedral
- 2012 – Resurrection Cathedral
- 2012 – TID Tower
- 2019 – Air Albania Stadium