"The urban fabric of Tirana has been shaped by a continuous process of tabula rasa, continuing even more intensively today, through the devaluation of the past to replace it with ‘the new’, ostensibly representing ‘the contemporary’. This has led to a specific group of architectural works, which are the main surviving representatives of the ‘organic’ development of Tirana’s architecture, being stuck in a transitional limbo as well as being perceived as ‘undesired buildings'. This state of affairs is a result of the lack of various forms of architectural preservation, despite the rich historical, cultural and architectural values of the buildings in question.
Being particularly vulnerable and endangered, the way found to protect these buildings in a situation where the institutional will to do so seems to be absent, was by re-bringing them and the values they represent to the community's attention, re-activating the community’s collective memory about them and consequently about the city, re-appropriating the city through their re-valorization. The tool used is an interactive, digital documentation platform https://preservingtirana.city/, where the entire database was created as a combination of theoretical research with ethnographic community interviews, fieldwork mapping and photographing. It represents a collaborative website and at the same time a public archiving platform, through the use of open knowledge, open source platforms, and open creative licenses for its content. Since these buildings are common assets for the city, acquiring knowledge about them and enriching this database comes as a common right and responsibility for all its citizens. Therefore this process of archiving the 'stratification of history in space' in Tirana is conceived as a continuous process in time, participatory and sustainable.
This is the platform where all these important buildings are being documented to somehow create and preserve this architectural memory of Tirana: https://preservingtirana.city/
These are the photos we've taken so far which are also a very important contribution we've made to the open platform Wikimedia commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:The_Albanian_House
(all in specific categories)
The project is ongoing and we have presented it on different conferences and events like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYu3igIHYOA. Also it got chosen as the winning project for Smart Cities and urban development, in World Summit Award representing Albania.
Also, it is thought to work as a pilot project that can be implemented for other cities of the region also, having the same problem."