Albania’s controversial Tirana Pyramid—a former monument to the country’s communist leader—will finally be repurposed after years of decay. MVRDV has officially unveiled designs to transform the pyramidal structure into a large green technology education center. The pyramid will be opened up to the surroundings and filled with natural light and greenery, ultimately making the interior more welcoming to the public.
Set in the center of the city, the Tirana Pyramid originally served as a museum honoring the legacy of Enver Hoxha, the long-time leader of communist Albania. Following the collapse of Communism in 1991, the concrete communist monument was repurposed for a variety of uses, from a nightclub to a NATO base, during the Kosovo War. In recent years, developers have called for the Tirana Pyramid’s demolition, which stirred controversy among its architects and the greater populace, many of whom had developed an attachment to the monument despite its increasingly decrepit and vandalized appearance.
Rather than demolish the unique structure, MVRDV aims to preserve the silhouette while making the 127,000-square-foot building more accessible. “Though in the past, there were plans to transform this monumental building into a national theatre, this never materialised which left this fantastic building in ruin for more than a decade,” says Winy Maas, co-founder of MVRDV. “It is a symbol for many Albanians. For the older generation, it is a memory to the cultural events during communist times, for the recent generation it became the place to celebrate the new era. We will open it up to its surroundings as a structure in the park, that can be populated by people, trees, and containers for co-working. We will make the beams accessible and safe so that we can all climb to the top and celebrate the structure, with views of the city of Tirana. We create an inhabited monument.”
In addition to natural light, the architects will introduce greenery to the building atrium. The team will also make the facade roof—a popular hangout spot for young people—officially available to all visitors, populating it with pavilions and other pop-up structures conducive to temporary events and sightseeing. The project is slated for completion in 2019.
Renderings by MVRDV, Exterior image by Gent Onuzi and Wikimedia