Vlora Waterfront

Atelier Albania, invited by the Ministry of Urban Development and Tourism and the City of Vlora, is launching an international one-stage urban design competition, to design the Waterfront Promenade in Vlora, Albania. The Waterfront Promenade is envisioned as a vibrant pedestrian zone and a major recreational area facing some of the new inhabited parts of the city, but in itself represents the oldest touristic attraction of the city.

Through this open call, Atelier Albania, is aiming to reach out architects, landscape architects, urban planners and designers, students and artists. This professional capacity will generate visionary and original concepts for the Vlora Waterfront Promenade, jump-starting a process that aspires the transformation of an entire waterfront pedestrian experience.

Through this urban design, ideas and intervention competition, Atelier Albania is hoping to establish a model of design and intervention that can be applied contextually, developing at a further stage to other urban sites along the Albanian coast, assuring a frame for a spatially rich and varied scheme that will enhance the Ionian and Adriatic waterfront conditions, recognising its total spatial context.

Vlora Waterfront

Vlora Waterfront

A well-integrated mosaic of a new landscape, additional outdoor lightweight structures, artistic oeuvres and lighting will support the ideas of this prominent waterfront promenade to achieve its touristic potential, as a vital and stimulating outdoor location, turning it into a favourite refuge for residents of all ages and a destination for tourists and visitors from all over the world.

Design Opportunities

The Waterfront Promenade is composed of two segments. The port is the hinge that connects or stands in-between them. These two segments are facing two totally different urban conditions. Therefore, they have very different identity and should be approached in a different way. They can respectively be named as the West Segment (Old Beach Area, west of port, reaching ‘Soda Woods’) and South Segment (New Beach Promenade, south of port, reaching the Tunnel).

The South Segment is a narrow one but very well defined, and it stands in-between an existing road and the sea. This road connects the city to the touristic Ionian region, and it holds actually the status of a national connector, as it is the only existing road. There are plans for national by-pass that will avoid traffic in this segment, but also plans for an alternative municipal street that will make possible a traffic-free area in the South Segment. Till then, traffic will have to flow parallel/along the Promenade.

The South Segment not under very fine urban conditions, even though it already has some sub-segments that offer different programs that are mostly used especially during the long Ionian summer. This segment has gained some extra space lately due to the fact that certain buildings are cleared out, giving back the public space to the city.Therefore, the whole set of sub-segments need to be integrated, harmonized and upgraded in terms of urban furnishing elements and existing underground infrastructure network. This will make a beautification process and most probably will constitute the short term intervention.

Within this perspective the competitors are asked to analyse and propose sectors within the South Segment that might be part of a first and immediate implementation set of projects, aiming at having a touristic impact by summer 2014.

While, on the other hand the West Segment is wider and sandy, facing traditionally touristic structures as well as lately erected high-rise residential structures. This newly built structures have not a designed urban border or an urban element as a mediator. The city road network reaches the West Segment from behind the building stock. This fact gives a pedestrian feature to the West Segment. The intervention in this segment will be to introduce the promenade and to define the urban border that will connect the sandy/ beach area to the urbanized area. The underground infrastructure network of this segment has to be introduced and integrated with the rest of the system. This will constitute the long term intervention.

Here as well, within the West Segment band, the competitors are asked to analyse and propose sectors that might be part of a first and immediate implementation set of projects, aiming at having a touristic impact by summer 2014.

Atelier Albania Methodology

Vlora is one of the most beautiful coastal urban sites in the Albanian coast. It attracts quite a large number of tourists every season but also during the entire year, especially during weekends. These are facts that make Vlora receive a lot of public attention. Therefore the design of the Waterfront promenade should be a product of not a single designer or a single studio. It should be a product of a collective public opinion through an instrument that ensures the expression of interest of many designers, finalized by an open and transparent selection of the wide public facilitated by the local and international expertise.

An international, open, one stage, [partly] anonymous urban design competition would be the right instrument to guarantee the aimed product. The call for participation will be open to all national and international designers, but also to team of about to graduate students of architecture, urban design or landscape design programs. There will be awarded two winning prizes, one for the best design and the other for the best local team/designer. The winner that will be contracted to execute the design will be a team composed of those two winners, the best design winning team and the best local team/designer. The final product will be negotiated between them and the promoter (implementing unit/ Atelier Albania). The city of Vlora, as the beneficiary, will be active and part of the process throughout its duration.

Expected outcomes

High quality design: The deliverables of the Competition will be handed over in a short period of time but the results are expected to be of high quality.

Building of local capacities: Atelier Albania aims at teaming up one international and one local designer or design team for the implementation of the first design phase and the detailing of the second design phase. It is strongly believed that working closely with international experts will have an influence in building design capacities of local designers. While on the other hand, this close collaboration will guarantee that international experts will build deep local knowledge and will have a continuous presence on site.

Ease of detailed design process and implementation: teaming up of the international and local designers will guarantee a direct connection with the site throughout the design and implementation period, as well as easiness of conduct towards real-time problem-solving approach.

End Product

The design proposals will be focused on two different products, one aiming the short term intervention and the other aiming a long term vision (detailed above also in terms of localization).

The short term aimed design proposal, corresponding to each competitor’s customized selection of parts within the West and South Segment, is about to be implemented immediately, following the guidelines given by the competition design, in order to have the flagship project of the Vlora coast visible and ready to be appreciated by the visitors of the coming touristic season of ‘Summer 2014’.

While the long term vision, corresponding to rest of the parts within the West and South Segment, will be detailed following the competition process, by the teamed-up winners (local and international winners) and will be implemented on a second and maybe third phase of intervention in order to have the Vlora Waterfront Promenade completed expectedly the very next touristic season of ‘Summer 2015’.

More info at: http://www.vlorawaterfront.al/