From: Alice Taylor
Rrogozhine Cultural Centre to be Rehabilitated by Swiss and Austrian Organisations

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Austrian Development Agency will fund the repair and reconstruction of the Rrogozhine Cultural Centre.

Following an Exit investigation where it was found the building was earmarked for demolition, the plan to do so was withdrawn. Now, it will benefit from full rehabilitation in. order to preserve local cultural characteristics and to create a public community space in the town.

The centre was constructed in the 1970s in the Socialist Realism style and was considered state-of-the-art architecture at the time.  Laim Halili, one of those involved in overseeing its construction said it was built to the highest standards and designed to withstand the test of time.

In recent years, it had been left to decay but was still being used by schools and the Municipality. Exit also revealed that it was used for a Socialist Party meeting, even after it had been declared unsafe and ready to be demolished.

Following the November 26 earthquake, it was inspected by the Construction Institute and deemed unsafe. The section related to findings of the report was less than half a page and it was apparent that no forensic examinations had been carried out.

Exit also revealed that the engineers who signed off the report were the same that are now facing a lawsuit in SPAK for signing off on the report regarding the National Theatre in Tirana. It’s alleged they filed the report without visiting the site or gathering any real findings.

An independent engineer confirmed to Exit that most of the damage was cosmetic. He questioned the need to demolish it and disputed the findings of the report.

Members of the local community were outraged as there were still around 150 local families homeless or living in dangerous properties following the earthquake. They felt that the several million required to demolish the building and rebuild it would be better spent elsewhere.

The Municipality, headed by Minister of Reconstruction Arben Ahemtaj after the Mayor died of a heart attack earlier this year, withdrew the plan.

The new project will preserve the building and ensure it remains a focal point for the people of Rrogozhine.

“The specific objective of raising social standards by providing direct support will be achieved through architectural interventions in interior and appropriate and comprehensive and targeted equipment, and most importantly through the program that includes non-formal education activities for marginalized communities and youth, craft and artistic support through CSOs as well as new spaces for pensioners and all citizens.”