KKT Approves New Skyscraper in Central Tirana

As Exit already announced in August 2016, Prime Minister Edi Rama has decided to construct a new skyscraper behind the Tirana International Hotel.

Yesterday, the National Territorial Council (KKT), which is chaired by Prime Minister Rama, approved the construction of 111-meter tower in the center of Tirana.

According to documents secured by Gazeta Shqiptare, the application for the building permit was made by Alban Efthimi, the owner of architecture studio Atelier 4. Atelier 4 has been one the main collaborators of Rama since his time as mayor of Tirana. Atelier 4 was recently involved in the scandal surrounding the illegal Gjirokastra Bypass.

The tender documents claim that the building will be an extension of the Tirana International Hotel. Considering the enormous amount of empty hotel rooms in Tirana this justification appears to be rather incredible. The “extension” will be four times as large as the original building.

The parking garage underneath Skënderbeg Square, announced by Prime Minister Rama in August 2016 in violation of the original reconstruction plans for the square, and implemented without any official permit whatsoever, will be at the service of the new building.

The approved building will be constructed by Geci shpk, the same company that was responsible for the extension of the inner ring behind the Tirana International Hotel.

The French Plan

The "French Plan." The tower behind Tirana International Hotel is on the north-east corner of Skënderbeg Square.
The “French Plan.” The tower behind Tirana International Hotel is on the north-east corner of Skënderbeg Square, considerably smaller than in the approved plan.

Even though a recent masterplan for Tirana was drafted by Stefano Boeri, the tower approved by the KKT is not part of it. In fact, the tower was originally part of the previous masterplan for Tirana, drafted by the French Architecture Studio in 2003.

This masterplan, known as the “French plan,” included the construction of 10 skyscrapers placed on both sides of Skënderbeg Square. 51N4E’s TID Tower (the Plaza Hotel), and Marco Casamonti’s 4EverGreen Tower (now bankrupt) are the remainders of this former project of Rama – so far.

Ever since Rama came to power in 2013, he has endeavored to implement the skyscrapers of the French Plan, even though the Tirana Masterplan 2030 only envisions densification in so-called “transformation zones.”

Nevertheless, the basically absolute power that Rama wields over urban planning in the country has driven him to build in areas formerly considered off-limits: the park around the artificial lake, but also the Narta and Karavasta lagoons, which are protected nature reserves. Last year, Rama destroyed the Qemal Stafa stadium, a protected cultural monument, to build a new stadium and skyscraper, again designed by convicted criminal and architect Marco Casamonti.

The construction of this useless skyscraper is yet another sign of the clientelist tendencies of the prime minister, who is destroying what is left of historical Tirana with quick pace. Like all his other prestige projects, they are solely the product of the interests of his clients and his own misguided “artistic” fantasies.