According to New York Times Vlora is the 4th top place to visit this year.

That is fair but it’s not enough, not for us. We see a city willing to change, an emerging city that can yearn for a stable place under the international spotlight, a city to love, a city at the top. To get there we know that the city has to take a step further, a step that is more conceptual than physical: the courage to left old decorative approach to beautification (planting trees, shrubbery, and other greenery, adding decorative or historicstyle street lights and other lighting, and replacing broken pavement, often with stone or other natural materials) to dare more. Dare for a strategy, a vision for its future. We are confident that’s the way to go. An international competition with important jurors made of critics and theorists from the best architecture schools of Europe, young internationally renowned designers and local experts already testifies the desire ad ambitions for this intervention. We strongly believe that Vlora is getting an unprecedented chance to take a giant leap forward in quality with this competition to re-design its Waterfront: a wide range of problems and issues – faced with random solutions in the majority of cases – can be the opportunity to start a virtuous system and to foster local economy. STRATEGY VS ORNAMENT In the last few years, all over the world, has begun spreading the misconception that, regardless of conditions and environment, colossal masterpieces, somehow superimposed, prove themselves to be the key to raise the conditions of a territory or a city, of its economy and its inhabitants. It has been certainly true for the first one setting new rules in a old game. But the peddle of novelty does not last too long; indeed, urban development could be a powerful driving force able to boost economic growth as well as being the ticket granting access to the world-class circles of tourism, trade, culture. A clearly-planned, tidy, neat environment can be peculiar and attractive, and it’s an almost necessary condition nowadays, but a single, brandish work rarely is the right solution to face urban issues.

Nowadays, with the current crisis and opportunities, a strong approach to the issue is necessary, a strategy able to deal with the themes of present modernity, of 2014 and forthcoming years, certainly not a nostalgic glance to the postmodernist myths, but something able to induce growth of a city and its territory, yet grounded on strong, plausible basis. What we’re urging is the definition of a rule: a rule taking the form of Piers. That’s why Vlora needs NOT a beautification project. Vlora needs is a strategy!!!111!!! PIER VS COPACABANA Everybody knows the stunning design of Copacabana’s promenade by Burle Marx, a long continuous paving that fringes the beach while connecting in whole the waterfront of Rio de Janerio. Despite its indisputable aesthetic values, a linear system of this kind would be – in our opinion – a wrong take for Vlora. A project like this is highly risky: a project like Copocabana’s in no case will be fully working until its completion – and this could require several years to happen. Moreover, it must be considered that the possibilities of not completing the whole design are really high and this can be due to economic and political factors as well as obstacles rising during construction. But that’s not the point. Vlora waterfront has already huge quality potentials that needs to be unveiled. We need a strategy, a step by step intervention able to CONNECT the entire city, a project able to systematize the strengths and become its communication brand by fulfilling in a logical simple way the city’s main needs. Our proposal therefore consists of a network of punctual, discrete elements – the Piers – that act like the graduation of a ruler to subdivide and allocate autonomy to different segments of the Waterfront; the Piers condensers of programs and activities able to create the critical mass necessary to be sustainable; the Piers are flexible elements, easily replaceable over the years, that can be built either with public resources, by private investments or with private-public partnerships; they can be really simple structures or articulated and complex interventions.

Vlora Waterfront Competition

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Piers Masterplan
0 100 200 m

pier 01
N
scenic overlook

P

Wake up surrounded by the see and the city that reflects on the crystalline water. Enjoy your breakfast caressed by the sea breeze than rent a bike and go for a ride all along the waterfront. The first and the last piers are iconic building, with a clear shape and a clear identity. The scenic overlook is a square that starts the waterfront system with a public space right on the water and a strong clean building lifted right upon it. The lifted edge that define the space gathers and systematize the functional program (an ho(s)tel, a restaurant facing the sea and the small meeting center facing the city). On the lower level, right on the water, a covered public space with a bar/cafeteria and the bike rental activate the space and make it attractive all over the year.

pier 02
sport & bathing facility

P

The base piers are designed to enjoy free time in different ways, providing services to different clients and users and gathering them together according to their preferred way to enjoy their time, all over the year. Family relax or sport activity, silent sunbathing or sailing, the different piers are designed for specific use. The sport’s pier is made of ramps and stair that connect the parking spaces with the road, the beach and the water, creating a running loop and the perfect place to care about your body and health: diving boards and diving towers, but also spaces for running, playing or relaxing on the deck, sport fields, thermal baths that can be used 24/7. A mix of public and private activities able to sustain economically the activities.

Pier 03
family bathing facility

Enjoy a year of summer with the bathing facilities. The base piers cluster together all the services that can help you enjoy more and more the sea and the beach, from the beach office to the toilet, from a café to the deposit for the umbrellas and deck chairs, and more. These small volumes are tangled in a sequence of ribbons and stripes designed in section to connect the water and the changing sea-level with the road and the orography of the landscape, creating interesting spaces and different points of view, that can be used to enjoy the various views all over the year. Stairs and ramps connect the different levels allowing the continuity of the beach and road diving into the water to create sunbathing decks and micro landing places for small boats.

p04

pier 04
fun park & ferris wheel

P

Take a rectangular three-dimensionally articulated surface, a deck bridging from the sea to the main new parking facility, a bridge that connects the different fluxes of people moving from and to the beach at different levels. Carve out space for the fun-functions to create a programmaticly unstable and everchanging fun-park. The ferris wheel and the vertical elements interact with the chutes and the slides and the surface, creating a vertical layering of functions and activities. If I were Rem the Coney Island’s Leap Frog Railway would already be there. A pier that can work both as an attraction itself both as a support for local or national open air or temporary fairs, combining the position right at the edge of the city with the dedicated parking and other facilities.

p01

A

p02

reference: Georges Seurat, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, 1884–1886

p03
aerial view

p08 p03

p04

segment 04/05

segment 02/03

segment 01/02

panoramic view

segment 05/06

section AA - pier 01 scale 1:500

Vlora Waterfront Competition

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pier 05
sea-nema

P

The waterfront proposal defines a strategy: a discreet amount of punctual condensers (architectural interventions clustering enough programmatic functions to get to a critical mass) are able to activate ALL the coastal area all over the year. Within this framework most of the piers are then interchangeable between then and adaptable to be changed in time with the city development, the market conditions or the citizen desires and expectations. The sea-nema is one of these: still a bathing facility with all the services you may need to enjoy it, but it has a special feature: it can turn to an open air facility for venues (theatre, conferences, cinema, etc). The reference to other weel known projects is made to show the flexibility of the system, able to accommodate whatever ever-changing solution.

pier 07
urban bathing facility

P

Living in a city on the sea with a nice weather is bliss and this city can be really blessed. Just like the previous piers even pier number 7 is basically a bathing facility designed to accommodate all the services necessary to really enjoy the beaches of the surroundings (first of all connection with the city centre and the transport networks), but being the closest to the city centre it can be dedicated to a more urban use with some special features combining facilities for quick (lunch) or sunbathing breaks to parties, happenings, aperitifs and clubbing/night-life functions. The spaces are then designed to be used during the colder season for temporary exhibitions, venue and associative activities.

p08

pier 09
x-pool

Piers can change and pier number 9 can be certainly fulfil each and every ambition and need of the city. It can accommodate a public space, a meeting place, an artistic hot-spot or a more pragmatic function according to the idea of the city that the politic can foreseen for the city of tomorrow. It can even be a swimming pool inside the water for as long as it is needed (probably professional swimmers or swimming architects can enjoy it everyday) but the idea is that a cluster of function is needed in that place if we want the whole waterfront to really be attractive.

pier 06
transit station

P

One of the main features that the city needs to improve is the mobility management. The city suffers from the traffic and the lack of parking places. The waterfront competition is a chance to envision a draft proposal for it. Inter-modal hubs can combine different transportation means making the city more efficient, ecological and tourist friendly. The idea is to create, right next to the city centre a network of parking facilities where to leave the car while moving with other means of transportation, from the public transport (either bus or future trams/ferries/etc.) to individual mobility systems. Leaving more and more the cars OUT of the city and providing different and more sustainable solutions from transportation to create a people friendly city.

p07

pier 08
underwater museum

P

Culture and leisure can get the best of each other here. Imagine an unique occasion to explore the magnificent and astonishing nature of the coast and, while having fun, learn more diving into a museum, I mean, literally diving into it. The underwater museum is already there with the nature the fishes, the other animals and the geological formations of the coast-line but naturally it can be improved with contemporary art or temporary installations, creating an unique mix of art and nature. Snorkelling to see the artworks of nature of a famous artist, or simply swimming and sunbathing while drinking a cocktail in a special place. The underwater design is reflected on the water by an energetic landscape. The protected area is defined by circles of light buoys that exploit the energy of the tides to light up.

p09

pier 10
kursaal

P

Imagine a self sufficient island connected to the city: this is the Kursaal @ pier10. The island is a self-containing public space, a hub for social network, leisure, fun and more. It contains restoration facilities, cafès, discoteque and other spaces for leisure that can be used during the whole year, make people feeling like they’re outside, even when they are protected inside the building, despite climate conditions. The Kursaal is an island that carries out on the sea feelings as wind, waves, the infinite sky view, connecting visitors to nature and sealandscape. The island buildings are arranged in branches to reach different views and provide multiple experiences closely related to the sea and surrounding city.

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p06

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segment 05/06

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p10
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section BB - pier 08 scale 1:500

Vlora Waterfront Competition

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pier 11
sports cluster

P

Sport facilities are highly land consuming. The idea of moving them onto the sea could allow to reduce land use while defining a new attractive pole for both Vlora citizens and tourists. The development of the Sport cluster follows six steps: firstly, we analyze some statistics regarding sports popularity and selected the first four most popular ones, secondly we suppose that initially up to 100 people will use at the same time the facilities and define the amount of different fields, then dimensions of each module are set and a base rule is defined to rule their arrangement. The fifth step is the creation of a pattern. The last step of this process is the growth of the cluster, that will possibly expand according to future development of the area.

p13

pier 14
cultural centre

P

Beside having many leisure amenities, Vlora can’t help but have an appropriate cultural center. Although it could certainly be one of the last steps to complete the whole project [due to its high cost for the public body and the difficulties in finding cultural investors], a facility able to attract top quality tourism not only interested in seaside leisure activities, but looking for refined, cutting-edge events is the turning point for reaching to the international scene. At the same time it can certainly be a great upgrade for the city of Vlora and its residents. Therefore a solution based on a mixed-use program combining a theater, conference rooms, cinema facilities, a library, exhibition galleries, archives can be the cherry on the cake for the city ambitions.

p15

p11

pier 12
shopping mall

P

There is no second chance to get a great first impression. The port is the main entrance of the city for all those who are coming today and, most of all, for all the people the city wants to attract starting tomorrow. In order to reach for an international role, the project of piers 12 and 13 is the most relevant. The intervention has to be a landmark, defined by a recognizable form reaching the sea, expressing it’s role as a condenser for activities. The pier 12 accommodates a mixed-use program with a multiplex-cinema pole with a shopping mall and offices. It’s organized as a box in box system able to work with the inbetween articulated spaces in order to provide new covered public and semi-public spaces with vertical injections that creates exceptions and special spots.

pier 13
maritime station

P

Pier 13 is the principal transportation pole, supporting maritime lines, cruise travels, local ferry-boats transport and international connections connecting them with the local public transportation. The pier is organized as an airport station, organizing and controlling fluxes of people and providing them with spaces for shopping, restoration and relaxing areas. All in a see-through volume, that make people discover and appreciate Vlora’s beauty. It is designed to work as a hub for travellers but combined with an attractive pole, an intervention with a complex functional program that also includes congress halls and related facilities, little retail spaces, and inter-modal facilities, applying to the maritime station all the most recent facilitates of the contemporary airports.

pier 15
night-life facilities

P

Live the night! The Pier includes the main overnight leisure activities, including restaurants, pubs, discotheques and casinos that are organized in a see-through building to create visual relations between them. The pier is separated from the coast-line and the beaches but it also has open air spaces and facilities located on a wide terrace: the intervention is made of a cluster of boxes, composed in singular see-through volumes which include specific function, in order to guarantee the independence of each function while the space throughout invites to move around and jump from place to place. At the same time people can enjoy the panorama offered by Vlora’s coast and live the city from dusk till dawn.

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segment 13/14

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segment 12/13

C
segment 10/11 segment 11/12 segment 12/13

section CC - pier 11 scale 1:500

Vlora Waterfront Competition

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pier 16
yacht marina

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Nautical tourism is an increasingly popular way to combine love of sailing with holiday activities and also a very profitable industry. And the city of Vlora is a the perfect location for yacht tourism. The pier that closes the waterfront system is therefore a yachting marina: an intervention that opens to the water with a circular form that embraces the sea. The half moon marina is organized to combine user’s requests, as restoration spaces, a resort and leisure facilities, and the typical marina facilities like yacht maintenance, supply stations and any other service equipments. The pier is therefore developed on the sea with a docking platform for yachts with a reception and welcoming structure on the sea, while the club and resort grows inland connected with the transportation network.

Piers Masterplan
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p16

segment 15/16

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view from the sea

segment 15/16

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aerial view

segment 13/14

segment 14/15 view at night

section DD - pier 15 scale 1:500

Vlora Waterfront Competition

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Pier 02 -Construction detail
The forthcoming interventions are designed to offer richness to the coastline and to expand the city into the water: they’re considered autonomous urban spaces that skint the edge of the sea. Therefore we introduced elements as tectonics layers diving on the coastline that create a new topography: an undulating surface that can contain all the services and equipment for program activities and can become building, boardwalk, breakwater or urban pier.

Beach decks are linear elements that define the transition between the city and the sea, becoming promenade, meeting spaces, breakwaters, cycling paths and walking paths, docking points, beach showers and benches. They’re conceived as wooden structures seated on seabed or on the sandy bottom of beaches. The structure is composed by a foundation on piles sunk into the sea to stand the strong wave force, while the boardwalk is realized by steel beams mounted on the timber structure and supporting the wooden planked deck; all of joints are realized without using resins or ting materials. Using different height piles each deck the undulating system takes form, growing as a bench or a cover or a ramp or a furniture and navy support.

Construction materials

Functional program

Replaceable system

Plan Level + 3,50 m
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m

4.90 m

9.20 m

9.20 m 9.20 m 5.00 m

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4.90 m

4.90 m

5.00 m

Pier Perspective

Section
10.70 m 9.20 m

4.90 m

1.00 m 0.00 m

1.00 m

1.50 m 0.00 m 0.40 m

Plan Level + 0,00 m
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1.80 m 1.00 m 1.00 m 1.00 m 0.80 m 0.40 m 1.00 m

1.50 m

0.60 m

1.00 m

1.00 m

0.60 m

0.20 m

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Vlora Waterfront Competition

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