The abandoned industrial legacy of Fier, Albania – Part 3 – Waiting for adaptive reuse…

posted in: Balkans | 0

In the previous parts we did some urban exploration in Fier’s inactive thermal power plant and in the former fertilizer factory with its monumental concrete elements.

Exploring these sites reveal a unique industrial architectural legacy. In this 1981 article from “Albania Today” you can get some idea about the importance of industry during Albania’s communist era.

When communism collapsed, Albanias rushed to demolish everything related to the tough communist regime.

Today, these concrete structures serve as monuments to a period that many Albanians wish to forget. Some Albanians do speak about the advantages of that period – everybody had work, living and security.

Reuse, Repurpose ?!

In any case, these structures can be used in two, maybe contradicting ways – preserved as they are to remind us of these other days, or reused with an added value to serve as something new, symbolizing a triumph on communist era.

For the people of Albania, the second option can serve as a catharsis while bringing a world class attraction to the country, an important asset considering tourism as a major potential for economic growth in developing Albania.

Just to play with the idea, take a look at the new Berat university campus.

This neoclassic -“Capitol like” – building is strange to its environment – the magnificent Balkan architecture as well as the modern concrete buildings.

Here’s an inside view of the dome of the newly built monumental campus

And here’s an industrial dome structure located in an interesting built environment

Can we achieve a similar dome effect reusing the old industrial dome…?


Now let’s take a look at Fier new university building advertisement:

And a video describing the university

Again, a neoclassic structure trying to give something new to the Albanian built environment.
Well, the factory can be used as an extension to the university, another academic campus, a campus for other industries, extreme park…
There is an abundance of successful case studies of industrial structures reuse / repurposing.  Here are a few:

Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex

Emscher Park

London’s Battersea Power Station To Get Major Eco-Renovation

London’s Tate Modern


Playing with structures

As a first step towards understanding the site in Fier and its reuse potential, here’s an analysis of the remaining concrete structures on site.
Following is a simplified representation of Fier’s industrial structures –
let’s call them the elements:

from left to right: The Diagonal, The Tower, The Dome, The Grid, The Hyperboloid, The Chimney, The Assisted Tower, The Warehouse

and here’s a graphic collage

Let’s build something from these elements

From the top they create an interesting composition

By understanding the various elements and their spatial relationships on site, we can start building a new meaning to the site.

A program can evolve from such an analysis or be brought “from the outside” and adopted to the site…

I hope the above can serve as an inspiration for investors, architects, planners and Albanians that now return home from other countries, trying to give new life and fresh meaning to Albania.

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