Client: City of Berat
Status: Competition (2015)
Location: Berat, Albania
Climate: Humid subtropical, Temperate
Types: Bridge, Intervention, Landscape, Public space
At an age when we are aware that construction activities are one of the main causes for carbon emissions and energy consumption, it is important that our intervention in Berat Island is conscious about these issues. We have the opportunity to redefine the “traditional” Mediterranean models of developing Tourism which have destroyed their landscape from Spain to Greece just to mention two of them. We strongly believe a sensitive low-intervention high- impact strategy is what a city like Berat requires.
The proposal for the River Park identifies Berat’s two major assets – the park and the river as the new green and blue DNA stemming from their unique correlation and adjacency to the city centre.The principal challenge of the masterplan is to reinvent Berat’s orientation towards its river and to the Osumi Island through environmental and culture-led regeneration, establishing Osumi River as the center of community life and enterprise.We do not want to create “destination” program proposal but on the contrary, the riverfront should become a true riverside interface for the city of Berat.
It is not materialized through strong architectural interventions but to rather on a more fluid place-making driven intervention open to a multitude of functions. The functions in the riverfront should be rather related to side programs, such as retail, restaurants, meditation, small tourist infrastructure for tours and sports, an information or interpretation center. From this riverfront a natural circle emerges to integrate the Island into the city.
This primitive but powerful gesture will merge the nature and the urban..A circle in the landscape visible from Berat, its castle and the nearby hills. A circle that is not only a landmark that clearly defines Berat position along the length of the Osumi River, but also strengthens the relationship between the city, the river and the island.
The River Park and the loop creates a whole new series of pedestrian/bicycle circulations and open urban spaces, providing the city with the much needed infrastructure to hold a wide range of events such as: concerts, markets, festivals, art fairs and installations, outdoor cinema, street theatre… The ring could become a constantly changing cultural infrastructure for the city of Berat, a scenario of wills that will encourage the collective identity.
In order to emphasize this new relationship of the city with the river, we propose a traffic and road network redesign to define new foot and bicycle path networks.We will also rearrange the parking areas, bus stops and drop and go’s, to generate meeting places and lookout points around the River Park.
As our project rather than adding a new iconic building or flashy intervention, it aims to capture and re-frame the existing and emerging context of Berat. The latter, unlike the former, could be built quickly and at reasonable cost as many of the necessary elements for the River Park project are already in place, and others await only the community’s decision to pursue them so the active participation of the citizens will become a key issue in this fluid urbanism which will bring the nature back to Berat.