New culture of territorial development

Speech of Prime Minister Edi Rama at the opening of “Atelier Albania”:

Today we crown an intensive effort initiated in August at an international conference with economists and urban planners invited by us because we are convinced that urban planning is a very important issue for our country which cannot be considered separately from economic development issue.

Since holding of that conference we have rapidly advanced also thanks to the precious help of Dutch Government and Ambassador in person, who in the best tradition of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands has expressed his readiness from the very beginning to offer necessary support for this atelier to be born as a point of contact. A meeting point for many actors on issues that are interconnected at the exact point where I started this discussion – combination of development plans with nature and challenges of the development not in the abstract point of view, but in concrete terms. Not only an urban development, but also economic and social development.  This meeting point, thanks to this fundamental support – financial or high quality human resources support by Dutch Government – enables us to create a space where challenges of development could be addressed in a new way and where we could adopt a new approach to cope with these challenges.

We have had all the necessary time at disposal for 20 and something years to see that from one side our country’s planning strength is very weak and on the other side our planning has never been in compliance with what we have realized in all aspects – in infrastructure, public or public developments of the territory.

On the other side, we had all the necessary time to learn from the past and outline some simple conclusions.

The first and simplest conclusion is that we need to move ahead with determination and clear vision on two parallel rails.

We must on one side plan and on the other side realize.

Not plan and then realize, but we should plan and realize in parallel.

In this respect, this planning must be in line with our ambitions, needs and real opportunities, different from so far planning, I mean territorial planning, which has been developed as an exercise in a closed space without taking into consideration problematic and challenges of the territory and turn territory into the basis of planning, where actors of this field could be part of the planning process.  In order to turn our planning into a real instrument for realization of what actors on the ground could realize and not let it be something that at the end of the day has nothing to do what has been realized.

On the other side, the Atelier is of great importance because it offers opportunities to all young actors in this field – new planners, new architects, i.e. all human resources of the country to develop themselves by becoming part of this process. Therefore, it has been created as a borderless space.  It is not a new office or new piece similar to others and added to others. It is not a new bureaucratic instrument, but it is really a meeting point, a crossroad that connects the roads of all interested parts in a process where we have taken on a huge challenge  – challenge of urban, economic and social integrated development.

To be more concrete without taking more of your time, tomorrow, we have the first important experience of an international race for an extremely delicate part of an extraordinary strategic importance for the territory regarding integrated urban, economic and social development of the country – the construction of Vlora seaside promenade. It is an open process attended by many foreign and local studios and based on what I have read in the preliminary report of first stage of the race – which is completed now – it would be an impressive competition regarding quality of proposals and novelties that will be introduced.  But, on the other side it is a process where “Atelier Albania” will have an important role to turn at the end of the day into reality the idea and winning plan in Vlora city reality with the technical and financial  instruments at our disposal, which are not unlimited instruments.   This is not easy, but on the other side, it is our challenge to realize a project of highest European standards regarding urban planning approach and new quality introduced in the environment and serve as a model for other public or private developments with the limited technical instruments and materials at our disposal.

We are all aware of the huge expenses made so far in infrastructure, compared to the Albania’s reach. We are all aware of how small or minuscule our infrastructure works look like regarding design, implementation and view compared to standards of Europe where we want to be integrated. It is so simple and easy to see the difference while walking on a European road and an Albanian one.

Therefore, first of all, this is an issue of conception and approach and then design and realization.  In this aspect, “Atelier Albania” will again have a very important role in introduction of this self-consciousness in the process and in doing the utmost for getting together in important projects all the actors – Government,  local power, other authorities related to certain sectors of territorial development – in function of tourist infrastructure, water or wastes infrastructure and so on.

To this effect, I believe that with the opening of the doors of this space today we place a sustainable foundation stone in a process that would absolutely provide us with examples of  transformations not only where these transformations will take place, but also to later on create that necessary chain effect coming from a cultural change of the building of an entire process of intervention on territory, because at first we must understand that all this aims at the realization of a cultural change and establishment of a new culture of our behaviour in relation to development and territory used for development.

It is not a never-ending asset that can be continuously misused, but it consists of a limited asset that could help us develop other assets, if we know how to make use of these limited assets through a new way and new instruments.  Always bearing in mind that at the same time there exists also the way of consolidation of our human resources, our human capital, i.e. architects, planners and all other professionals of this field, who need to be offered the chance to participate in this process when graduating or returning in Albania after attending university studies abroad.  In the mean time, it is necessary for them to be guided by the right examples and “Atelier Albania” itself is the right example that could offer the opportunity to find out in our path towards integrated development of Albania the right examples to turn once and forever the page to this mess and schizophrenia of the comparison between what we design on paper and what we see at the end of the day in the reality of the idea that on paper is something completely different from what has been realized.

Thank you!

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Prime Minister Edi Rama was invited today to share the Government’s vision for a sustainable and integrated urban development at the meeting of launch of “Atelier Albania”, an office that will operate within the National Territorial Planning Agency. In his speech, the Prime Minister stressed that sustainable urban development requires a new approach and culture in the stance toward territory.  The Prime Minister expressed the conviction that “Atelier Albania” will play an important role in this process of transformation.

“Atelier Albania” mission is to make evident innovatory ideas that stimulate qualitative projects and to serve as communication bridges with local and foreign experts.