Awarded biennially, the European Prize for Urban Public Space distinguishes projects that create, revive, and improve public spaces across the continent. After evaluating 279 submissions for the 2018 competition, the jury ultimately gave first prize to the Renovation of Skanderbeg Square in Tirana, Albania by Brussels-based architecture practice 51N4E.
51N4E was commissioned to redesign the square after winning a 2008 competition. Working with Albanian artist Anri Sala, 51N4E reorganized the former communist space in “a simple yet radical way”, the practices describes on their site. Completed last year, the project includes new landscaping, fountains, and a multi-colored paving of stones sourced from different parts of the country. Its mosaic-like pattern breathes new life into the square, while offering “an intentional yet unassuming connection with Albania’s national identity”, the jury commented.
The jury also selected five special mentions.
Check out the winning project below.
Winner: Renovation of Skanderbeg Square in Tirana, Albania, 2017
Developer: Bashkia Tiranë, Government of Albania
Jury commentary: “Skanderbeg Square has a centrality in Tirana and the Albanese collective memory, as the main space of representation of the socialist dictatorship, and as the symbolic centre of the capital and the nation. The decision to leave the square empty and slope it gently towards a small elevation in the middle is part of a strategy to counter its previous symbolism. Water from small fountains trickles down the slopes, which are paved with stones from across the country. This offers an intentional yet unassuming connection with Albania’s national identity; otherwise the space is notably free of ideological imagery. The empty square is surrounded by a green perimeter which acts as a filter and absorbs a variety of social functions. The informality of the green zone spill over to the square and helps to strip it of the monumentality its size implies and gives it a casual atmosphere. This is one of a number of fine Albanian projects submitted for the Prize, showing that despite limited resources the country understands the importance of investing in public space.”
Poblenou “Superblock” in Barcelona, Spain, 2017
Author: Àrea d'Ecologia, Urbanisme i Mobilitat. Ajuntament de Barcelona
Developer: Ajuntament de Barcelona
Zollverein Park in Essen, Germany, 2018
Author: Planergruppe GmbH Oberhausen
Developer: Stiftung Zollverein
“PC Caritas” in Melle, Belgium, 2016
Author: architecten de vylder vinck taillieu, BAVO
Stage in Dnipro, Ukraine, 2017
Author: STAGE: СЦЕНА community
Developer: NGO Kultura Medialna and citizens of Dnipro
“Cuyperspassage” in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2016
Author: Benthem Crouwel Architects, Irma Boom Office
Developer: Gemeente Amsterdam, Dienst Infrastructuur Verkeer en Vervoer
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